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SCREEN WRITING CLASS - MOD 2


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#21 squirrelygirl

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 11:28 PM

A man stands on a dark sidewalk. He watched the cars pass him for a beat. He opens his hand and looks at the ring he holds. Suddenly he darts into the street. A car strikes him, killing him. We see the ring land near the sidewalk.

Later, during the day, Josh, a high school boy, walks down that same street on his way to school. He notices the ring, picks it up, looks at it, and places it in his pocket. Josh goes to school and through his classes for the day. After school Josh talks to a girl about the same age. He hands her the ring, she slips it on her finger, suddenly she begins to vanish, but the ring remains. It falls to the ground with a metallic CLANG

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#22 aroundworld

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 11:34 AM

I'm waiting on Joseph guys, I just wanted to comment on everyone's work together.

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#23 aroundworld

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Posted 28 August 2012 - 06:27 PM

One thing I wanted to mention before we continue the discussion. I'm approaching everything I'm teaching based on my training. So, you will "hear" me suggest brevity in your scene descriptions as we get deeper into these lessons. It is natural to want to write in prose, however in screen writing the opposite is necessary.

Screen writing demands tight accurate descriptions that use as few words as possible to communicate a visual image to the reader. We're going to get into more of that sooner rather than later. I will be taking your scene descriptions and reducing them to only the words necessary to communicate the scene.

It's not a criticism, it's part of the course, and will help you should you decide to start submitting scripts to readers, at some point.





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#24 rgr

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 04:02 AM

QUOTE (aroundworld @ Aug 27 2012, 06:16 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Combining the PLANT/PAYOFF with INTERRUPTION of ROUTINE




Ok, what I would like you guys to try, is take what you've learned about PLANT/PAYOFF and INTERRUPTION of ROUTINE, and combine them in one situation. Just give me one or two paragraphs that uses either a:


Paper clip

Gun

Rag Doll

Ring

Or an object that you've already used in some other story.
PLANT the object in the ROUTINE of your character and PAYOFF during or after the INTERRUPTION.

Take your time.




I'm jumping in very late, but I just got back from Tennessee. So, I'll give one plant payoff example where it's non-obvious:

Episode of Columbo - Identity Crisis (starring Patrick McGoohan, guest starring Leslie Nielson)

The murder is setting up his alibi by getting to his office early -- he was supposed to write a speech the night before, but was busy committing murder. so, he's driving to his office and turns on the car radio. Some music plays, he changes the station to morning news. A news report plays, announces baseball scores, gives a generic political report, and mentions that China has pulled out of the olympics out of protest. He gets to the office, changes his grandfather clock to chime 11 times, as if he were in the office at 11PM the night before, and he leaves having set up the alibi.

At the very end of the episode, Columbo plays the recording of the speech that McGoohan's character made for his typist to type up and notices several things: a sound that indicated blinds were being closed is one of them. He says that is evidence the recording was made in the morning when the sun shines down on the desk, so the alibi of working at night is bogus. McGoohan offers some alternate explanation and laughs it off.

Then Columbo plays the part of the speech that included a joke about the Chinese pulling out of the olympics and informs McGoohan that it couldn't have been the night before because China only pulled out of the olympics the morning after the murder -- there is no way he could have made the recording the night before and have included that joke. It's a brilliant episode.

OK, my attempt at the writing assignment.

(note: I have no idea how to get the formatting to stick, it's not formatted using totally correct indent spacing, but it's relatively correct -- just not when it displays the post. Oh well)
(second note: I didn't work on the dialogue so please forgive me on that)

--

Lisa, a young woman of 25, athletic and good looking, dressed in a sharp business suit, comes home from work to an empty apartment. She drops her coat on a sofa and places her keys on the kitchen counter. She reaches into the refrigerator and pulls out a half full bottle of wine and pours herself a glass. There's a light flashing on the answering machine.

She walks into the living room where a rag doll is propped up on a rocking chair in the corner.

LISA
So, what do you think about my new hair cut, Rags? Not quite
as glamourous as Sister's, huh? Oh well. At least I don't have to
rely on anybody else to pay my bills, right?

Lisa lifts the glass in a toast.

LISA
Here's to being an independent woman. God, I really hate that bitch.

She taks a sip of wine, puts the glass down and walks out of the room. We hear a door close and water begin to run.

RAGS moves its head and squints, and smiles devilishly.

Lisa comes back into the room wearing a jogging suit. On the way out the door, she hit's play on the answering machine. It's the POLICE:

POLICE
This is the police. I'm calling to let you know that your sister was attacked in her home
earlier this afternoon. We'd like to speak to you as soon as possible. Please give us a call
as soon as you get this message.

Lisa begins to dial the phone frantically but then looks around the room and notices that Rags is no longer in the chair. She looks around but can't find it anywhere.

RAGS is on the floor at Lisa's feet, still smiling.

RAGS
I hate that bitch too.

Lisa SCREAMS.

#25 aroundworld

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 04:14 AM

Everyone! I am not looking for script formatting OR DIALOG, NOT EVEN CLOSE! We're just working on principals of story telling for this "semester". I will be covering a little bit if that later on, and of course whether you choose to use it or not is up to you. FOR NOW, please don't worry about formatting.

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#26 JosephKw

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 06:59 AM

ROUTINE: Henry is sitting at his computer at home. It is a comfortable spring day and he has the window open. The breeze blows some sheets of paper off his table. Henry picks up the papers, looks around his desk, and spots a paperclip (the PLANT). He clips the papers together and puts it on his desk again. Henry turns to his work again. Aaron, his young son, screams for attention. Henry hushes his son to return to his work, but it doesn't last long. Unable to work, Henry looks around the table and grabs a sheet of paper. He folds a rudimentary and shoddy paper airplane which he hands to Aaron. Henry returns to his computer. The plane does not fly well and Aaron again wails. Henry gives up and goes to the kitchen for a bottle of beer.

While his father is away, Aaron spots the paperclip on the table (PAYOFF). He unclips it, and puts it on the tip of his airplane. The extra weight makes the plane soar--right out the open window. Aaron climbs onto a chair and goes out the window after the plane. Henry returns to find his papers all over the floor again. He picks up the paper, and takes another clip out from his drawer. He continues to work on his computer. A commotion is heard outside his house, as cars stop and people talk incoherently in the distance. Henry gets up to close the window so he can at last work in peace. A knocking at his door interrupts Henry's work once again. Two officers stand there and asks Henry if he can help identify a dead boy in the street who was apparently hit by a car (INTERRUPT).

#27 aroundworld

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 10:56 AM

QUOTE (kkffoo @ Aug 27 2012, 06:44 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
John is clearing out his gutters, he moves up and down a ladder carrying a scoop (in his left hand he is left handed)
By the side of the house we see him add to a fresh pile of gunk and leaves.
Next to the new wet pile of leaves are older piles of gutter gunk from previous clear-outs. In the old & new piles are some scattered items of rubbish, such as burst balls, broken frisbees, and birds nests.
John is at the top of the ladder poking around, he pulls out a muddied rag doll. The drain pipe flows freely, water overflows the drain and runs down the driveway.
We see the highly polished shoes of local busy body Desiree Winchester being dirtied by the water. She marches up the driveway.
John sees her, sighs, and climbs down the ladder. He stands with his hands behind his back as the waves some 'Vote for the Mayor' campaign leaflets under his nose.
The leaflets have photos of the potential new Mayor.
The Potential new Mayor is seen crossing the street, after shaking hands with a voter. He is wearing an eyepatch.
Desiree calls him over to introduce him to John.
The PNM holds out his hand to shake John's. John brings out both hands from behind his back.
In his left hand a muddy scoop.
In his right the very muddy doll.
The doll has a missing eye.
John and the PNM look at each other.

Plant: Multiple, toys in rubbish pile, PNM shaking hands
Interruption: Desiree calls in
Payoff The handshake / eyepatch


This is subtle and clever. Your interruption is clear. THe plant/PAYOFF is clear. Great parallel to the missing "eye" on the rag doll and eye patch on the PNM. This makes me wonder what kind of man the PNM really is!

Here's what I'm asking, who's life does the rag doll represent? I think it's the PNM! We'll have to watch the movie! I love the subtlety and metaphor here. Great job!

EXPECTATION!


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#28 aroundworld

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 11:13 AM

QUOTE (squirrelygirl @ Aug 27 2012, 11:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
A man stands on a dark sidewalk. He watched the cars pass him for a beat. He opens his hand and looks at the ring he holds. Suddenly he darts into the street. A car strikes him, killing him. We see the ring land near the sidewalk.

Later, during the day, Josh, a high school boy, walks down that same street on his way to school. He notices the ring, picks it up, looks at it, and places it in his pocket. Josh goes to school and through his classes for the day. After school Josh talks to a girl about the same age. He hands her the ring, she slips it on her finger, suddenly she begins to vanish, but the ring remains. It falls to the ground with a metallic CLANG


You got my me asking questions right off! The plant is very clear (Boy killing himself/ring in his hand) Both elements get me to ASK, Why did he kill himself? What did the ring have to do with it?

Of course with the ring the audience will make assumptions; broken heart, break-up...etc. But in the pay off, we see that the ring is deadly, making the girl vanishes and we assume that this boy will kill himself as well. Does he?

I'm hooked. EXPECTATION!

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#29 aroundworld

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 06:28 PM

QUOTE (JosephKw @ Aug 29 2012, 06:59 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
ROUTINE: Henry is sitting at his computer at home. It is a comfortable spring day and he has the window open. The breeze blows some sheets of paper off his table. Henry picks up the papers, looks around his desk, and spots a paperclip (the PLANT). He clips the papers together and puts it on his desk again. Henry turns to his work again. Aaron, his young son, screams for attention. Henry hushes his son to return to his work, but it doesn't last long. Unable to work, Henry looks around the table and grabs a sheet of paper. He folds a rudimentary and shoddy paper airplane which he hands to Aaron. Henry returns to his computer. The plane does not fly well and Aaron again wails. Henry gives up and goes to the kitchen for a bottle of beer.

While his father is away, Aaron spots the paperclip on the table (PAYOFF). He unclips it, and puts it on the tip of his airplane. The extra weight makes the plane soar--right out the open window. Aaron climbs onto a chair and goes out the window after the plane. Henry returns to find his papers all over the floor again. He picks up the paper, and takes another clip out from his drawer. He continues to work on his computer. A commotion is heard outside his house, as cars stop and people talk incoherently in the distance. Henry gets up to close the window so he can at last work in peace. A knocking at his door interrupts Henry's work once again. Two officers stand there and asks Henry if he can help identify a dead boy in the street who was apparently hit by a car (INTERRUPT).


I made the mistake of reading this when I woke up this morning. Not because it's bad, it's just so heart wrenching.


Ok, you've got a lot going on here:

1. The plant (paper clip) very clear! The situation surrounding it is plausible.

2. Interruption #1 - boy wanting to play very clear and plausible!

3. The payoff paper clip grabbed by the boy and flown out the window on the paper airplane, boy chasing it. VERY CLEAR!

My question on #3: How old is the boy? Would he know better than to jump out a high window?

4. Interruption #2 - the boy's death very clear! This changes the father's life forever.

Question on #4:

A. Wouldn't the fall alone kill the boy instead of being hi by the car?

B. If the father went to close the window, wouldn't he look out to see what's causing the commotion and see his boy in the street?

But if the father was interrupted while making a sandwich and the knock came at the door, WE KNOW what's coming, the father doesn't.

If the father looks out the window, we ask ourselves; "Didn't he see his boy lying in the street?" This will steal away the suspense factor of the police coming to the door.

If the father is left unaware of the commotion while he makes a sandwich and has to answer the door, now we're waiting to see him wonder where his son is and watch him react to the boys death.

See the difference?

These are observations that an audience would make. And if you want you work critiqued by a professional reader he/she will absolutely point these small logic problems out. Just something to be aware of. smile.gif


AUDIENCE SUPERIORITY

This is something Hitchcock was famous for!

In your scenario, we knew BEFORE THE FATHER (AUDIENCE SUPERIORITY) that his son died. What this technique does, is get the audience more invested in the character. Well done!







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#30 aroundworld

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 09:08 PM

QUOTE (rgr @ Aug 29 2012, 04:02 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I'm jumping in very late, but I just got back from Tennessee. So, I'll give one plant payoff example where it's non-obvious:

Episode of Columbo - Identity Crisis (starring Patrick McGoohan, guest starring Leslie Nielson)

The murder is setting up his alibi by getting to his office early -- he was supposed to write a speech the night before, but was busy committing murder. so, he's driving to his office and turns on the car radio. Some music plays, he changes the station to morning news. A news report plays, announces baseball scores, gives a generic political report, and mentions that China has pulled out of the olympics out of protest. He gets to the office, changes his grandfather clock to chime 11 times, as if he were in the office at 11PM the night before, and he leaves having set up the alibi.

At the very end of the episode, Columbo plays the recording of the speech that McGoohan's character made for his typist to type up and notices several things: a sound that indicated blinds were being closed is one of them. He says that is evidence the recording was made in the morning when the sun shines down on the desk, so the alibi of working at night is bogus. McGoohan offers some alternate explanation and laughs it off.

Then Columbo plays the part of the speech that included a joke about the Chinese pulling out of the olympics and informs McGoohan that it couldn't have been the night before because China only pulled out of the olympics the morning after the murder -- there is no way he could have made the recording the night before and have included that joke. It's a brilliant episode.

OK, my attempt at the writing assignment.

(note: I have no idea how to get the formatting to stick, it's not formatted using totally correct indent spacing, but it's relatively correct -- just not when it displays the post. Oh well)
(second note: I didn't work on the dialogue so please forgive me on that)

--

Lisa, a young woman of 25, athletic and good looking, dressed in a sharp business suit, comes home from work to an empty apartment. She drops her coat on a sofa and places her keys on the kitchen counter. She reaches into the refrigerator and pulls out a half full bottle of wine and pours herself a glass. There's a light flashing on the answering machine.

She walks into the living room where a rag doll is propped up on a rocking chair in the corner.

LISA
So, what do you think about my new hair cut, Rags? Not quite
as glamourous as Sister's, huh? Oh well. At least I don't have to
rely on anybody else to pay my bills, right?

Lisa lifts the glass in a toast.

LISA
Here's to being an independent woman. God, I really hate that bitch.

She taks a sip of wine, puts the glass down and walks out of the room. We hear a door close and water begin to run.

RAGS moves its head and squints, and smiles devilishly.

Lisa comes back into the room wearing a jogging suit. On the way out the door, she hit's play on the answering machine. It's the POLICE:

POLICE
This is the police. I'm calling to let you know that your sister was attacked in her home
earlier this afternoon. We'd like to speak to you as soon as possible. Please give us a call
as soon as you get this message.

Lisa begins to dial the phone frantically but then looks around the room and notices that Rags is no longer in the chair. She looks around but can't find it anywhere.

RAGS is on the floor at Lisa's feet, still smiling.

RAGS
I hate that bitch too.

Lisa SCREAMS.


HA HA! Great Twilight Zone tribute! laugh.gif



The Colombo EP

I loved that show, I used to watch it with my dad all the time! smile.gif

There's a lot happening in this EP.

Ok, lets "ID" the recorder as the main plant / payoff prop since it's the central prop that Magoohan hangs himself with.

You have four elements that are used in this plant/payoff: The car radio, clock, window shades and tape recorder. All of this information is captured on the recorder either by Magoohan repeating what he heard on the radio or by the recorder capturing "extraneous" noise in his office.

Are all of these props legitimate to create a plant? YES!

They work (obviously) because all the information communicated to the audience (radio, shades, clock, tape recorder) was given a central focus point (the recorder) and CLEARLY communicated to the audience how Magoohan screwed up, and how Colombo caught him!

The recorder demonstrated CLEARLY all the elements of the plant. And was part of the payoff.

My point here is this, when you have more than one prop working in the PLANT/ PAYOFF, make sure there effect on the character is CLEAR. Each one in plays a TANGIBLE roll in the outcome of the scene.


RAG DOLL SCENE


The girl begins a dialog with her rag doll, VERY CLEAR set-up!

The girl leaves the room and changes

The Rag doll winks and sneers, Razing EXPECTATIONS (suspense) VERY CLEAR.

The girl talks on the phone, the rag doll appears at her feet talking. PAYOFF. Very clear!


Nice Job Rgr!

You missed the announcement. We're not using dialog in our assignments at the moment. We'll get in to a little bit of that at the end of the course. And then in SCREEN WRITING 1 we'll be using it regularly.

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#31 aroundworld

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 10:16 PM

THANKS! All of you for taking the time to post! These were great examples!!!


You guys are story tellers in your own right already. A fact that I want you to know isn't lost on me. I appriciate you taking the time to join in the class and do the work. I'm learning as well!

What are your thoughts so far? Questions? Observations?


Lets take some time and talk about what we've covered so far.

The combination of: INTERRUPTION of ROUTINE and PLANT AND PAYOFF.


What do you guys think?

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#32 squirrelygirl

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 11:02 PM

Both Interruption of Routine and Plant and Payoff are important devices in any form of storytelling be it film or book form. Both move the story along and help to hold the audience attention.

Interruption of Routine is a way to force the hero to begin his/her journey, but it is also a way to throw up obstacles along that journey. Giving the story that would have had a straight path otherwise, many twists and turns making the audience more invested in the hero and making the story that much more interesting.

Plant and Payoff is another way to keep the audience interested and make them more a part of the story by making them feel certain things at certain times. When the audience sees the glue and the hat in Matilda it gives them a lighthearted "Uh oh" feeling as they wonder what prank she is going to pull, but in A Knight's Tale when they see the tipped lance they get a much darker "Uh oh what is that dirty so and so up to now" feeling. Plant and Payoff adds emotion to the story and can create it's own twists.

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#33 aroundworld

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 12:48 AM

Every story has plant and payoff and interruption of routine! smile.gif

Shirl makes a great point about the context of PLANT/PAYOFF and INTERRUPTION of ROUTINE.

In one situation these story elements can make us laugh, in another it makes us angry or sad. AMAZING!!!!!


Shirl's story about the ring, Kate's one eyed Rag Doll and eye patch mayoral candidate, Josephs paperclip, and Rgr's talking rag doll.

Each of your scenarios have more in common than just the plant/payoff and interruption of routine; what do you think is the common link in your scenes?

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#34 kkffoo

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 07:17 AM

I think I am going to need a clue.

There's a lot going on in everyone's stories and I'm finding it tricky to think about them all at the same time...if that makes sense.
All of them are quite rich, when I read them I probably see things which the writer doesn't say, which is really good, because it means the writing is engaging, but also makes it hard to extract the core elements.

I hope we stay on this topic long enough for the lesson to sink in for me!

#35 JosephKw

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 09:28 AM

I was hoping someone else would respond to this question first because I'm also clueless. Oh well, here goes my speculation (it would help if I had a course syllabus since I suspect this discussion leads to our next topic); all of these examples lead to audience expectation. Each of these devices, the ROUTINE/INTERRUPT, and the PLANT/PAYOFF result in the viewer wondering what will happen next. They engage and hopefully enthrall the audience to continue viewing and wonder about what is to come.

So is that the answer? If not, here's my second guess...the commonality between all these submissions is that they're all written in English. ;P Can't wait to see which guess is correct.

#36 aroundworld

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 05:46 PM

I will stay on this topic as long as you guys need to! smile.gif I'm having a blast. biggrin.gif

Lets wait for Shirl and Rgr, and I'll get into the answer.

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#37 aroundworld

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 05:51 PM

QUOTE (JosephKw @ Aug 30 2012, 09:28 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I was hoping someone else would respond to this question first because I'm also clueless. Oh well, here goes my speculation (it would help if I had a course syllabus since I suspect this discussion leads to our next topic); all of these examples lead to audience expectation. Each of these devices, the ROUTINE/INTERRUPT, and the PLANT/PAYOFF result in the viewer wondering what will happen next. They engage and hopefully enthrall the audience to continue viewing and wonder about what is to come.

So is that the answer? If not, here's my second guess...the commonality between all these submissions is that they're all written in English. ;P Can't wait to see which guess is correct.



That's not the answer, but without those devices the central part of your story would be static. cool.gif

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#38 rgr

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 05:55 PM

My guess (and it's not one I make with high confidence) is that what we have in common is that the "plant" is introduced as part of the "routine" (though in Shirley's case, it's maybe less routine), and the "payoff" is tightly coupled with the "interruption".

#39 aroundworld

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 06:11 PM

Nope. smile.gif


I don't want to give any hints because I really want to make this sink in. But you've all come up with very thought provoking guesses.

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#40 kkffoo

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 07:31 PM

Due to not having a clue falling back on wild guesswork.

All scenes travel forwards in time with no skipping or flashbacks.
All are scenes which occur early on in a story.
All scenes introduce characters.
All scenes happen in domestic environments.
All scenes happen in 'the present day'.



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