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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Time Travelin' Script Reviews #2 - Office Zombie

Ahh...Office Zombie. Probably the best received of my recurring characters (yeah, I’ve got a couple, though I did always try to make each short stand alone), and certainly one of the most enjoyable to write.

(As an aside, I do find it difficult to take myself seriously doing this, when I’m essentially doing some kind of retrospective on something that never even had a second draft, let alone got made, and only a handful of people saw. Still, it’s a good exercise. Must think of it that way.)

Anyway, script at the link, rambling after the break:

Office Zombie - 1st Draft

The idea came from discussions with various people, though I believe it was Jeff Wheeler who threw out the original germ of the idea. So this skit came of that, then it kind of took on a life of its own, and I’ve still got one half-finished script for the Office Zombie Christmas Special lying about.

In terms of timing on this, it was certainly one of the first things I did after finishing the Jesus script, though I can’t remember for the life of me whether it was this or the Boxer script that was next. In the end I figured it was probably this, simply because I didn’t do a title page, something that every script after this has (I think the Jesus one was added after). In any event, it was certainly early 2002. Not too important, I guess, but I’ll do the Boxer next week, before what will probably be a string of several Office Zombie stories (I was on a roll). Anyway, it’s a quickie this week, so let’s get it done!

Page One: “in his late 20’s and rather slick. An up-and-comer.”

I have such a stereotypical idea of office guys, probably due to never having actually worked in and office. Office guys in most of my scripts tend to be slick, stylish, driven, sleazy assholes. Not true, of course. Is it? Actually, I think it comes from being a child of the 80’s, when businessmen were all self-proclaimed masters of the universe and all of that. Now they just seem to be stressed out twenty-somethings who desperately live for the weekend, ducking and diving their way through petty office politics. Wait...still not a particularly positive view, is it?

Page One: “He...ahh...he smells rather bad, sir.”

This thing of people stumbling over what they’re saying is a common feature in my scripts, and not one I think necessarily works in practice. When I’m writing it helps to make the dialogue feel more naturalistic, but looking back I think it just acts as a superficial means of creating natural speech, and to be honest that kind of naturalism in film should come from an actor, not a script. Or at least that’s how I feel now. But then I often fall into that kind of direction trap in my scripts, probably because I was fully intending to be a director at the time and, after all, production-ready these ain’t.

Page One: “Well...there’s the whole thing of personal grooming too, sir.”

Speaking of dialogue, a lot of what’s here just feels a little clunky. When I’m writing, I do speak through lines in a put-on voice for that character, but never particularly loudly, and I think the effect of muttering a line under your breath doesn’t quite give an accurate representation of how a line really sounds.

Page Two: “Well, I can only hear one person moaning here Jones.”

I really like this line. It’s always so gratifying to read back through old things and find stuff that still works for you, and this is one of them.

Page Two: “Davis...ate him sir.”

Whereas, upon reflection, the punchline here is pretty weak. Almost redundant, undercut by the previous suggestion by Jones that Davis is a zombie. It’s not a surprise that he ate someone, he is a zombie, after all.

Page Three: “THEME SONG”

The theme song, a recurring thing throughout the OZ scripts, is one of the things I enjoyed the most when doing them, but is also what probably works the least in practical terms. The idea was to juxtapose this light, breezy tune – kind of an Andrews Sisters ditty – with this horrible creature. That was important, too. I actually wanted Davis to be a bit scary, or at least a little gross. For the most part this worked throughout the scripts. I think. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. I can think of one really notable exception, actually, but ideally Davis should have always brought some horror to proceedings.

And that’s that! I think this is actually about the shortest script I did, apart from perhaps “Redundant Zombie” - the final OZ story which I never really properly formatted and don’t remember if I ever emailed it out to people. Well, we’ll get to it in these posts, I think.



  1. Office Zombie Christmas Special!

  2. Love them all...and I still have them all in the Andrew scripts folder ;)

  3. I remember a Mr. Duncan Jones felt that the whole zombie thing was a bit passe. What the f*** does he know anyway?

  4. Love the office zombie. If only I had got off my ass, I would have loved to make that.