NOTE: The following contains spoilers for one of the most beloved and revered American films of all time. If you do not wish to be spoiled, please move on. But I would avoid that one toll road, if I were you.
THE GODFATHER 101 FINE CUT 3 NETWORK NOTES
Hello! Thanks for turning around our previous round of notes so quickly. While we’ve made some progress, we are still a long long, long way off. The cut is still way too fat (we could cut this half and still have too much time) and there are some elements we requested that aren’t in yet. Where are the bites we asked for? Right now, the cut is just too lugubrious and slow. Please fire whatever hack editors were on before and bring in a new staff. (I could recommend some editors from VANDERPUMP RULES or MAMA JUNE - they could add some zip this mess!) We are missing so many opportunities for comedy here. Also, there are too many characters. Let’s talk about trimming some time and cut to the chase. They’re mobsters, this should feel fun, and not like homework! (What are we, PBS?)
Once these general notes are addressed, we will send you time coded notes. But right now, there’s just too much work to do! It’s time for us to start ideating and thinking outside the box! (One trick I find useful: I write down the title of each scene on a card and put them all on the wall in order. That way, we can see the whole show in front of us and figure out the structure! If you need help with this, my assistant can talk you through it. He’s great and gave some of these notes!)
Also, we just watched 102 and we are confused by it. If there are scenes that take place before 101, why aren’t they in 101? Let’s get on the phone later on today and talk this out. So confused!
Please do a subtitle pass on Don Corleone. Five cuts in, I still can’t understand a thing he says.
This music, really? Are we really starting the show with this… slow, turgid score? We have to set the tone very quickly. Right now, this tone says “TAKE A NAP!” when it should say “HEY-O, FUN TIME TO BE HAD!” Let’s do a complete music pass — think hip hop, urban, and maybe some pop? Think less John Williams and more Post Malone. Let’s discuss!
General note: we need to lighten up this whole show in the online. It’s currently way too dark. We don’t do moody lighting in reality TV; the audience will get confused and think they’re watching Leah Remini taking down Scientology. Let’s brighten things up!
We go from the logo to a guy just talking? Whoa whoa whoa, I’m so confused. Where are we? What’s happening? Let’s start off with a nice b-roll transition in with a lyric cue that establishes where we are and the mood. We have to set the stage as elementary as possible — that’s Storytelling 101!
This guy telling the Godfather the story about his daughter has the potential to be touching… if we had any idea who he was! Hello, we need some bites in here! Let’s intro this guy with a bite like “Hello, I’m so-and-so, and I really love this country. My daughter has been roughed up by a bunch of guys and I really need some help! I do hope the Godfather — who is the most powerful person in my New York neighborhood — will help me out. If he doesn’t, then I won’t know what to do!” (Please get this in his own words but as close to verbatim as possible).
Oh, we finally see our title character! I can barely understand him and on top of that, we have no context on who he is. You know what would settle that? A BITE. Good Christ, you guys, this is sloppy to the nth degree. Have him say something along the lines like “Hi! I’m Don Corleone. I run a big mob family in New York. I was born with next to nothing and I worked my way up to one of the most powerful people in town. People love to come to me with their problems and I’m willing to help… as long as I’m respected. If i’m not, then there will be problems!” (Get this verbatim)
When Corleone says they’re not murders, can he expound on that? Legal wants to make sure we aren’t getting into anything dicey. Thanks!
Okay, this scene goes on and on and on. What is this, in real time? We’re seeing a lot of dancing and not a lot of movement on the story. Let’s restructure this scene. Have some dancing, intro Sonny and Tom (with big intro bites for both) and let’s lose the wedding photo bit. Then when Michael finally shows up, give him a big intro package explaining his war history and bites from other family members as to why his father is so fond of him. If we don’t set this up, then the audience will be confused. How are we supposed to know who he is? By picking up context cues and by merely people talking to each other? That’s what scripted is for!
When Michael explains what a consigliere, this is a great opportunity for an infographic to come up and give the audience some takeaway info. The audience is craving such things and our studies show that our key demographic loves mafia trivia. Let’s give them what they want!
Make sure we can clear Johnny Fontaine’s song. If not, please use a sound-alike.
Please blur the horse’s head in Woltz’s bed. According to our records, it never signed a release.
CORLEONE GETTING SHOT
Fredo’s father gets shot and Fredo just freezes? He doesn’t say anything? Is there another take where Corleone gets shot that Fredo actually says something? If not, you know what would be helpful? A BITE. Man, you all are disappointing me. Have him say something like “I was so stunned by my dad getting shot, I didn’t know what to do!” Sure we can infer that from Fredo’s action, but unless he says it explicitly, how am I supposed to know? HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO KNOW?
Wait, why did the Turk have Corleone shot? Oh right, Corleone turned down his offer to get in on his heroin trafficking. What would really help here is a flashback! Telling the audience exactly everything that’s going on at all times is the height of storytelling! (I learned that a great seminar in ‘99 at CSUN!)
When Clemenza says “Luca Brasi is sleeping with the fishes”, do we have any footage of that? If we say it and don’t see it, then the audience will get confused. Also, sleeping with fish can be either smelly or dangerous. Let’s put in a disclaimer at the beginning of the show that only professionals should try slumbering with sea animals. We can’t afford another lawsuit.
Please add a pick up scene where Clemenza talks about why he likes pastries over firearms. Otherwise his line “leave the gun, take the cannoli” doesn’t have the proper context.
MICHAEL’S MEETING WITH SOLLOZZO
This scene just sits there until Michael starts shooting people (which we don’t endorse on this network, by the way. Let’s add that to the disclaimer at the beginning). It plays completely dry and there are no bites about Michael’s state of mind during this scene. Is he angry? Scared? Frustrated? Let’s throw in some bites from him about the situation, a bite or two from Sollozzo about what he wants from Michael and one from the crooked cop about the veal. (Again, take away for the audience!) Oh, and don’t make the scene feel bite heavy.
MICHAEL IN ITALY
This whole section is pretty… dull. We need to lose a lot of time. Let’s cut it and make it a web extra. We can cover Michael’s wedding in a bite.
SONNY AT THE TOLL BOOTH
Sonny getting shot up on the causeway is a harrowing, scary scene… but he wasn’t wearing a seat belt. Any way we can use an effect in online to add one? We want to make sure we are being responsible.
THE DON’S DEATH
Corleone’s passing is touching and tragic, but he does so while he’s playing around with oranges, which could go against our product placement contract with the California Orange Growers Association. Please double check and make sure we aren’t putting that in jeopardy.
There is a lot of things happening in the Christening, a lot of cross cutting. Let’s do a lower third pass on all of the people who get whacked so we can follow what’s going on. Spelling things out is storytelling at its finest!
MICHAEL AND KAY FIGHT
When Michael tells Kay not to ask about his business, can we throw in a flashback to show what his business is? If someone were to tune in right at this point, they would be confused and get lost really easily. Remember Rule #14 in our Network Style Guide: Flashbacks are our friends!
Please turn around the cut to us (with notes responses) by noon tomorrow EST. Thanks!