A Participant says:
How do I know you wrote a great piece?
Cause I want this to me MINE. That's how.
just the right combination of spineless and desperate
sould be: desperation
Thanks so much, that means a lot. However, if I were to change it to "desperation," I would then have to change it to "spinelessness" considering "desperation" is a noun.
A Participant says:
Sorry. I actually misread your spineless for spinelessness.
Let me translate this to myself: Ravno pravšnja kombinacija nevretenčarja in obupa.
Yup. Common dislexia.
Angel, this is a good piece. However, the key thing about this that makes it fail is that its set to people killing themselves. If you think about it, that is such a horrific act and for your star to get people to do this? You won't make it past the pitch. It's a sad, lonely place for those who have done this to themselves. I for one have personal experience in this and to hear about a show like this? I would not watch it.
I suggest reworking the idea of it. Hell is full. Mort has to convince people not to kill themselves. Not that he gives a damn but because he has to help keep the population down.
I appreciate you taking the time to read. However, I must disagree with you. I'll go point by point:
"You won't make it past the pitch."
Incorrect. I have pitched this to several producers and writers who work in the industry. They gave me positive feedback. You can see other positive reviews here on this site. You yourself read this piece long enough for you to judge that it is, in your own words, "good." I obviously made it "past the pitch" with you and the other people who read it. So when you say it "fails," are you basing this on your personal tastes or what you ASSUME TV executives are going to say about it? I am absolutely fine with you having your own opinion, I just wouldn't try to speak for others.
"If you think about it, that is such a horrific act and for your star to get people to do this?"
Yes. It's horrific and awful. And that's why it's funny. We expect the protagonist of a TV series to always have the best intentions and motivations, but the truth is we can identify with even the most evil, narcissistic people. So to have death be the "happy ending" at the end of every episode is itself a joke. The whole setting and premise of this show is meant to be absurd and is meant to provoke the viewer into looking at life and death itself as absurd.
"It's a sad, lonely place for those who have done this to themselves. I for one have personal experience in this and to hear about a show like this? I would not watch it."
I have personal experience with this myself, as well. I know people who've killed themselves. I've visited that sad, lonely place you speak of and fought with suicidal thoughts. That doesn't mean this show is meant to trivialize the SOCIAL PROBLEM of suicide. It uses the ACT of suicide as a satirical equalizer. If you pay attention, the victims are never people who are depressed and at the end of their rope. They are people who live disgustingly comfortable lives at the expense of others, people who make a living being disingenuous. The self-help guru in the pilot doesn't go to therapy because he's depressed, he goes to therapy because of his uncontrollable contempt for people he deceives. Getting them to kill themselves is forcing them to accept that, in the end, they aren't any more valuable or privileged that the rest of us.
"I suggest reworking the idea of it. Hell is full. Mort has to convince people not to kill themselves. Not that he gives a damn but because he has to help keep the population down."
Nope. Sorry. There are too many shows that have to end on an "uplifting" note where everyone learns a lesson and hugs and feels better about life. They all bore me. Pop culture is already too full of things that are uplifting, saccharine, anodyne, safe, and un-provocative. If I wanted to do that, I would have written another sitcom with five guys on a couch trading repartee about their crappy jobs.
Life is full of horrible, dark, frightening things, and those are the things we NEED to laugh at the most, because that's how our lives actually become better. If we only have a sense of humor about things that are "okay" to laugh at, that's when we let sadness overcome us. Being able to laugh about a problem does the exact opposite of stigmatizing it, it brings it out into the light and makes everyone look at it. When we treat a topic as taboo because we're uncomfortable about it, it becomes impossible to have a really productive discussion about it.
That's my motivation for doing this show. It's not your cup of tea. That's fine. However, there is an audience for this kind of humor, and that is the audience I want to connect to. I don't want to compromise the very core of the humor just so I can reach out to everyone who wants their entertainment to play nice.
Sorry if this came off sounding too hostile. I appreciate your feedback and hope I gave you the thoughts you were looking for.
A Participant says:
Well, here's my 5 cents.
I know death. Don't ask. I am old enough and I do dangerous shit.
It is what it is. We are sad about it, but it's as much a part of life as anything. Grim idea or no grim idea - the writing is excellent and I think Angel can pull more where this came from.
Perhaps it's going to be a long and painful journey to actually do this for a big network, but your writing skills are phenomenal and you will get noticed when pitching this. That's the whole idea. Get noticed. Once you are hot, it's easier to push stuff like this.
As far as studios, producers and directors go - I have all three lined up here in Slovenia waiting to film my idea, but if the national TV doesn't show the dough, we're screwed. So looks like money talks. Oh, that's why I'm here as well. Throw as many baits as possible.
I did not like the content of this script. I enjoyed the writing immensely and feel that Angel can easily be a writer for a show. However, this topic is too sad.
Now, I accept what Angel says and I agree with most of it. Same with Tony's comments. However, "we are sad about it, but it's as much a part of life as anything"...why don't we do a sitcom about high school shootings then?
I appreciate your conviction in your writing. Don't pander for the masses. However, also accept feedback and criticism when it's not coming from any other place than personal taste. At the end of the day, you're needing an audience with whom your idea will match up with their personal taste.
Some things, in my opinion, are better left alone. Not taboo, just better left not to make into satire.
I think this is good work and you can be a really great writer.
"why don't we do a sitcom about high school shootings then?"
Because nobody's tried it yet.
"However, also accept feedback and criticism when it's not coming from any other place than personal taste. At the end of the day, you're needing an audience with whom your idea will match up with their personal taste."
I am perfectly accepting of criticism. Accepting criticism, however, doesn't mean always going "you're right, let me change it." I have every right to explain and defend my creative choices.
I applaud you for your conviction with your writing. I'm not saying to change it for the sake of changing it. I just hope that if you're ever in front of a network exec and he says change this or that...you take a different stance.
Let's try this: what changes would you make to your own project?
If it comes down to money, I'll change it to Mother Theresa giving baths to kittens. I have conviction but I'm not stupid.
A Participant says:
It's official. You my favorite competition here. (Kittens and all)
I have to admit, this has to be one of the funniest pilots I've ever read. Then again, I love twisted humor. I'm looking forward to reading the next episode or your next pilot.
There's a lot of funny stuff in here. Mort is a well-drawn character and the world is pretty clear. I have some thoughts to try to improve it, but take them or leave them. Funny stuff with the Mom in Hell. I think you did a really good job setting up an earth-bound A-story and a hell-bound B-story. Most of my notes are about the A-story and what Mort's doing.
Mainly I read because I share others' concerns about the procedural element of suicide. However, I think you have a great opportunity here - what if Mort just has to get people to sin? I think you can have a lot more fun with a character trying to get stuck up people to let loose. The sins themselves would be a lot of fun to watch. And I could totally buy the idea that what Hell needs is more sinning. The "100 Deaths" aspect reeks of "sitcom 100" so I would either undercut it by having the devil double his work load or maybe lose it.
I also feel like the corporate Hell thing has been done before, and I wonder if there's a fresh spin you can put on it here. Like, Hell is working on changing it's corporate image so it's more of an internet start-up workplace than a global conglomerate - devils on bouncy balls kind of thing.
Also, I think you should clarify that while Mort changes, he is still the same actor, just in a different look (bald cap, fat suit, etc... I think there's a really funny joke where Mort says he's still himself... just uglier). Also, I always cringe when I read about someone who wants to be an actor, but that's the industry in me. It works for the character and the story... but maybe he (very comically and unrealistically) wants to be an assassain? or a hit man? but he can't kill anyone, he has to get them to kill themselves...
I don't think devils should say "what the hell" but maybe "what the earth" is funnier.
I missed the introduction of the orangutan (does he appear before Mort turns into him?). And I think you're going to have an issue with a) having an orangutan and b) having him smoke. Why doesn't Mort turn into his assistant (if you keep with the shapeshifting... otherwise, I'd just have him turn into a butler).
Page 19 and no act breaks... I guess maybe it doesn't matter for Amazon. But I did miss "act break moments" of great suspense. The story moves along fairly well, but it takes 13 pages to get to his mission - is there any way to get to this earlier? Maybe drop out the grandfather death, it seemed gratuitous, not funny, and made Mort seem really not smart.
Aaron already seems like someone who's going to Hell. I don't understand why they need him there faster, especially since he's already in the bag. I would imagine Mort would be sent after good Christians who would be a lock to get into heaven. Then he could really struggle trying to change people to get them to do the wrong thing (which I think could be sinning, but again could be suicide... just makes the obstacle bigger)
It's really well structured and the characters are fairly solid. But I think you should think about that you're trying to say as a writer. Not that everything needs a lesson, but I don't know if I want to see someone kill themselves week after week without any kind meaning.
Sam, thanks for reading. You have some valid points I will percolate on.
The problem with just getting them to sin is then how are you sure they're going to Hell? One of the things I set up in the beginning is that Hell's marketing problem is that Heaven is starting to get REALLY lenient, which is sort of a reference to real-life things like the Pope softening his stance on birth control, etc. etc. But suicide is final, and that's a sin. There's no room for redemption between the sin and death. From Hell's point of view, this is a more efficient and fool-proof method.
Keep in mind, this is meant to be animated. And I'm not the first one to try and incorporate suicide into a cartoon:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_mr9zU99oU <---- Especially THIS one. Whew.
I especially like your note of Hell being like an internet start-up, and although I painted sort of a generic "corporate" atmosphere in the pilot, I want to get into more of that as the series progresses.
The orangutan was introduced in the first scene with Mort visiting Aaron's estate before he enters the "one-on-one."
I guess overall I'm relieved what people have a problem with is just the subject matter and not that it's completely unfunny. So I am still encouraged by the feedback I'm getting. Thanks.
Ah, sorry, I missed the animated portion. And I see you have that in your log line, ha... It's a good premise. But I don't think softening the suicide aspect will hurt it as much as help it break out.
I think it's a credit to your writing that people can see this as live-action. And that certainly takes away my orangutan note. I know what you mean about redemption, and I think it's interesting how you discuss Heaven's rules being more lenient. I wonder if using that leniency as a way for Mort to get people to kill themselves would help. I think the suicide aspect will work much better in an animated format, so it's not as bad as I thought, but I would still think about creating a world where sins matter - say they fuel Hell's economy, and the bigger the sin the better. Maybe demon's have avatars to create more sin. Just a thought. It seems like you really want to keep the suicide aspect and I respect that, but considering other motivations may provide funnier plot lines. The variety of sin can provide more episodes in series, and will incorporate characters who are leaning more towards heaven than hell. I don't think the motivation speaker would go to heaven - maybe even making him more pure, and having Mort utilize a "sin" by inventing an audio tape that would cause him to kill himself, would be more effective in conveying the hell-vs-heaven point dynamic. It could make it much funnier if Mort never wanted to commit a sin, be the good mother's boy, but now has to sin bigger and bigger.
Suicide is the biggest sin there is. There might be a way to build to it, or at least build it up, so that while there are others encouraging sin, he's in the most elite group. There's a lot of sin in the world, and a lot of people think devils are behind it, so I think that's a rich area to explore. Either way, I'll be interested to see where you take the next draft. You have a strong voice and funny premise, which is more than half the battle. Happy writing!
Angel, nice work with this. Lots of funny moments. I don't necessarily think the suicide aspect is a huge problem if done right. However, it does make your job of getting us to root for Mort harder. For instance, in this pilot, I kept reading because I was curious how he would get the guy to kill himself, but I wasn't invested in the outcome. I feel like there needs to be something more immediate at stake. Saying, "You'll have to spend eternity with your mother if you fail," is too vague and kind of abstract. Mort should be trying to gain some kind of reward, not just avoid pain.
The first note I made was the same one Sam had about corporate hell being a bit overdone. I think C.S. Lewis first did it back in the 1940s. Not to say that means it can't be done again, but it definitely needs a unique approach.
Maybe if you flesh out the mythology of your hell a bit more, you'll arrive at some answers. I wasn't entirely sure why hell was losing market share. If anything, shouldn't these be boom times for hell? Kim Kardashian is one of the most famous women in the U.S. and she's basically just a pornstar with no work ethic.
Maybe heaven has found some loophole that lets them encroach on hell's territory. Maybe someone like Jerry Falwell has taken over heaven. By getting them to hell, Mort is actually saving these people from a heaven that is far, far worse. And if the audience knew his targets were going to die soon anyway, like they have some un-diagnosed terminal illness, I could see myself rooting for Mort in that case.
"I wasn't entirely sure why hell was losing market share. If anything, shouldn't these be boom times for hell? Kim Kardashian is one of the most famous women in the U.S. and she's basically just a pornstar with no work ethic."
What I was trying to establish is that, in the world of the series, it's a lot easier to get into heaven these days. It's funny you bring up the Kardashian example because despite her being someone who tries to pretend she's famous for anything other than her sex tape, she'll tweet about how much she loves God and goes to Bible Study. What if that's all it takes? Like, reading the Bible is a free admission coupon now?
That's the problem Hell's dealing with. It's like if you run a Motel 6 and all of a sudden the Hilton offers the same prices as you.
And my twist on Hell is that it's kind of like a hotel, or a resort, or a condominium community. There's just an office staff that helps manage all of the client's accounts. Perhaps I didn't establish that specific kind of atmosphere as much. Maybe the demons should be in polo shirts.
I really do want to explore all of the emotional implications of what Mort is doing in the show. The problem is in the US all comedies are a half-hour so I have to potentially gloss over subtleties for the sake of emphasizing the funnier parts and setting up all of the premises properly. Like Ahab, to the last will I grapple with this problem.
Can I ask why my star rating for your project was reported and removed? I gave you what I thought was fair as a professional. Obviously you disagree with a negative review, but to report my honest review so you can keep your star ratings high is immature as a writer. Basically you're saying that you only want positive feedback. Then pass it to your friends and family.
While I applaud that you have pitched this concept to producers, my opinion is is that it won't sell. It's a guy getting people to kill themselves. Yes, your pilot is funny. So what? Are networks going to buy one episode? Or will they say, while this one episode is funny....can we really sustain a year or two where every episode this guy is trying to get someone to commit one of the worst possible sins imaginable? Family guy have suicide jokes, yes, but not to the point where each episode revolves around this one act.
Let me point out again: This show is about a guy trying to get people to kill themselves. A network exec will ask someone other than you about the show and that is what they'll say. You think that network exec will want to hear it? You're not going to be the only person pitching this thing. You will have producers doing it for you and if you rely on the whole "give it a read" thing, it's going to fail. People wont even get to the point of reading it.
Respond if you will, but what I wrote above is just my opinion as a PROFESSIONAL who makes a decent living doing this. And obviously as my opinion is a negative one, you don't care to hear it and will probably report this too. You may be a great writer, but being a writer isn't just about words on paper. If you can't handle people criticizing your work, good luck being a successful writer.
A Participant says:
Angel, please. Don't say you contacted Amazon to remove one negative review...
I will put you off my favorite competition list...
"What I was trying to establish is that, in the world of the series, it's a lot easier to get into heaven these days."
I thought I was clear that I understood that hell is losing market share, meaning it's easier to get into heaven. But WHY is it easier to get into heaven than hell? That's basically the question that decides your series' premise.
What is going on in heaven that is increasing the number of people who go there despite all the contrary evidence we see here on earth.
Ever see the South Park movie? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Zv7toE87zo
Note the population signs. That, as far as I know, is the general consensus of how things work. So why is your hell mythology different?
I didn't have your review reported, Kris. I can't tell you what happened there. I'm not that petty.
Full disclosure, I reported an account, not you, that had written seventeen reviews that were all one-stars, so all I said to Amazon was "looks like possible downvote spam." Please feel free to re-post the two-star review, because I didn't want it removed, I just don't appreciate you jumping to conclusions simply because I disagreed with you.
The only reason a person would make a post like yours is because they feel threatened. This is a place for constructive criticism, not your "Give up and go home!" nonsense. Repost your comment if you think it was deleted unfairly.
Ask any comedian working and they'll say that anything can be funny in the right context. Your blind insistence that "suicide ain't funny!" adds nothing to the conversation. It's like you've never heard of George Carlin. Look up his 'Doin' It Again' special. Every studio exec you claim to speak for knows it by heart.
The only question worth answering in this thread is "How can suicide be funny?". That hasn't been done yet.
I am not able to re-post my review or rate it. That function is now disabled for me.
I do not feel threatened by talented individuals. Not to sound bad about it but I make money off of talented people so feeling threatened by them is pointless for me.
I think my questions and observations are warranted. I suggested that Angel should consider the fact that his idea may not be sustainable in a serialized form. To have every episode dedicated to encourage/manipulating someone into suicide can eventually take it's toll on an audience. And these are questions that network execs ask before going to bed with a show. And as such, these are questions the creator needs to ask as well. While you may not consider that "feedback" in the direct sense of "write this, develop that...", my opinion should not be dismissed as deriving from being threatened by Angel and his talent.
What's the point in telling the chef what ingredients to put in if the entire meal is inedible?