NOTE: The following contains lots of spoilers for one of the buzziest current Oscar nominees. If you do not wish to be spoiled, please go see this movie and then come back. Either way, avoid getting a sub-prime loan. Seriously.
THE BIG SHORT RC4 NETWORK NOTES
Hello! Big thanks to you and your team for all of your hard work on the cuts so far. Unfortunately, we are too far off from being on the right track. The clever illustrations of the different investment vehicles is part of the out of the box thinking we really need, but the show right now is too dark and depressing for our brand. Can we recut this to show the banks in a better light? By focusing so much on how the banks screwed over the American people denies us the opportunity to tell a layered story. Do we have any interviews with anyone who liked what Lehman Brothers did? Let's dig through our footage to find more positive bites about the financial industry. Otherwise we're doing ourselves and especially the audience a disservice by not telling the richest story possible (pun not intended). We were envisioning the show to be more Undercover Boss than Frontline. Are there any heartwarming hugs at the end between the CEO's of the banks and the guy whose family is now homeless? Take a look.
Also, you guys are giving us a lot of information. Mortgage back securities, CBO's, strippers with five homes... that's a LOT for our target demographic to digest. Remember, the bulk of our audience watches our network as a secondary viewer. If we can't give them all of the story beats in small soundbites that they can process while doing the dishes and not looking at the screen, then we aren't doing our jobs. Let's do a clarity pass through the whole show to make sure we are telling the cleanest story possible.
We will need another rough cut before we can go on. Once this is done -- with a VERY NECESSARY bite pass -- then we can give time coded notes.
COLD OPEN - THE 70S
The narration is great and the 70's reenactment scenes are well done, but we really need a bite in here explaining what a mortgage backed security is. Sure, the large guy in the glasses tells the other people in scene what it is but we need to hammer this home with a good solid -- funny? -- bite. Remember: repetition is storytelling!
Let's replace a good chunk of Dr. Burry's backstory with the following bite: "Hi! I'm Dr. Burry. I'm an MD who is brilliant at math and investing. I lost my eye to a childhood illness and now wear a glass one. I'm rather skeptical of the mortgage market and I'm going to investigate it further." Please get this verbatim. Let's think less of a scene where people interact and more of a fun intro package.
Like with the Dr. Burry section, let's make an intro package out of Baum's introduction. Give him a solid intro bite, his background and a hint about his brother's suicide. Sure, the scene we have right now greatly establishes his character by him crashing into a group therapy session and unknowingly hijacking it but we can't assume the audience is as clever as we are. Remember, spelling things out equals S-U-C-C-E-S-S!
Make the Mark rabbi flashback a web extra.
MARGOT ROBBIE EXPLAINING SUB-PRIME LOANS
Having a hot famous woman in a bubble bath is a highly creative way of explaining an esoteric topic like sub-prime mortgages. Is it possible to use this as a permanent interview location for all of our shows? Also, can we add some some GFX to help explain this? It would really help our numbers.
Per legal, make sure that all the instances of "Shit" and "Fuck" are bleeped. Are there any other takes where she doesn't swear?
DR. BURRY BUYING THE SWAPS
Dr. Burry explains to the bankers at Goldman Sachs about buying the mortgage swaps and I am lost. Can we add in a flashback here where he explains this again? That would really help the scene a lot. Also, after Dr. Burry leaves, let's cut out before we see the bankers laughing at him. I don't think Goldman Sachs would appreciate their trade out being used in this way. Besides, it's just too mean. Remember, our network motto is "Wow-Wow with a smile!"
Can we get a Ludacris sound-alike for the buying montage? Maybe use someone more family friendly? Let's take a look.
JARED'S MEETING WITH FRONT POINT
We are meeting Baum's team at Front Point way too quickly. Let's give each of them an intro bite AND lower thirds as well. In fact, every time we see them in a scene from this point forward, let's add a lower third to them. There are a lot of moderately-good looking white men in dark suits in this show and I want to make sure the audience can tell them all apart.
Jared says a lot of bad things about Deustche Bank. Are there any other takes where he says nice things about the bank? Right now this is coming across as more "blood-boiling" and not as "heart-warming" as we would like.
Using Anthony Bourdain in interview to explain CDO's is very clever. Does he explain anything else? Our research shows that our audience really responds to famous people making food. Double check your footage: if he can explain golden parachutes while making orange chicken, that would make a great web extra.
DANNY AND PORTER AND THE MIAMI HOUSING DEVELOPMENT
This scene with Danny and Porter checking out the mostly-empty housing development is rather effective. However, we should add a set up from the guys saying what they are looking for at the development and then a closing bite from them about how they desolate the place was. If they aren't telling us how they are feeling at all times, how can I know how they are feeling? HOW CAN I KNOW?
MARK MEETS WITH THE MORTGAGE BROKERS
Man, those mortgage brokers are such douche bags! Any possible way we can play this scene for more comedy? Play around with the audio design. I think adding a record scratch after one of them says he sells to strippers would be hilarious! Be creative.
MARK AT STANDARDS & POORS
There is a lot of information and numbers floating all around this scene. You can't expect our audience to all have done so well in math; we aren't PBS! If you are assuming that the audience is paying attention, then yes they can follow the math pretty easily, especially this is is the crux of the fraud that helped bring down the entire US economy. But you can't assume that; this is reality, not scripted! If you insist on keeping this scene were the woman from Standards & Poors admits to falsely increasing the ratings on sub-prime mortgages and bonds, then you need to add a lot of bites in order to explain it. Do that and add an amazing comedy pass. If not, then we'll make it a snap-in. People in Australia may be able to follow this; I know that working moms in Kansas City won't.
Please make sure that each of the attendees of the convention have signed a release.
When Mark interrupts the presentation, can we get some bites and reaction OTFs from some of the audience members? That would help add context to Mark's worries about the sub-prime mortgages.
Selena Gomez explaining a synthetic CDO is pretty great, but she doesn't sing and I find that distracting. Does she sing at all? Our audience will expect her to sing. Let's do a pick up of her singing an Adele sound-alike. My boss and his kids would love that!
MARK TALKING TO HIS WIFE ABOUT HIS BROTHER'S SUICIDE
Oh dear Lord, who edited this scene, a drunk 18 year old on crack? It's so jumpy and disjointed. There are no bites at all. How can you have such an emotional scene without a pick up bite? Yes, the jumbled editing style represents Mark's frayed emotional state talking about his brother but that is just way too artsy for us. Please completely reedit this scene and make it more straight forward. We are leading the audience through the story by the hand; if we aren't pulling them through a fast pace, they become bored and will change the channel. And we definitely don't want that!
Per legal, make sure that Jared says "I'm jacked to the [BLEEP]."
During the Barry/Mark debate about Bear Stearns, please add a continuing graphic showing Bear Stearns' stock price going down. Make it really fun and playful; if the audience thinks too much about this, it will depress them. If the GFX is bright and colorful, they'll smile. Maybe we can make a happy Bear graphic and then a sad Bear graphic? Let's play around with this. Remember, we're storytellers!
Do we have a material release from Red Bull for the giant tower of cans that are in Lehman Brothers' empty office? If not, please blur all the logos.
I suggest we end the show before Jared's VO goes into how no one of consequence was put in jail for tanking the US economy. Man, that's just too depressing! Let's end on more of an upbeat note. Get creative and call me with some ideas. I can't wait to see what you come up with!
Please get me a new cut by the end of the day with notes responses. Thanks!