NOTE: The following contains spoilers for one of the most iconic films ever made. If you don't wish to be spoiled, please go back now. But do leave the Bates Motel a positive review on Yelp.
PSYCHO FINE CUT 2 NETWORK NOTES
Hello! Big thanks to your team for all of their hard work. It hasn't gone unnoticed. You guys like Sprinkles? Well, once this locks, we'll get you all some fancy cupcakes. But based on this cut, that won't happen for a while. We have a couple big problems right now. First of all, as a network that's all about adventure and going to far-off locations and quirky destinations, we spend a lot of time at the Bates Motel and we don't know anything about it! How can we feature a hotel and not talk about its amazing amenities? Is there a spa? A Michelin star chef? Sure, there's a serial killer, but is there a chocolate fountain? Let's see if we can tone down on the mass murder and play up on the fun locale! Secondly, our legal department really dropped the ball by focusing on a main character who commits fraud from her company. Maybe we do reshoots with a new customer at the Bates Motel who isn't on the run from the law? The more we keep Marion on screen, the larger disclaimer we'll need to run at the beginning of every act. If we do that, we'll come across like that Leah Remini show (except our subject matter is less scary, am I right?) Also, we desperately need a bites pass! Once that happens, we can give time coded notes. Until then, please do the following and we can discuss. Thirdly, something is wrong with the color correction. The cut was in black and white. Please address.
Great use of lower thirds saying "Phoenix, Arizona" and the time and day. We wish more shows would do that. It's a great way of letting the audience know where the show is taking place. If we confuse 'em, we lose 'em! Marion and Sam have some great chemistry, but it is just aching for a great intro package. Kick it off with a bite like "Hi, I'm Marion Crane. I work for a real estate company in Phoenix. My boyfriend Sam comes to town infrequently, and he's dealing with a lot of money problems. I wish there was some way I could help him!" [Please get this in her own words.]
When the oil tycoon gives Marion the $40,000 for his daughter's new house, please get a bite from Marion like "Wow, this is a lot of money. That could really help a lot of people, even by my boyfriend Sam!" If we don't lay the groundwork now for what Marion does with the money, the audience will be taken by surprise by what happens later. The more obvious we make things, the better it is. That's Story Telling At It's Finest. (That's also a new motto we're test marketing. Did very well in Duluth!)
Wait a minute, we never see Marion say "I'm going to steal the money, get out of town and give it to Sam?"!?! Wrong wrong WRONG. This is just so sloppy! Ugh, guys, we've been over this. We have to hear from Marion make the decision to steal the money and why she's doing it! Get a bite from here that says "I'm taking the money and running out of town so I can give it to my boyfriend Sam so we can get married and start our new lives together." If she doesn't explain it, the audience will get confused as to what's happening. And if they do that, they'll switch over to BIG BANG THEORY. And no one wants that. Get the bite and ADR it in if you have to.
Per legal, let's put in a disclaimer saying it's wrong to steal $40,000 from your boss. If we don't, we're just asking for a lawsuit.
HIGHWAY OUT OF TOWN
Can we think about doing a music pass as well? We've been hearing a lot of orchestral cues. Let's vary it up. Maybe a Dua Lipa soundalike? Or some dub step. Scour your music libraries for something that sounds like Top 40 and get creative!
As Marion is trying to trade out her car for a new one, add a cymbal scrape every time to turns to look at the cop across the street. That will help add to the tension. (That and a bite from here that says "I'm so nervous right now. Every time I look over at the cop across the street, I feel more tense!")
Whoa, I'm so confused! Marion is driving, not saying anything, but we are hearing dialogue of her boss and co-worker asking about where she is and what happened to her? Is there a problem with the cut? Oh wait! She's imagining this conversation. Ohhhhh. Yeah, that's not clear. Either cut back to her office and show her boss and co-worker talking or don't show them at all. This is just too confusing, you guys. That's a no-no.
No notes on the Dodge Motors production integration.
ARRIVING AT BATES MOTEL
27 minutes go by and we're finally at the Bates Motel? Too long, guys. Way too long. Also, where is this? Somewhere in California, I know, but a lower third would be really helpful. Also, this is the hotel we're featuring? If this is the place we are focusing on, then we should really think outside the box here: makeover! We can take this dilapidated old motel and make it something chic and fun and hipster-friendly. Considering the condition of this place, the only blonde screaming in here should be Gordon Ramsey wondering why the French Onion soup isn't rustic. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
When Marion meets Norman, we should get an intro bite from Norman. In reality television, we like to give the impression of mysterious but not actually be mysterious. And that goes the same with our main characters. Have Norman say something like "Hi, my name is Norman Bates. I run the Bates Motel out here in the middle of nowhere. Even though I'm shy, deep down I'm a people person and family means a lot to me."
Please make sure we have a material release for all of the taxidermy in Norman's office.
As Norman goes on and on about his mother, Marion seems to be getting more and more uncomfortable with the conversation. I say "seems" because unless we have a bite from here telling us how she feels, we'll never know for sure. Put in a bite from her saying how uncomfortable this conversation is making her. Otherwise, how are we to know? If we aren't telling the audience how to feel at all times, then we are falling down on the job. And no one is falling around here!
MARION IS MURDERED
Wait, why is Marion working on a math problem? Oh right, she stole $40,000 and used some of it to pay for a new car. I completely forgot. Let's throw in a flashback of her stealing the money and then buying the car and then add a bite from her explaining all of that. That way anyone who came in to the show at the commercial break will be all caught up. Sure, they don't do that in scripted but hey, we're reality - it's what we do!
Let's get a bite from Marion as she's being stabbed. We really need to know her state of mind at this critical point.
We don't need this full sequence of Norman cleaning up the bathroom after the murder. Let's cut it and make it a snap-in.
ARBOGAST LOOKS FOR MARION
Why does this Sam guy look familiar? Oh right, he's Marion's boyfriend! I completely forgot. Let's throw in a flashback from earlier to remind the audience who he is and why he's there. Don't assume that they'll remember something from 45 minutes before. This is reality TV, not GAME OF THRONES!
Arbogast does introduce himself to Sam and Lila in the hardware store so we don't need a full intro package from him. Let's definitely lower third him as well. Does he have a fun Twitter handle? If so, add that to it. If not, his Snapchat should be fine. We need to show our audience that our cast members are big on social media. Getting the right buzz on social media is murder (poor choice of words)
SAM AND LILA LOOK FOR MARION
Sam and Lila recount every plot point to the Sheriff and his wife. Excellent producing! No notes for this scene.
As Lila and Sam drive over to the Motel and Lila tells Sam of her plan that they'll pose as husband and wife, add a cymbal scrape to her sound up. That'll drive this point home. Remember, we use music and sound design to enhance and elevate scenes. Let's use both of these to tell the best story possible!
Is there an unused funny scene we can add before Lila and Sam arrive at Bates Motel?\ Things have been so tense for so long. Let's give the audience a break with something goofy and fun. Comb your footage and let's discuss!
When Lila goes up into the Bates' home, let's get a bite from her where she talks about how anxious she is to find her sister. I know she mentioned that in the previous scene with Sam, but let's hear it from her as well. The more we hear from our characters, the more we can care for them and relate to them and then our audience gives us the ratings we need!
When Norman Bates' mother is revealed, let's add the lower third so the audience knows for sure. Remember, making things very obvious is the height of storytelling.
FINAL SCENE AT THE COURTHOUSE
The psychologist over-explains what happened with Norman. It's obvious and very pedantic. We love it. Don't change a thing.
Please do these notes by 5:30EST today. Thanks!