Doing Lines

Snot-nosed little pipsqueak mode activated

I think that by the time we actually manage a final cut of The Oatmeal Man it will be about two sisters coming to terms with the death of their mother as they struggle to change a flat tire in the middle of the desert. We watched the latest “Titillation Edition” cut two weeks ago, and while our test viewer response was mostly positive (in other words, the stuffed animals we set in front of the TV didn’t catch fire), Sean decided that we need to film another handful of small scenes to support the new subplot.

(Yeah, you heard me. I just used the word “subplot” in reference to a movie called The Oatmeal Man.)

Last week, I wrote the girls some lines involving a strip club and a hotel room. If all goes well, the emphasis on bras and underwear will make a smooth transition from page to screen. Sal doesn’t know it yet, but he’ll be serving as butt double for any ladies shy about showing off their derrieres. It’ll be fun. Sean told me he wanted dialog that gives the girls personality—enough so that if and when they face danger, you’ll care enough about them to, um, care. But nothing overkill, nothing of Kevin Smith caliber. (It should be noted here that I love Kevin Smith. To an extent that goes beyond orthodoxy—wait, what?)

Speaking of dialog, here’s a little story about Eddie and his epic lines. Back in the pre-production days, when I was writing his character, I had this antsy, thinks-faster-than-he-speaks kind of guy in mind. Someone who could spit out his words in rapid succession. So, I gave Eddie longer lines, thinking that since the actor who played him would be talking much faster than normal, it would even out. I even made a note regarding this in Eddie’s first scene.

What ended up happening, though: that particular scene was removed from the script. Later, when John Karyus (who’s fabulous as Eddie, just so you know) got the part, there was little (if any) indication that his character was supposed to talk a certain way—and his approach was to do the complete opposite of what I had in mind. That is, his version of the Eddie character speaks slowly, whimsically. Lots of lines + slow delivery = writer and director scratching their heads until director punches writer in the mouth for fucking the dialogue up. With a little creative editing, though, Eddie’s lines have been tamed, and the result is creepily quirky. Pure Karyus, guaranteed.

The lesson here: Never delete a scene before reallocating any relevant bits of information contained therein. That’s writer speak for, “Check your shit.”