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#121 Ikon

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 22:10

I had to respond. Such supposition, so many assumptions, and so much sheer speculation, with virtually nothing to go on.

 

In my post I did say that I think RTG, and many game developers, make one common, serious mistake: not having a script nailed down before development begins. Most movie studios won't even consider making a movie until they have a finished script in hand. Game development and movie production are very similar. If Ragnar wrote his story, then broke it down into a finished script, before even 1 line of code was written, I think the cost to produce the game, and the time required to make it, would be much more predictable, and the targets would be more achievable.

 

Things like the U4 to U5 upgrade do happen, and are mostly unavoidable. Most projects run into at least 1 glitch along the way. However, if everything else is nailed down, these glitches are more manageable and cause less delay.


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#122 urzagc13

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 22:54

I'm pretty sure you understood Ragnar's tweet a bit incorrectly, Ikon. Ragnar writing the last scene now doesn't mean that there was no script "nailed down" beforehand, but merely that (most likely) the precise dialogue and maybe some detailed direction choices (camera angles, etc.) of that scene were not fully crystalized until now, but were just more generally described instead. And that is something that happens all the time with Movies, TV series, Video Games and Books (and Webcomics), it's not something unique here nor a sign of bad organization.


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#123 Ikon

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 22:58

Books??? How is that possible with books? BTW, edits don't count, not even a little bit. Edits are part of the writing process: for books, scripts, poems, text books, anything that's written.


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#124 khh

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 23:04

I almost wrote a reply in that Steam thread, but then I came to my senses and realised that I just didn't have the energy to spare for that kinda crap.
 

In my post I did say that I think RTG, and many game developers, make one common, serious mistake: not having a script nailed down before development begins. Most movie studios won't even consider making a movie until they have a finished script in hand. Game development and movie production are very similar. If Ragnar wrote his story, then broke it down into a finished script, before even 1 line of code was written, I think the cost to produce the game, and the time required to make it, would be much more predictable, and the targets would be more achievable.

No doubt there was a script before they started, and it was probably quite detailed and contained both scenes and dialogue. But then while the game was in production some thing worked unexpectedly well, some didn't, some characters just worked perfectly and got more screen time, while others didn't and got less screen time. And then scenes had to be rewritten based on what gameplay worked, and then the dialogue had to be rewritten to better fit the actor.

With movies they also shoot scenes they don't end up using, have multiple takes to choose from, and rewrites dialogue so it fits better and incorporate adlibs.

I don't think having a script planned out in full detail in advance and then sticking strictly to that would lead to a better game. Quite the opposite.
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#125 khh

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 23:06

Books??? How is that possible with books? BTW, edits don't count, not even a little bit. Edits are part of the writing process: for books, scripts, poems, text books, anything that's written.

What do you mean "edits don't count"? It's the exact same thing as this. You make edits before it's released and finished.
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#126 urzagc13

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 23:17

Or, to say it in other words: Ragnar's "I just wrote the ending" almost certainy means "I just finished (the final) editing (of) the ending".


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#127 agirlnamedbob

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 23:22

Maybe this is unfair of me, but it's really difficult for me not to get frustrated with the argument that some aspect of whatever creative project should be "100% nailed down" before X/Y/Z is even started. Like. It just makes me feel like they don't get how a lot of creative projects work. 

 

I mean. For starters, that's just not how some people work. Some people are planners and need to have detailed outlines. Some people work better when they're flying by the seat of their pants. 

 

But even if you're the sort of person who has to have every detail perfectly planned out before launching into the meat of creating, things will change. Things will be edited. Movie scripts get tweaked or edited during filming...or scenes get cut to change things up during editing. I just... ...if you feel like there's a way to avoid that without making yourself totally lose all enthusiasm for what you're doing (at which point why bother) then you've got something figured out that no creative person I know has been able to figure out. 

 

With things that need to be written/scripted especially. They change while you're writing them. They change again while you're editing. And editing isn't just about tweaking some grammar and phrasing. Sometimes it's about changing huge swaths of the story. Eliminating or adding entire subplots. Changing the ending. Deleting a huge chunk of the beginning. Etc. 

 

Also, we can be absolutely sure that Ragnar didn't just write the ending without ever having an ending in mind or previously written, because he's tweeted about editing/rewriting parts of the ending before and people got all pissed about it.


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#128 bongboy

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Posted 14 March 2016 - 23:39

That's exactly right. I couldn't have said it better, Erika.



#129 Ikon

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 01:11

What do you mean "edits don't count"? It's the exact same thing as this. You make edits before it's released and finished.

 

It is not in any, way, shape, or form the same thing. Writing a book and writing a script are 2 aspects of the same thing. You don't publish a book before it's finished being written. I'm saying you shouldn't develop a game before its script has finished being written. In both cases edits are part of the process or writing. That has always been the case. But, in both cases, I believe the writing should be complete before the next stage (publishing or development) begins.

 

Imagine telling a publisher that they have to reprint parts of a book because you've rewritten those parts, and perhaps doing that 2 or 3 times. Your writing career would be very short. In the same way, scripts for games should not be written or edited once development starts.


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#130 agirlnamedbob

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 01:46

I think you're perhaps drawing a false equivalent here, Ikon. Or... at least framing this differently than I think some of the rest of us are.

 

With this, I don't think it's the same as telling a publisher they need to reprint a book because you changed some things (though...like... "directors cuts" of books do happen and I we're already starting to see more and more work-in-progress online story systems, but I digress). It'd be more like the writers of a TV show deciding to make some tweaks to future episodes based on fan feedback or getting a better idea for how to handle something or deciding to write to some of the chemistry of the actors. Which happens all the time. 

 

Or a writer of a book or comic series making some tweaks to the story as they write it. Which again...happens all the time, particularly with projects that take a long time to complete. 

 

Now. ...Some of how to frame this is debatable because of the whole "Is this really an episodic game...?" argument, which I don't really want to drag back up. I kind of feel like we've beat that horse into a pulp. ...Also it may be hard to discuss without heading into spoiler territory, not to mention being way off topic for this thread. :P ;) 


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#131 Ikon

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 01:57

Maybe this is unfair of me, but it's really difficult for me not to get frustrated with the argument that some aspect of whatever creative project should be "100% nailed down" before X/Y/Z is even started. Like. It just makes me feel like they don't get how a lot of creative projects work.

 

I've been part of, and lead, a ton of projects over the decades, some of them creative, some technical, some both. One of the main reasons I'm saying what I'm saying now is that I've come to some understandings from all these projects. One of those understandings is that, virtually without exception, the projects that turned out the best were the ones that had the most complete planning. One thing for certain: the projects that won awards were ones that had the most complete planning and stuck to the plan.

 

I mean. For starters, that's just not how some people work. Some people are planners and need to have detailed outlines. Some people work better when they're flying by the seat of their pants.

 

I've heard this from people for more than 50 years. I have not found that it translates to better finished products. I've worked with creative people of both types. Early on, when creative types who planned everything would tell me that those who 'fly by the seat of their pants' were just being lazy I would argue that different people work differently. Most of them insisted that good discipline actually helps the creative process. I would politely disagree. As the years went on, however, I've come to believe they were right. On average, the finished product produced by 'disciplined' artists were better than the others.

 

I was confused by a couple of artists for a while. They were productive, and produced great products, but I didn't see any evidence of detailed plans, only a quick sketch here and there. This went against what I had seen over a number of years. I asked them about it and they both, basically, said the same thing: they did have detailed plans; it's just that those plans were in their heads. They told me not to be misled by the lack of things being written down; they had carefully thought out what they were going to do, they had a plan, and they were executing it.

 

But even if you're the sort of person who has to have every detail perfectly planned out before launching into the meat of creating, things will change. Things will be edited. Movie scripts get tweaked or edited during filming...or scenes get cut to change things up during editing. I just... ...if you feel like there's a way to avoid that without making yourself totally lose all enthusiasm for what you're doing (at which point why bother) then you've got something figured out that no creative person I know has been able to figure out.

 

Of course things will change. That's exactly why a detailed plan is needed, so that the unexpected can be accommodated most easily. It might seem counter intuitive, but having a detailed plan makes it easier to figure out what the unexpected means to a project, and that makes it easier to adapt the plan to the new reality. And, rather than dampen enthusiasm, it increases it, because the project doesn't get completely derailed by anomaly. Instead of everyone running around pulling their hair out saying, "what are we gonna do now?", the plan is adapted, people are informed, and things move on.

 

With things that need to be written/scripted especially. They change while you're writing them. They change again while you're editing. And editing isn't just about tweaking some grammar and phrasing. Sometimes it's about changing huge swaths of the story. Eliminating or adding entire subplots. Changing the ending. Deleting a huge chunk of the beginning. Etc.

 

Absolutely. That's the process of writing. But you don't publish the book until that process is complete. Some movies (heck, many movies) have gone through huge rewrites, multiple times, before primary shooting commences. Multiple writers, or even writing teams, have worked on the script for a movie, often times over many years. But all that happens before shooting begins. Sure, while a movie is being shot, some things may get tweaked, a character may get emphasized more, or less, but you don't normally see the kind of major rewriting you see during script development. Heck, Harrison Ford is kind of famous for ad-libbing one-liners during shooting. Robin Williams was perhaps the greatest master of the ad-lib. But these are very minor tweaks that don't really affect the script. You just blue pencil them in and move on.

 

Also, we can be absolutely sure that Ragnar didn't just write the ending without ever having an ending in mind or previously written, because he's tweeted about editing/rewriting parts of the ending before and people got all pissed about it.

 

I am not absolutely sure about that at all. When Ragnar tweets that he just finished writing the ending, to me that means he has not written it before. He may have the final ending in mind, in general terms (in fact I would be very concerned if he didn't) but I still read that statement to mean it's the first time the exact ending has been put to paper (or electronic document :) ). That makes me worry that there was never a complete script before development began and, in my experience, that is sub-optimal.


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#132 bongboy

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 02:06

And then there's Stanley Kubrick. He was a major planner and perfectionist. He sometimes shot as many as a hundred takes (or so the rumor goes), but when it came to a lot of Peter Sellers' work, especially his dialogue, he wrote a basic skeletal outline, explained the basic gist of what he wanted him to do and/or say, let him completely improvise and rarely shot more than one take, unless something went wrong, like when all the other actors couldn't help themselves from bursting out in laughter again and again at Peter Sellers' one-sided conversation as the president of the United States with the Soviet leader in "Dr. Strangelove". Kubrick was quite anal about making damned sure exactly what was going to happen in his films... except when it came to Peter Sellers' work. That's how much trust he had in him. So I guess what I'm saying is that a little bit of flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants works perfectly if the exact right conditions are met, and we never know what those conditions are or could be as outsiders trying to look in but for the most part not being able to see the creative process or know the creative people involved and how they interact with each other.

 

It's entirely possible that at some point a voice actor improvised something or someone else said something to him that caused Ragnar to change a little bit of the ending in a slight way, and that's all he meant. We don't really know if he had it all written down and he just meant that he wrote the final draft for the final time just now or if he wrote the entire ending down for the first time just now. In the end, it doesn't really matter one way or the other, if he has a good enough memory to have already known exactly what he wanted to write. Most of us would have to write it down to be able to remember it, but some people have crazy good memory skills, and he could be one of them. I just don't know.



#133 Ikon

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 02:08

It'd be more like the writers of a TV show deciding to make some tweaks to future episodes based on fan feedback or getting a better idea for how to handle something or deciding to write to some of the chemistry of the actors. Which happens all the time. 

 

Or a writer of a book or comic series making some tweaks to the story as they write it. Which again...happens all the time, particularly with projects that take a long time to complete.

 

Sure, but each future episode is its own script, dependent upon, but separate from, previous scripts. Shooting doesn't begin until the script is complete. Now, to be sure, especially with comedies, scripts include many multiple choice lines. The cast performs a scene with one punchline and, if the live audience reaction isn't strong enough, it's filmed again with another punchline. It's rinse and repeat until the producers are satisfied it's good enough (or they've run out of time :) ). But these scripts are deliberately developed that way.

 

The same basically applies to comic books. Each comic is its own 'book' if you like. Because it's part of a series, each comic necessarily depends on its predecessors. Each one is still complete before publishing.


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#134 Ikon

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 02:21

And then there's Stanley Kubrick. He was a major planner and perfectionist. He sometimes shot as many as a hundred takes (or so the rumor goes), but when it came to a lot of Peter Sellers' work, especially his dialogue, he wrote a basic skeletal outline, explained the basic gist of what he wanted him to do and/or say, let him completely improvise and rarely shot more than one take, unless something went wrong, like when all the other actors couldn't help themselves from bursting out in laughter again and again at Peter Sellers' one-sided conversation as the president of the United States with the Soviet leader in "Dr. Strangelove". Kubrick was quite anal about making damned sure exactly what was going to happen in his films... except when it came to Peter Sellers' work. That's how much trust he had in him. So I guess what I'm saying is that a little bit of flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants works perfectly if the exact right conditions are met, and we never know what those conditions are or could be as outsiders trying to look in but for the most part not being able to see the creative process or creative people involved.

 

Except it wasn't really seat-of-the-pants. Sellers was himself a perfectionist. He did not go into a shoot and wing it, not even a little bit. He knew, well before getting to the set, exactly what he was going to do. He was a very cerebral actor; thought very deeply about his parts; that's why Kubrick trusted him. Kubrick knew he only had to provide an outline because, let Peter know what he was going for, and he knew Peter would work out how to get that. I think Sellers' own statement that "he has no life outside his characters" says a lot about how much he thought about his characters.

 

For me, in many ways, Sellers was the opposite of Robin Williams. Sellers really thought about what he was going to do. Williams was extemporaneous. His mind worked so fast he basically did the research on the spot. In the Mork and Mindy scripts they would put "and Robin does something funny here" in the script, and Robin would do something funny there. In this case the completed scripts took into account the resource they were dealing with. "Oh, it's Robin Williams! In that case......" :D


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#135 agirlnamedbob

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 02:34

Sure, but each future episode is its own script, dependent upon, but separate from, previous scripts. Shooting doesn't begin until the script is complete. Now, to be sure, especially with comedies, scripts include many multiple choice lines. The cast performs a scene with one punchline and, if the live audience reaction isn't strong enough, it's filmed again with another punchline. It's rinse and repeat until the producers are satisfied it's good enough (or they've run out of time :) ). But these scripts are deliberately developed that way.

 

The same basically applies to comic books. Each comic is its own 'book' if you like. Because it's part of a series, each comic necessarily depends on its predecessors. Each one is still complete before publishing.

 

And this directly gets at my point of arguing about whether or not Chapters counts in this respect since it is episodic, but each part doesn't necessarily stand on its own. But it's still being released as and worked on as an episodic entity. With an episodic production schedule. Etc. And I would argue that the ability to tweak and change things as they go is more of a symptom of an episodic production schedule than an episodic narrative structure. 

 

I've heard this from people for more than 50 years. I have not found that it translates to better finished products. I've worked with creative people of both types. Early on, when creative types who planned everything would tell me that those who 'fly by the seat of their pants' were just being lazy I would argue that different people work differently. Most of them insisted that good discipline actually helps the creative process. I would politely disagree. As the years went on, however, I've come to believe they were right. On average, the finished product produced by 'disciplined' artists were better than the others.

 

I was confused by a couple of artists for a while. They were productive, and produced great products, but I didn't see any evidence of detailed plans, only a quick sketch here and there. This went against what I had seen over a number of years. I asked them about it and they both, basically, said the same thing: they did have detailed plans; it's just that those plans were in their heads. They told me not to be misled by the lack of things being written down; they had carefully thought out what they were going to do, they had a plan, and they were executing it.

 

That's your experience, though. A lot of well respected authors are self admitted "pants-ers." And honestly, in my experience, I've run into a lot of the opposite. I went to school for creative writing and so many people that I know get so bogged down in planning and planning and planning that they never actually start anything. Or if they do start, they can't finish because something with their plan isn't working out and they won't deviate from it. 

 

Also, I would argue that having everything planned out in your head is not the same as having it planned out on paper. I'm a very list-averse person. I plan things out in my head and then execute on them. I still consider that more flying by the seat of my pants. And if that "plan in my head" counts than why wouldn't all of the teams prior outlines and notes and plans and so such count as having the details nailed down in this case? 

 

I am not absolutely sure about that at all. When Ragnar tweets that he just finished writing the ending, to me that means he has not written it before. He may have the final ending in mind, in general terms (in fact I would be very concerned if he didn't) but I still read that statement to mean it's the first time the exact ending has been put to paper (or electronic document :) ). That makes me worry that there was never a complete script before development began and, in my experience, that is sub-optimal.

 

It's fine if you want to be not sure of that. But what I'm saying is that he's spoken about writing the ending before. Like a day or two after Book Two came out he said something about how he had rewritten the ending that morning...so to me that implies that even if maybe every single bit of dialogue wasn't written out, the structure of the story was at least down on paper. And he was tweeting back in December about how they were having final meetings to go over the story breakdown for Book Five and how only three people knew how it was going to end. So this is really nothing new here. 


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#136 bongboy

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 05:48

Except it wasn't really seat-of-the-pants. Sellers was himself a perfectionist. He did not go into a shoot and wing it, not even a little bit. He knew, well before getting to the set, exactly what he was going to do. He was a very cerebral actor; thought very deeply about his parts; that's why Kubrick trusted him. Kubrick knew he only had to provide an outline because, let Peter know what he was going for, and he knew Peter would work out how to get that. I think Sellers' own statement that "he has no life outside his characters" says a lot about how much he thought about his characters.

 

For me, in many ways, Sellers was the opposite of Robin Williams. Sellers really thought about what he was going to do. Williams was extemporaneous. His mind worked so fast he basically did the research on the spot. In the Mork and Mindy scripts they would put "and Robin does something funny here" in the script, and Robin would do something funny there. In this case the completed scripts took into account the resource they were dealing with. "Oh, it's Robin Williams! In that case......" :D

The scuttlebutt was that the laughing from the other members of the cast caused Kubrick to do six takes of that scene, and each time, Sellers did it a little differently. I seriously doubt he memorized each and every word to each and every variation on that conversation. Also, leaving up any part of your film to another perfectionist isn't being a perfectionist. Maybe this is the only exception to the rule of both of them being perfectionists, I don't know. All I know is that it was seat-of-your-pants style and it's also easily one of the funniest and most well-made scenes in cinematic history, and it shows that going about making something in this manner sometimes works better than it ever could have if you'd been a perfectionist about it. Having said that, probably my favorite people in film and television history are perfectionists. Stanley Kubrick, Peter Sellers and Vince Gilligan come to mind off the top of my head.

 

EDIT: Also, I just remembered that "Dr. Strangelove" was originally supposed to be a drama, but it took Kubrick so long to make it that while he was still shooting it, someone else released a similar film. Kubrick was afraid people would assume he was trying to mimick the other film, so he adapted it, during production, into a comedy. Also, Peter Sellers fell out of the cockpit during filming and broke his leg, so Kubrick hired someone to replace him in the role of the cowboy, and he figured he'd be best off casting the real thing so he hired Slim Pickins. That turned out great, as well, so I guess practically that entire movie is an example of a brilliant success that happened when perfectionists tried to make something, but they ended up having to make something different by the seat of their pants. I'm not saying this would always work, but in this case, I think it worked beautifully, and if everything had gone according to plan, I seriously doubt the film would have been as brilliant as it turned out to be.


Edited by bongboy, 15 March 2016 - 05:56.


#137 Vainamoinen

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 09:33

Reminder, Wile E. Coyote is always the guy who builds elaborate slippery slopes and ends up the butt of the joke. Heck, Arizona guy's avatar is well chosen.
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#138 Ikon

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Posted 15 March 2016 - 15:41

The scuttlebutt was that the laughing from the other members of the cast caused Kubrick to do six takes of that scene, and each time, Sellers did it a little differently. I seriously doubt he memorized each and every word to each and every variation on that conversation. Also, leaving up any part of your film to another perfectionist isn't being a perfectionist. Maybe this is the only exception to the rule of both of them being perfectionists, I don't know. All I know is that it was seat-of-your-pants style and it's also easily one of the funniest and most well-made scenes in cinematic history, and it shows that going about making something in this manner sometimes works better than it ever could have if you'd been a perfectionist about it. Having said that, probably my favorite people in film and television history are perfectionists. Stanley Kubrick, Peter Sellers and Vince Gilligan come to mind off the top of my head.

 

EDIT: Also, I just remembered that "Dr. Strangelove" was originally supposed to be a drama, but it took Kubrick so long to make it that while he was still shooting it, someone else released a similar film. Kubrick was afraid people would assume he was trying to mimick the other film, so he adapted it, during production, into a comedy. Also, Peter Sellers fell out of the cockpit during filming and broke his leg, so Kubrick hired someone to replace him in the role of the cowboy, and he figured he'd be best off casting the real thing so he hired Slim Pickins. That turned out great, as well, so I guess practically that entire movie is an example of a brilliant success that happened when perfectionists tried to make something, but they ended up having to make something different by the seat of their pants. I'm not saying this would always work, but in this case, I think it worked beautifully, and if everything had gone according to plan, I seriously doubt the film would have been as brilliant as it turned out to be.

 

I think you're under the misapprehension that perfection means it has to be identical every time. Not so. In other words, a little different can still be compatible with perfectionism. Now, having to completely revamp the film is a major deviation from 'the plan'. I'm not sure how all that shook out, but it most likely was somewhat chaotic. In any case, I don't think it's possible to know whether the film would have been better or worse. That's the problem with guessing the future; it's unknown. That's why I compared project outcomes rather than trying to speculate on different outcomes for a single project.

 

Now, I really do have to clarify one thing: I am not a perfectionist. I do believe in having a plan, but I don't like to nail down every tiny detail of a project beforehand. What I've wound up with, after decades of projects, is a system that basically follows the 80/20 rule. 80% of a project is nailed down in stone, particularly things like milestones. The remaining 20% is outlined, and an ideal path mostly detailed. However, that 20% is designed to be flexible, knowing that unexpected things will come up during the project. The key thing is that the major things are nailed down; things like milestones in particular. That's what seems to be missing from the DFC project: the milestones have been missed a number of times.

 

One other thing: I find hard core perfectionists annoying beyond belief. The real hard core perfectionists have their ideas and are not even willing to listen to alternate ideas. My favorite response to perfectionists is, "Remember, perfection is the enemy of good". IOW, the projects that turned out the best over the years were the ones that had a plan nailed down, but were still able to adapt quickly when needed.


If at first you don't succeed, do it like your mother told you.


#139 Vanya-illin

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 18:00

Except it wasn't really seat-of-the-pants. Sellers was himself a perfectionist. He did not go into a shoot and wing it, not even a little bit. He knew, well before getting to the set, exactly what he was going to do. He was a very cerebral actor; thought very deeply about his parts; that's why Kubrick trusted him. Kubrick knew he only had to provide an outline because, let Peter know what he was going for, and he knew Peter would work out how to get that. I think Sellers' own statement that "he has no life outside his characters" says a lot about how much he thought about his characters.

I was just reminded of the time Peter Sellers guest starred on The Muppet Show: "But you see, my dear Kermit, there is no real 'me', I do not exist. Oh, there used to be a 'me'... but I had it surgically removed."



#140 Ikon

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Posted 16 March 2016 - 18:59

I think I recall that episode. Obviously, I didn't watch Sesame Street myself, but I watched it by proxy through my kids. They were a little old for it in the late 70s but still liked to watch from time to time.


If at first you don't succeed, do it like your mother told you.





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