Monday, January 07, 2008

Fair enough

I'm finally starting my script for Shaun The Sheep. This stage will only be about three or four pages long - there's no dialogue, so it's really just description at this stage. Later this month I'll be attending a Writer's Day at Aardman, where all the scripts will be looked at together, and writers and producers will work together to flesh out the stories with background jokes, storyboard some of the sequences and so on. In the meantime, I need to look over Aardman's notes on the one-page outline I sent them before Christmas.

Favourite note so far:

"There are practical problems in re-dressing various members of the flock as Ninjas."


UPDATE:

Oli asks:

Sight gags in scripts have always intrigued me; the appeal in practice is that they're blink and you'll miss 'em, but surely they must require a lot of description in script, which blunts the comedy for the reader... how do you make sight gags funny in a script?

Good question. I try to write them as simply as possible, leaving the joke to the reader. After all, if someone's reading a script (rather than seeing the final product) they're already visualising the action in their head. You certainly don't want to over-explain it.

From the 'Rejected Sketches' file, here's a thematically-appropriate example. It doesn't really matter if the viewer doesn't see the stuff on the flipchart at the end, but a bonus if they can:

NINJAS

INT. BOARDROOM – DAY

Various smartly-suited people sitting round a table. MAN 1 is standing before a flip chart, pointing at a rather dull looking map with a few red pins.

MAN 1
…looking to get these shops to ISO 9000 standard by next month. So you can see why we’re looking for real ‘out of the box’ thinking on this one. We’re open to any-

One of the seated Men raises his hand.

MAN 2
Ninjas.

MAN 1
Hmm?

MAN 2
Ninjas can do it. Ninjas can do anything.

The other seated business people murmur and nod amongst themselves.

WOMAN
Especially if they have katanas.

WOMAN 2
Is that a kind of horse?

WOMAN
No, it’s a sword. They fold the steel hundreds of times in the forging process, rendering the blade almost unbreakable.

MAN 2
Well that sounds good to me. All in favour of-

MAN 3
Actually, I know you’ll shoot me down on this one, but I think pirates-

They all moan – clearly this isn’t the first time MAN 3 has mentioned pirates.


MAN 3
No, hear me out – if you look at the map, you’ll see a number of waterfront properties in the southern region…

They all look at the map, and start muttering amongst themselves – clearly the idea has some merit.

MAN 1 stares at them all, then at the map, then back at them again. Finally:

MAN 1
So you’re thinking a mixed portfolio? Pirates and ninjas?

WOMAN 2
(concerned) Mmm, what if they fight?

MAN 2
(excited) Ooh, who’d win?

MAN 1
Ah, now actually, we have some studies on that…

He turns over the flipchart. On the next page are two stickmen drawings, labelled ‘ninja’ and ‘pirate’ respectively. A piechart is beneath them, with various arrows coming off it, linked to boxes labelled with things like ‘cutlass vs katana’, ‘pirates versus ninjas (ninjae?)’ and ‘The Blowdart: an appraisal’.

They all applaud respectfully.

MAN 3
(to self) I like meetings.




11 comments:

cello said...

I think that will be less problematic than re-dressing lots of Ninjas as sheep.

Oli said...

Sight gags in scripts have always intrigued me; the appeal in practice is that they're blink and you'll miss 'em, but surely they must require a lot of description in script, which blunts the comedy for the reader.

Hmmm... is this a question or a ramble?

Okay... how do you make sight gags funny in a script? There we go.

Jayne said...

Tut. No vision these Aardman people...

Imo said...

Surely they can make ninja masks from spare black plastic left over from wrapping up the hay, what's the problem!

Oli said...

Lovely, thanks.

Also, do I detect a little D&D reference in the whole Pirates vs Ninjas thing?

james henry said...

Hmm, not directly, although I try and put a bit of D&D in everything I write, even if just to make script editors earn their fees by taking them all out again.

Boz said...

This post has brightened up my Monday afternoon A TREAT.

And 'redressing members of the flock as ninjas'... is this a religious thing...? No, sheep. Just sheep. Focus on the sheep, Boz.

llewtrah said...

How about sheep disguiesed as ninjas disguised as sheep?

Jannah said...

I love Shaun. The Sheep. He's super cool.

He should wear a red color Ninja suit while the rest of the flock All Blacks.

Good luck with the scriptwriting. Pretty please post the episode on youtube once it's released :)

Gram Caxton said...

I thought that the Ninja's vs Pirates sketch was pretty good. It reminded me of Big Train. I don't think the ending was very strong though. I don't think it should go into the 'rejected sketches' file though.

worm said...

I like your sketch! and as gram caxton said - very "big train"

and as for the sheep - one word - Lamburai