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Monday, June 28, 2010

Time Travellin' Script Reviews #3 - The Boxer

Looking back, this Boxer script may well have been the second thing I actually completed. So very early 2002 at a guess. Ah well, no big deal. Dodgy East End dialogue aside (hey, I’d only been here just over a year), I’m still rather pleased with it for the most part, although the mockumentary format is a little done to death (read: cheap).

Anyway, on with it! Script at the link, notes after the break.

The Boxer - 1st Draft

I have a nagging suspicion the idea of a boxer who everyone bigs up but who is actually blatantly shit may have come out of discussions I had with my friends Doug and Ossie, but the idea of doing something in a mockumentary (wow, I really hate that word) style goes back to my first day of frantic brainstorming, as recounted in the first of these blog posts. The original idea was far more serious, a crime drama recounting the rise and fall of a gangland figure. I wrote a few lines of dialogue for it on that first day that actually make me physically cringe now I look back at them (I still have the original notes from that day). In the balance,
I’m happy I used the format on this.

I probably have more affection for the characters in this than I do for anything else I ever did.I admire plucky underdogs, however deluded they might be, and I feel that Jimmy is a pretty nice guy who has been used by Barry.

From what I can recall, this all came together fairly quickly, especially after the torturous development of the Jesus script. The only tricky thing I can think of was trying to tell the story while balancing screen time for the characters. It’s also the first time I tried to write something which involved quick cutaways, writing with a mind to editing. Writing with a mind to film, basically, and this was one that I did nearly go ahead with filming, thanks to its cheap, straightforward style.

Into the script itself:

Page 3: “When he were little, you should’ve seen him!”

Cor blimey guvnor, let’s have a knees up around the old Joanna. Okay, so this is something I always feel a bit funny about. Writing accents is always a fine line: too much and your script looks ridiculous; too little and you lose some essence of the character you’re trying to write. Again, this is one of those things that marks out a writer’s role in film. At the end of the day the actual dialogue will be based around the performance of an actor who will probably base his or her delivery on what they know. The script can certainly suggest accents and dialects (and should, I think), but I believe a writer needs to know when to let it go. One half-finished project I have is a radio-play adaptation of an Arthur Conan Doyle short story, with a cast composed mainly of Scottish sailors. Nightmare. That all being said, I was a resident of the East End for a while, within spitting distance of the Bow Bells, no less, so, y’know, it's all totally authentic.

Page 4: “A piano is playing in the background”

Now, to the untrained eye it may seem like I’m trying to convey the idea that the working class people of the East End have no appreciation of culture. Of course not. I’m merely-ahh-merely—oh, I guess I am. But it’s all good-natured, I can assure you. Actually, I just liked the idea that everyone was so invested in Jimmy, who actually wasn’t the talent he was being sold to be, that they were ignoring a prodigal talent under the same roof. I like to think that Rose represents a wellspring of hope, and that she will flourish within her newly supportive
environment after the end of this little story.

Page 5: “I could be sunning myself in Vegas!”

So I appreciate that it’s all a bit silly. Even if they were to support his ambitions, they would never become quite this deluded. It could be argued that painting these characters with such wide-eyed naiveté is just terribly patronising, and there is a part of me that cringes a little. But then, common as muck, me, so doesn’t that mean I’m allowed to poke fun?

Page 5: “We’re Jimmy’s oldest mates! Ain’t that right?”

Okay, so all the sequences with these guys are awful. There, I’ve said it. I don’t mind the idea of them, but in the execution they just suck. Terrible, tin-ear dialogue, for one thing.


This whole scene is just weird. So out of place with the rest of the thing, both in terms of featuring the interviewers themselves, and also for breaking the interview format. I certainly wanted some kind of finish with Barry, but this whole business of them being beaten up by thugs is just completely out of left field. Serious work needed here.

Page 14: “Pending getting my hands on a copy of When We Were Kings!”

Lazy bastard.

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