NOTE: The following contains spoilers for one of the most beloved musicals of all-time. If you do not wish to be spoiled, please climb every mountain you can to avoid one of the highest grossing films ever.
THE SOUND OF MUSIC FINE CUT 4 NETWORK NOTES
Hello hello hello. Thanks for addressing our previous set of notes. As per our conference call, we still have a long way to go before we have the show ready for air. The biggest problem we have right now is focus. What works for us at our network are sweet relatable shows about families with a lot of children. But we've never had one where all the kids can sing together! What a hook! We need to focus on that and dump all of the nun stuff. (All of the stuff at the beginning with Maria at the convent really feel like a different show. Maybe cut and repurpose it for something else? The Real House Nuns of Salzburg does have a great ring to it. Or maybe SuperNunny? Let's discuss) Here we have seven adorable, camera-friendly children who can sing harmony without scaring off advertisers. It's like 19 Kids and Counting without the David Koresh cult vibe. There's gold to be had here; all we have to do is mine for it!
Also the storytelling is just not strong enough. Whoever edited this should consider a career in hotel/motel management. Story is key! We are severely lacking in bites and b-roll transitions; a chyron pass is absolutely needed. (Can you tell the difference between Gretl and Marta on sight? Yeah, me neither.) You guys are making a lot of assumptions about what our audience knows. We need to make sure that this is as streamlined and easy-to-consume as possible. The less taxing the show is for the audience, the higher our ratings! Once these are addressed, we can send time coded notes. Won't happen until then.
PS. Are we married to this title? It's too generic. Let's go with "Von Trapped." It's fun and based on the focus group we did in suburban Annapolis, it'll go over very well.
THE HILLS ARE ALIVE
While we all appreciate all of the drone footage of the Austrian mountainside, we have a whole scene with Maria and no one else. What does this have to do with 7 brothers and singers who can harmonize? Every scene has to have TENSION AND STAKES AT ALL TIMES. What are the stakes of a woman with poor fashion sense twirling around in the grass? Guys, if we aren't aiming high in every scene, then the audience will lose interest and go back to YouTube. We need a stronger start; keep the b-roll, cut to Maria's arrival at the Von Trapp household with an intro bite like "My name is Maria. I'm a nun here in Salzburg, Austria and I've come to be the new governess for Captain Von Trapp and his children. I'm nervous that I won't do a good job. Hopefully I won't be fired." (Please get this verbatim)
For proper context, we really need a strong bite that sets up World War II. You can't assume that the audience will know what that is.
As previously mentioned, this whole section can be removed. We have 6 nuns we've never met (without a lower third on any of them) talking about a woman who all we saw doing was just spinning on a mountain. "How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria?" Make it a snap-in.
MARIA ARRIVES AT THE VON TRAPP HOUSEHOLD
When the Captain catches Maria dancing in the closed-down ballroom, she seems startled and then walks out. I say "seems startled" because there isn't a bite there telling me how she feels! Guys, this is just so sloppy. Come on. Let's get a bite in there about how she felt about being caught, a bite from her beforehand to explain why she would go into the closed ballroom to begin with, an intro bite from the Captain so we know who he is, and a bite from Maria saying how intimidating the Captain is. And make sure this all flows and doesn't seem too bite-heavy.
The Captain says that Maria is the 12th governess they've had. Do we have footage of the other governesses? A montage of the former governesses trying to deal with the children could be fun and unusual way for us to meet the kids and set up the stakes. Let's think outside of the box, people!
When the Captain makes the children introduce themselves, this is a fantastic opportunity for a big juicy intro package. As each child steps forward, throw in some bio bites for each one so the audience can easily differentiate one from the other. The faster the audience can do this, the faster we can start having great hashtags all over social media. There are a lot of shows with litters of kids; we need to do what we can to stand out! Let's set their characters like this:
LIESL - The Flirt
FRIEDRICH - The Know-It-All
LOUISA - The Sarcastic One
KURT - The Goody Two-Shoes
BRIGITTA - The Bookworm
MARTA - The Cute One
GRETL - The Sweet One
Make sure that all bites and sound-ups from the kids reflect these singular character traits AT ALL TIMES. If we show some different personality quirks, the audience will easily be confused. We only have 42 minutes to convey each story; let's make every second count!
When Maria says that she's never been a governess before, let's get a couple of bites in from the kids saying how they can't wait to try to test their new governess. That way we know that they are fun and mischievous (in a relatable, family-friendly way, of course). As Maria produces the frog from her pocket, add in a cymbal scrape then a wood block. That way the audience will know that this is funny!
We have a nice scene between Liesl and Rolf with the dancing and the kissing, but since I don't have any context for it, I'm just so confused! It's really obvious, guys. Let's get a fun flirty bite from Liesl about how much she likes Rolf, how long they've known each other and why she likes him so. Oh, and let's make sure we do a proper background check on everyone Liesl may date. Otherwise it's Josh Dugger all over again.
As Maria is singing about her favorite things, let's do a montage of images to go along with what she says. We can't assume that the audience knows what she's talking about. Just because we know what brown paper packages tied up with strings are, the audience may not. The more we spell things out, the stronger our storytelling is!
THE VON TRAPPS GO AROUND SALZBURG
As the kids are learning how to sing, let's get bites from all of them as the scene progresses. Are some of them nervous before they start singing? Are they worried about what their father will think? We need some stakes and conflict there. Do Re Mi doesn't really denote tension. Let's maximize our footage the best way possible!
THE CAPTAIN RETURNS WITH MAX AND THE BARONESS
Again, again, again: BITES BITES BITES! We need bites to establish both Max and the Baroness. Does she look forward to marrying the Captain? Is the Captain looking forward to spending more time with Baroness? Why does Max need to find another music group to manage? These are obvious questions and you guys totally dropped the ball here. Get these bites in here pronto and this dull driving scene will sing!
Speaking of singing, the first time we hear the kids sing is when they are way, WAY off camera as the Captain is arguing with Maria. How is this good producing? Again, this is the problem we're having. Currently, the focus is on Maria; it needs to be on the children! Let's start with the kids singing for the Baroness ON CAMERA. And that's where the focus needs to be! Get some bites from the Baroness about the singing kids, from the Captain about why he's so touched by the kids singing and how he's sorry for his behavior towards Maria. Our rule of thumb is: when it doubt, Bite it out!
THE LONELY GOAT HERD
Is there another take without the creepy puppets? If not, we may need to issue a trigger warning.
MARIA RETURNS TO THE ABBEY
Wait, why is Maria going to the convent? Oh right, she used to live there. I completely forgot! Let's throw in a flashback of her living there so we can set this up right. We don't want the audience to be confused!
Per legal, make sure the Mother Superior says "What is it you [BLEEP] face?"
Maria's and the Captain's wedding is beautiful and lush, but I can't help but think about those fun kids. Are there any unused scenes where the kids make mischief all over the house? Any funny turns of phrase from Gretl or Marta? Any scenes with the boys goofing around? Let's comb through our footage and construct some extra scenes where the kids are front and center. Our audience wants to see a large gaggle of children wreaking adorable chaos. Let's give them what they want!
THE SINGING CONTEST
Are there any other takes of the concert without the Third Reich? Despite what our former market research told us, recent polling shows that our audience is actually turned off by Nazi groups. (We were surprised too). Let's recut the contest, show the Von Trapp's winning and then end on a big bite from the kids about their nascent musical careers. Cut out the escape into Switzerland and the family fighting for their lives; it's just too depressing and it's completely off-brand for our network. That may work on A&E, but not here!
Please finish these notes and send the cut with notes responses by 4:30pm EST today. Thanks a bunch!