John: All right, let’s next go to Mr. Jeff Pulice.
John: Now, this is a very special Three Page Challenge entry.
Craig: Yeah it is.
John: So, people who listened to the Q&A from the live show, the holiday live show, will know that Jeff Pulice was there in person and he asked us why have you not done my Three Page Challenge. And so Stuart was there and we brought Stuart up and said like, hey, do you know this guy, do you know his Three Page Challenge.
And then Stuart revealed the elaborate system by which he figures out Three Page Challenges.
John: And after that revelation we said, Mr. Pulice, we will find your Three Page Challenge and we will feature it on the next time we do this. So, this is Mr. Jeff Pulice’s.
Craig: And I thought his name was Police as in cops, but it is Pulice like Pulice if you’re going to be appropriately Italian. So, Jeff Pulice, there’s no title on this but we fade in in a sitting room –
John: And I think he told us what the title was though at the — How the Genetti Brothers Saved Hollywood or Created Hollywood.
Craig: Oh, okay, well that’s a good name. So, we begin in a sitting room in the morning and the title says “Bayonne, New Jersey, 1902.” It’s a dingy apartment and Roxy Huston, who is a 20-year-old hot woman with red hair is getting into a bathtub and she’s barely dressed. The tub is cold as ice. And we reveal that this is being filmed. Carlo Genetti, 27 years old, is kind of the producer of this little film that we’re making. And his brother, Primo, is the cameraman. And they’re using an Edison Moving Pictures Co. camera. And it’s quite clear that they’re making a porno.
And so she gets into the tub and is following the direction to pretend that the ice cold tub is, in fact, nice and warm and comforting. And now it’s time for Jamie to come in and find her. And Jamie is not hearing his cue. Finally Jamie, the horny landlord, comes in and delivers his line, “Two weeks late with the rent? You’re in hot water now, you little tramp!” But the film has run out because Jamie took too long to come in and it’s just not going well.
We cut outside to the street and there is a horse-drawn wagon full of Irishmen, burly Irishmen, holding baseball bats and axes, and they are led by a man named Eugene Cortland who has apparently been hired by Mr. Edison to beat up the Italians — Italians in general, I think, and he delivers an inspirational speech about how these Irishmen are going to win the day by beating up these awful Italians.
And then we’re back to the sitting room where Carlo is patient explaining to his actor, Jamie, that it’s really important that Jamie figures this out and gets this done, gets the scene done so that they get paid and he gets paid. Carlo gives Roxy one last little bit of instruction, and that is our three pages.
John: Our three pages. I like the idea of this a lot. I do very much like the idea of looking at the start of the film industry from a titillating perspective and a somewhat inept perspective of like trying to make this little film in someone’s bathtub and this is what creates the industry. We don’t know where all this is going, but I liked sort of how it started. And I can sort of see how it started.
I had some issues and concerns about the rules of the world. For instance, this is a pre-sound time, so it shouldn’t matter that he comes in and says his line, but he says his line. That would be a title card. I felt like there were jokes that could have been put in there that didn’t happen because of the nature of a silent film about this, but that’s fine.
Where it lost me, honestly, when we get out to the street and we see Cortland, and Cortland has his speech. It was just — I had a really hard time parsing his dialogue and sort of even what he was talking about and why we were listening to him talk right then. And so I was so eager to get back into this bathroom, the sitting room, and continuing with the filming of the movie.
Craig: I agree with you just about in all ways. I think that this is a great idea for a movie. I love the idea — I think porn is fascinating, particularly –
John: I would question like, so clearly we’re not supposed to see her boobies. The goal is that it’s near-porn.
Craig: Yeah, it may be so that it’s near porn. But the idea is that it’s whatever porn counted for in 1902. This is a pornographic film. When she’s getting into a tub and then this guy is going to say, “You’re in hot water now, you little tramp.” I suspect then she’s going to have to have sex with him to pay the rent.
So, we’re dealing with a porn of the kind, and porn is part of our culture now in a way it has never been before. And underlining, it’s an old saw, but porn is always the first proof of new technology. And it’s quite likely that this is true that porn was an early use of motion picture film cameras.
So, it’s a really interesting topic and I like the way it starts. There’s a comedy. There’s a light tone to it. There are two brothers. I like the quiet brother, doesn’t say anything but mutters in Italian. There is a truth to that.
And I like the way it was written. It was a little overwritten here and there, but in general good details. I could see the room. I could see her getting in. I could see the direction of it all. And I think that the sound issues, it seemed that the problem was that they just ran out of film, because Jamie was late on his cue. I also — but I do agree with you that there is a tonal issue when we go outside to this guy, Eugene Cortland.
This was a common thing at the time that companies would hire thugs to do their bidding. Carnegie was most notorious for this sort of thing, but here you have a character, an interesting character, a villain and I want this villain to be better. I think, you know, like Bill the Butcher was such a wonderful guy, such a great villain, such a terrible, wonderful guy. This guy, his thugs are a little too goofy. I think there was a mistake here that Jeff makes.
Cortland is sitting with all of these guys and then he begins a speech sort of dead. “Gentleman, what do I hate?” No one does this out of nowhere. And they answer, they drop the N-bomb, which is always going to put people back on their heels a little bit, especially if it’s in service of a joke. And then he says, “No, no, no. I hate these Dagos.”
And then he delivers a speech. And the speech is kind of a Bill the Butcher speech, but to me I would much rather see a realer version of this scene, particularly because he’s going to be the villain. I want to believe that there’s a real threat here. And I want this to be truer, maybe, to the way it went.
John: I would also, let’s take a look at this from a pacing point of view. So, we have about a page and a half first scene, and then we get out to the street and that’s another page that we’re out there and it’s just a dialogue scene. How much better it could be if we had that first scene, just keep it exactly the way it is, then cut to outside and we see guys getting out of the truck and they’re getting their baseball bats and their stuff. And so we see that something is about to happen. And then we go back in.
So, we don’t really introduce Cortland by words yet. You just see that there is all this activity happening outside. Frenzy, frenzy, frenzy. And then we go back inside and suddenly there’s tension to be back in that sitting room because we know something bad is about to happen. Something is about to show up.
Craig: Correct. And what you’re really putting your finger on is the absolute lack of transitions between these two moments and they need transitions. You’re correct. Because all we’re going to know is we’re in a room and then we’re outside, somewhere. We don’t even know if we’re in the same town, for god’s sakes.
Craig: So, you’re right. You do need that transitional element. You need to have Primo cross by the window cursing, and then we look out the window and we see this thing pulling up. And then we’re down on the street. We see these guys come out and it also gives you an opportunity to learn about Cortland in a more interesting way. All of these men are getting their bats and their axes. And maybe one guy looks at Cortland and says, “I’m a little uncomfortable with this. Do you really think that we’re going to need to use these?”
And Cortland takes the bat from the guy’s hand as if to say you don’t need to use this and then whacks him on the head with it. [laughs] You know, give us something where we go, ooh god, this is a bad guy, other than a speech. Speeches are wonderful for later.
Craig: When we’ve established that this is a bad guy. Then the speech will be surprising and will reveal some interesting things, I think. But you’re absolutely right that there is a big lack of transition here and this is precisely where screenwriters get into trouble with directors. They don’t provide these transitions. The directors will begin to rework things to get the transitions. Much better for us to be a participant in that process.
John: Yeah. Where the narrative is actually creating the transition. And by going to outside you’re increasing the tension and by coming back inside you’re increasing the tension. Every time you cut, every time you move from one place to another place, you should be sort of providing energy on both sides of the cut, of the transition. And we’re not feeling that here.
Craig: Especially when we want tension. Especially when we want to feel like Carlo is having this casual discussion with an actor and he has no idea that 40 Irishmen are about to head up to the fifth floor to beat the crap out of him.
That all said, I’m very hopeful about this.
John: I am, too.
Craig: I think this is a really good idea for a movie. It could be terrific. And I think this is something that Jeff can do. I like the dialogue. I thought there were a lot of good things in it.
John: Now, I took it that Cortland and his men were there to beat him up, or Kodak sent them there because he didn’t want his cameras used to make porn. Is that what you took?
Craig: Well, he’s working for Edison, so yes.
John: Or Edison.
Craig: I think that that’s exactly right. That Edison does not want his cameras to be used for porn. And that’s an age old problem where people that make technology don’t want it used for porn, but until porn actually popularizes the technology — it’s the birth of this strange symbiotic relationship, this embarrassing relationship between technology and porn. So, for that reason I find it very fascinating, particularly if it’s real.
Craig: So, I’m hopeful. Very hopeful.
John: I’m hopeful, too. And so that detail about it being Edison and being his camera, in the very first page we’re seeing the detail on the camera, which is great.
But right now on page two we’re tipping the Edison of it all. It would be more interesting to me if we just don’t know why these people are showing up. And so our mind can start to race. What are the reasons why these people are going to show up to do this? Is it because it’s porn? Is it because it’s a girl? Because these guys are behind on money?
And then it would be a nice surprise that it’s about the camera. That it is Edison himself who sent them.
Craig: Exactly. And if they do beat these guys up and then Cortland leans in to poor Carlo, who is slumped on the floor, picks the camera up and says, “Mr. Edison thanks you for your choice in cameras, but requests again that you not use it for this filth,” and then walks out.
We would go, ooh boy, Edison is a jerk! [laughs]
John: Yeah, and then smashes the title card. And you’re off to the races.
Craig: You’re off to the races. Exactly. It’s just about transition and structuring the reveals here. But some good stuff.
John: So, Jeff Pulice, thank you for standing up during the Q&A and getting us to read your script.
Craig: Nice work, Jeff. Good job, Jeff.