NOTE: The following contains spoilers for the one of the popular stop-motion animation films of all-time. If you do not wish to be spoiled, please go back to Christmastown and lay down for a long winter's nap.
THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS RC3 NETWORK NOTES - 3pm EST
Hello! We appreciate all of your hard work on getting the last cut back to us in an almost-timely manner. The show is slowly taking shape, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us. The big problem we have right now is focus. We visit Halloweentown and Christmastown and yet we barely know either place! How are they connected? What are the political structures? Can our viewers go visit for some fun shopping? If Jack is the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown, why is there a Mayor? (Is there an order of succession?) There a lot of questions we have and in reality TV, we leave people in suspense, not with questions! A bite pass is absolutely necessary. Once this happens, we can send time coded notes. But not until then.
"THIS IS HALLOWEEN"
Halloweentown is kinda cool, in a Hot Topic sort of way. Are there any other shots of the town with more color? This is the start of the show and we need to grab the audience right from the first frame! Comb through your footage and find some drone b-roll overhead of the town during the day so the audience will fall in love with it right away. The lyric track is working pretty well, so let's go for a win with some great juicy b-roll! (Make sure it's free; we aren't paying for it.)
We are seeing A LOT of monsters as we go through the town and I can't tell them apart! Let's extend the VO to explain who these creatures are and why we should care about them. We need to spell things out for the audience as much as possible. That's storytelling!
It takes almost 4 1/2 minutes for Jack to be introduced? NO no no NO. As he's being carted in, let's do a big intro package from him like "Hi, I'm Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloweentown. I'm in charge of making sure that the big scary holiday known as 'Halloween' is s scary as possible." (Please get this verbatim) While it can be inferred from the sound-ups of the townspeople that Jack does all this, we can't assume that the audience will pick up on that. That's for scripted. This is reality!
Per legal, please add a disclaimer that no one should set themselves on fire and dive into a dirty well to become Jack Skellington.
We just introduce Sally by her lurking in the background and then she loses an arm to get away from her abusive boyfriend. That would be great stuff... if there was a bite to go along with it! Ugh, you guys, come on. Whoever edited this should be fired and replaced. (Get someone cheaper.) Yes, it seems like Sally doesn't like her boyfriend but if she doesn't tell me in a bite that this guy is bad news, then how am I to know? HOW AM I TO KNOW? Please get her saying something like "My name is Sally. Evil Scientist made in his lab as his companion but I'd rather be out in the world and meet Jack Skellington!" (Make sure you get this in her own words)
Jack is going on and on about how he feels stuck and wants to try something else. It's beautiful and gorgeously shot. Since we're long, let's condense this to a bite and make it a podbuster.
On a side note, we've been in Halloweentown for over 10 minutes and we haven't learned a single Halloween decorating tip! People, if we are doing holidays here then we have to give the audience some take-away information! Comb through your footage and see if you can add something new. Does Jack teach a vampire how to make a great tasty punch for a Halloween party? Does Sally show the Evil Scientist how to make ghost decorations using tissue paper, a marker and some fishing line? Let's set ourselves up for success here! We can't let Food Network corner the market on all of this.
Jack is obviously intrigued by the door to Christmas Town. But I don't know why! Bites, bites, bites! Get a bite from him along the lines of "Wow, this door is very pretty. I've never seen colors like this before. I wonder where this goes." The more we explicate, the more the audience stays put!
Add a lower third that says "Christmas Town" when Jack arrives there. We can't risk any confusion.
Christmas Town is quaint and cute; it reminds me of what I imagine the Midwest looks like! Jack's enthusiasm is infectious, but after a couple minutes of him saying "What's this", we better get to an explanation pretty quickly. We can leave the audience in suspense over a commercial break, just not in a scene.
Per legal, please add a disclaimer saying we do not advocate drugging someone's food to escape capture, even if you're being help captive by an Evil Scientist. After that Gordon Ramsay debacle, we can't afford another lawsuit.
Do a chyron pass on the monsters in the town meeting. I'm having trouble telling all the ghouls apart.
Jack is being very obvious explaining the different Christmas items to the Halloween townspeople. He's over-explaining, actually. This is great. No notes on this.
Per legal, please add a disclaimer that people should not jump out of a five-story tower to escape an evil scientist, even if they are made of straw and leaves. This isn't American Ninja Warrior.
Let's get a big intro package for Lock, Shock and Barrel. Let's get into their backstory and put in some snazzy b-roll. As our resident villains, they should be totally eye-catching. Like Kenya from Real Housewives of Atlanta, but not as scary.
The montage of the townsfolk making their Christmas presents is decently cut but it needs another pass. First, let's change up the music. It's been minor key orchestral for so long. How about a different lyric track? A "Despacito" sound-alike would work wonders here. Let's discuss. Also, after each present is made, add a cymbal scrape. That way the audience will know to look up from their phones and pay attention!
SANDY CLAWS GETS KIDNAPPED
Once we arrive in Christmas Town, let's again add a "Christmas Town" lower third. Then, once we get into Santa's house, add a "Santa Claus - Jolly Old Elf" chyron. Don't assume that all of our viewers know who he is. What if they just switched over to the show at this point? How will they know what the story is? We can't let people get lost now!
Per legal, please add a disclaimer saying that no one should kidnap the patron saint of the biggest holiday of the year. (The only one who's qualified for that is Wall Street)
When Santa falls into Oogie Boogie's lair, let's give Oogie a big intro package. He's the Big Bad in here. Think of Camilla from The Challenge or Omarosa from The Apprentice, just not as scary.
JACK TRIES TO DO CHRISTMAS
As Jack is dropping off presents, let's pepper in some bites from Jack about how happy he is to be finally fulfilling his dream of doing something different. We set it up song before; we have to follow through in bite now. That's Storytelling 101!
Once Jack saves Santa Claus from Oogie Boogie, add a bite from Santa Claus about how relieved he is to be saved from certain death. (And if he can work in a mention to Target too, that would help with our production integration requirements for the quarter. Make it natural!)
Please turn around the cut with notes responses by 5pm EST. Thanks a bunch!