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Great Psycho Scenes: Full Metal Jacket: Private Pyle Suicides
May 26th, 2015 by paul peditto


I’ve done a few of these Top 10 psycho scenes for Script Gods. Most of them, notably the Fargo wood chipper scene and Barton Fink’s Madman Mundt’s finale, or the American Psycho “Ever listen to Hughie Lewis And The News?” Paul Owen scene–are FULLY creatures of each director’s blackly comedic imagination. They are great because of the offset of the gore with humor.

Here, with this bathroom scene from Full Metal Jacket, the Kubric POV is on display (and with The Shining and this, who does better work inside bathrooms than Kubrick?) Would you call this black comedy? Probably not.

Full-metal-Jacket-Private-PyleThe set up was black enough…that jelly doughnut scene was brutal. Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) has pushed Private Pyle (Vincent D’Onfrio) to the breaking point. He’s getting towel beatings from the other marines, getting driven down on rifle drills, day after day waking up to utter hell.

FullMetalJacketDeluxeEdition_85391186274_1He wasn’t a psycho when the sequence started.  He actually smiled as Ermey started his beatdown. That changed with the doughnut and ended with Graduation night in the latrines.

Here’s the script, the full scene is below. Notice how the POV is with Private Joker. He is the witness, the audience’s POV…


The platoon sleeps. JOKER walks slowly down the
squad bay with a flashlight.
Our last night on the island. I draw fire watch.

JOKER hears a muffled sound. He isn’t sure where
it comes from. He slowly enters the latrine.
Running his flashlight across the room JOKER Sees
PYLE sitting on a
toilet, loading a magazine for
his M-14 rifle.

PYLE looks up at JOKER and smiles. It is a frightening smile.

PYLE (strange voice)
Hi, Joker.

JOKER stares at PYLE for a few

Are those … live rounds?

Seven-six-two millimeter, full metal jacket.

PYLE smiles grotesquely.


Leonard .. . if Hartman comes in here and
catches us, we’ll both be in a world of shit.

I am .. . in a world . . . of shit!

PYLE gets to his feet, snaps his rifle to port arms,
and starts executing the Manual ofArms.

Left shoulder … hut! Right shoulder …
hut! Lock
and load! Order … hut!

PYLE picks up the loaded magazine, inserts it
into the rifle and smartly brings the rifle down to the
order arms position.

This is my rifle!
There are many like it, but
this one is mine.

FullmetalJacketOh yeah, he’s gone. Section 8 and a half! Working off two drafts here–check out the description of Private Pyle in this moment–

“His eyes,
his manner are those of a wanderer who has found
his home. He is a man in complete control of
himself and of the world he lives in. His face is
cold and beautiful as the dark side surfaces. He

Poetry, is it not? Then Hartman wakes and rolls in. Again, look at the detail, the description is screenwriting poetry:


“Sergeant — looks at Leonard and nods.
He sighs. Gunnery Sergeant — looks more
than a little ridiculous in his pure white
skivvies and red rubber flip-flop shower shoes and
hairy legs and tattooed forearms and a beer gut
and a face the color of raw beef, and, on his
bald head, the green and brown Smokey the Bear
campaign cover.”

HARTMAN bursts from his room, wearing his skivvies and D.I. hat.

My rifle is my best friend! It is my life!
Get back in your bunks!


I must master it as I must master my life!
Without me …


HARTMAN Storms into the latrine.


What is this Mickey Mouse shit? What in the
name of Jesus H. Christ are you animals
doing in my head?
(to JOKER)
Why is Private Pyle out of his bunk after
lights out?! Why is Private Pyle holding that
weapon? Why aren’t you stomping Private
Pyle’s guts out?

Sir, it is the private’s duty to inform
the Senior Drill Instructor that Private Pyie has a
full magazine and has locked and loaded, sir!

HARTMAN and PYLE look at each other. PYLE Smiles
from the depths of his own hell.

HARTMAN focuses all of his considerable powers of
intimidation, into his best John-Wayne-on-Suribachi voice.

Now you listen to me, Private Pyle, and you
listen good. I want that weapon, and I want it
now! You will place that rifle on the deck at
your feet and step back away from it.

With a twisted smile on his face PYLE points his
rifle at HARTMAN.

HARTMAN look suddenly calm.
What is your major malfunction, numbnuts?!!
Didn’t Mommy and Daddy show you enough
attention when you were a child?!!!

The round hits HARTMAN in the chest.

He falls back dead.
JOKER and PYLE stand looking at the body.

full-metal-jacket4Then PYLE looks at JOKER and slowly raises his rifle.

Easy, Leonard. Go easy, man.

PYLE breathes heavily, and keeps the
rifle aimed at JOKER.

JOKER is scared shitless.

PYLE looks at JOKER for several seconds and slowly
lowers the rifle. Then he stumbles back a few steps
and sits down, heavily on the toilet.

PYLE turns away from JOKER and stares into space,
a strangely peaceful look transforming his face.

He places the muzzle of the rifle in his mouth.


PYLE pulls the trigger and blows the back of
head over the white tiled wall behind him.

May 17th, 2015 by paul peditto

Hey folks, let me introduce you to Devolve. This is a web series I became involved with last summer and helped shoot in late January, 2015. I know, EVERYONE is making a web series! It’s a crowded landscape and the last thing you need is ANOTHER “How-To” article on how YOU TOO can join the tens of thousands now making a web series! That’s not the endeavor here.

So why should you care about this web series?

From Day 1 at SCRIPT GODS I’ve talked about proactivity. About not letting the bastards tell you no. Who are the bastards? They’re the folks manning the front gate of the Hollywood Hotel—that gated community of cosmococcic beauty. It’s the agent’s assistant at Jagoff Productions who sent you a form rejection to the query letter you spent a week writing; or the rejection from the Script Pipedream screenwriting contest without a single reason given (should have paid extra for reader notes!), the promise of “industry connections”, and don’t forget to send that $40 check with the script. It’s the bored “boutique” agency Junior rep yawning at your Pitchfest pitch no matter how many hours you practice; or bullshit producers pushing for free rewrites; or screenwriting consultants with fabulous websites and non-existent IMBD profiles who make promises, taking your hope and time and $$$$$$$$ without getting you one centimeter closer to actually getting your movie MADE. It’s the L.A. thang.

It’s time to get your movie made. How do you go about doing that without contacts or an agent or lots of money?

You stir the pot. You make something else. You put it out there and pray that you have even an ounce of talent.

You spend low money and make a web series. You try to find 30,000 subscribers or more and monetize the thing to the best of your ability. The cliched “going viral” takes a hell of a lot of work but so what? You’re making something. You’re not waiting any more. You’re done with that. You’re fucking taking it–NOW.

So, I’ll be giving you a ground up look at what it took to make this happen. The time table for release is still in flux, but I’m guessing Summer, 2015. When it’s ready, you’ll be the first to know.

Meanwhile, here’s how we put it together.

Maybe you’ll do the same.


IMG_0099About a year ago in March I gave a seminar at Chicago Filmmakers called the Screenwriting Sampler. This was a marathon, five-hour session. The lectures can be at Screenwriting University and other places. So, at that lecture was Dan Arthurs. Dan is a Chicago guy who braved ten below winds to listen to–Christ help him–five hours of me talking about screenwriting. Something must have clicked because within the month I heard from him and his partner, David Schwartz. Dan was writing a web series called Devolve. They wanted me involved. Write–direct–produce. And they could actually pay me a little something. Well, bless my mercenary soul, attention achieved!

 Dan was wrapping up the first draft, which would consist of several episodes. The page count was still being defined but the price on this was set. While I won’t get into producer specifics, let’s just say the goal was to keep the project under $10,000 total. Without a locked script it was hard to get a firm grasp on what it would cost, so we concentrated on nailing the script down.  IMG_0009The original story was this: A group of Right-wing twenty-somethings stumble upon a Stoner God and decide to document him changing a man into an Ape (thus, Devolving him). Things go wrong and our Stoner God turns him not into an ape, but Rick Perry. Complications ensue.

This was in May and the script was a work in progress. I met with the guys in New York. I loved the idea of the Stoner God but wanted to move away from the politics (short shelf life, hard to pull off) and wanted to move it toward our twenty-somethings being just out of Film School. The early draft was also set in a verdant field, placing God under a sort of Malick-esque Tree Of Life. I remind the guys that this was already May. Shooting in Chicago (as was the plan) we had until end of October to reasonably ask a crew to spend 12 hours outdoors. David wondered about alternatives and yes, even though Pixar warns about never taking the first solution, the first thing that came to my mind was an arboretum. God could squat in a greenhouse. The guys liked it. If we couldn’t nail down the script and pre-production in time, we could go the arboretum route, shooting it into November or early December if necessary.


IMG_0115The pressures of Columbia classes changed the dynamic come the summer months. I realized pretty quickly I would have to delegate some of my producer duties. It was a no-brainer to ask my Chat producing partner Boris Wexler to come in on this. #1, Boris is 20X the producer I’ll ever be. Good Reader, if you learn anything from this article, learn to delegate responsibility well. Boris would be lead producer, would find us a Line Producer, draw up the Scheduling and Budgeting documents essential for production. Oh, and one other thing. Fred Miller, ace DP who shot Chat, would come in at a discount. Boris pitched Fred who said sure, why not. Fred would bring the camera package and make a few calls for G&E crew. Things were starting to come together.

But the script was still a question mark. Dan and I passed the script back and forth trying to find a solution. Where did the politics fit in if they were going to be film students? What story were we trying to tell? IMG_0021And could we tell the story with the number of days and budget we had? We moved from a third draft to a fourth. We were into August now and the October shoot date was looking unlikely. Then, I had an idea.

I had a friend, Lizz Leiser, a short-form comedy writer working with her crew at Serious Theater Collective in New York. Maybe she could take the script to a better place. Here’s another life lesson, Good Reader: Collaboration can be a bitch. It’s how you react that counts. No panic here. Get the script to Lizz, let’s see what she can do with it.



 Obviously, by this time we had abandoned the Tree Of Life setting for God. Also the arboretum idea went by the wayside with calls to the handful of local Chicago places. Nobody was going to let a pack of 20 micro-budget web series TYPES take over their lush gardens for a 12 hour shoot. So, now what? Our simply astounding Line Producer, Jacquelyn Jamjoon, suggested her work warehouse space. It was vacant weekends and could be played as God’s lair, spooky empty. Set up a couple fake palm trees and some lounge chairs, God smoking from his WW2 gas mask–sounds good! Boris had a better idea though. He knew from previous shoots that Reggie’s Rock Club was micro-budget friendly. A quick call, a friendly price quoted, and we had our space.

The beauty of Reggies? IMG_0025It had an upstairs bar that could double for the bar scenes. If you’re producing a web series on the cheap, try to limit company moves. Now with Reggies, we wouldn’t have to move, everything could be shot there. Now, what about that script?

We had reached the point of no return. We had already abandoned the pre-Christmas production dates. If we didn’t nail down the script soon, it would be impossible even to shoot in January.

Lizz and her writing partner, Ricardo Delgado, sent back their first draft in early October. General rejoicing commenced! David and Dan loved her new take on the material. Lizz and Ricardo immediately took over the writing duties, polishing the first draft into a second and third. Meanwhile Jacquelyn and I got to work on casting. Through Breakdown Express we had well over 100 actors apply for the 7 roles. Because the script was still in flux it was unclear if we were going SAG or Non-SAG. Our goal was to just find the best actors possible. Dan joined us to help shoot the auditions and we put up the auditions on Vimeo for Boris and David to see. The beauty of working in Chicago on a comedy web series is the obscene amount of actors who rolled in with Improv training. We were literally up to our necks in funny people! The narrowing down of call backs would soon follow.


IMG_0049I had already given up my producer duties to Boris on budgeting and scheduling matters, and to Line Producer Jacquelyn J. on the day to day stuff. New teaching responsibilities now made it clear right I wouldn’t be able to follow up with my Director responsibilities either. What did I say was the key, Good Reader? Correct—knowing good people and delegating well! If I couldn’t see this through, who did I know in town who could? A handful of killer directing candidates were at the ready through Columbia College. I made a few calls and found out to our very great fortune that John Mossman was available. John is not just a long-time teacher at Columbia, he runs his own theater company (The Artistic Home) and is an actor himself! Always the fatal drawback for me, I never acted so it was hard to empathize with the acting process. I’m more sympathetic these days but in years past I’d gladly, like Samuel Beckett, just put my actors in urns, face them forward and direct them to READ MY FUCKING LINES! Nope, not really the guy you want trying to help people be funny. Dan and Dave interviewed Mossman and before I could say get in the fucking urn and read my fucking lines!–John Mossman became the director of Devolve. I was the only one at this point to know what an upgrade that was.

Devolve was going to happen!


Script Magazine Series, Part 2
May 12th, 2015 by paul peditto

script_logoOK, let’s go back to the archives and check out some more gems–nuggets–tidbits–from the Script Magazine files. This is meant as a taste, a sampler of articles you might have missed. Thanks to Jeanne Bowerman, my editor at Script Mag, for compiling these. If you want to see the contributors’ blogs, go here. The website is found here. Vamos!



I like Doug Richardson’s voice. He breaks me up with the truth. In my days with William Morris I took meetings at a reasonably high level, but if you wanna know the “behind the lines” sound of Hollywood, go no further than this guy. The full article is here. And a taste:

“Countless times I’ve been in meetings or on phone calls where producers or agents are making promises or assertions about the next step in the process.

“This is exactly what Alfonso Cuaron is looking for,” an agent might say. “I just had a signing dinner with him and this pretty much describes what he wants to do. I’ll send it right over to him.”

Translation? Maybe the producer knows the director. Maybe he even had dinner with him. Or maybe he was at a dinner attended by the director. Or perhaps in the same restaurant where the director was dining. The fact is, whatever this meeting or the resulting memo was, the agency made a big signing and is throwing every resource it has at the director in hopes to please its newest big-time client. That means every script, cast member, and notion for potential revenue is at their disposal. So it’s of veritable importance that despite the bona fide or bullshit representations of my agent, I needed to know where I was in the food chain and the process of my screenplay would undergo finding its laborious way to Alfonso’s reading pile. Otherwise, I might walk away from the meeting actually imagining my agent personally emailing my script directly to the director’s bedside iPad with a subject line that says: DROP EVERYTHING AND READ THIS NOW!”



This is the story that drives 8000+ specs scripts to the Nicholl Fellowship. This is why tens of thousands of scripts are registered every year with the Writer’s Guild. Spec script, new writer, Studio purchase. And Peditto said it never happens!

I’m an ex-craps dealer, so sue me, I think in terms of probabilities. The LIKELIHOOD is…this will never happen to you. Lottery winner. What’s that like? What did he do to make it happen?

Thanks to my editor Jeanne Bowerman for this interview of Eric Keonig, writer of Matriarch, which was just purchased by Paramount.

Good Reader, prove me wrong… Go and do likewise!



Think tomato soup. The Warhol can. A product. Campbell’s could choose to sell that product as a single can on the shelf stocked back to infinity. Or… it could create Cream of Mushroom. Cream of Chicken. Chicken Noodles… same product, soup, but a different take on each. This is an oversimplified explanation of Transmedia. Think about how many different ways Star Trek has been sold to us, how many different variations of TV and film re-incarnation–but always Star Trek. How about something a little more offbeat? Look at Green Day’s American Idiot–starting out as the album, last year moving onto Broadway as a play, not to mention the documentary film following Billy Joe Armstrong’s journey from punk rocker to Broadway impresario. Same product, different incarnations. That’s Transmedia.

Now, if you want a REAL explanation on why it seems like every new show on Broadway was a movie first….check out this thoughtful article by Tyler Weaver on Transmedia And Writing Exposition. Here’s a taste: “”Transmedia storytelling is, at this point, in a continuing state of definitional flux and while this is a detriment to most discussion and analysis of it, it’s a wonderful thing for creative people; it’s the mythical blank slate. It is what you make it.”



This great article by Clive Davies-Frayne dares to speak that which is never spoken on screenwriting blogs– what would happen if you didn’t need to write a script to make a movie? Sounds like blasphemy, until you realize that what he’s talking about isn’t without precedent:

As I said, working without a script isn’t a new process in the film world. Directors like Mike Leigh have been “working out” scenes with their actors, without a formal script, for years. Filmmakers like Drake Doremus, Grand Jury Prize winner at the 2011 Sundance Festival, are building good careers using similar techniques. These directors are able to work without a formal script, simply because they understand how to work creatively with actors. What’s also clear, is people who make films this way, have a deep and intimate knowledge of storytelling. They’re not just “making it up as they go along.” They have a plan, a story and, in many respects, a deeper understanding of their characters, and the craft of storytelling, than most screenwriters.

The idea that you can build a movie based on a beat sheet, character backstories and knowledge of how to work with actors, is only one script-free route to creating a movie. The other route is a pure cinema methodology. By pure cinema, I mean it is possible to see a film as nothing more than a series of images; images that create a story through the juxtaposition of concepts. The film is just a series of visual moments; visual moments that can be organised using nothing more than a storyboard. This kind of filmmaking requires a completely different view of the filmmaking process, than is normal or acceptable for most screenwriters. To work like this, the film’s creator has to think more like an editor than a writer.  It’s the kind of filmmaking that owes its origins to the work of filmmakers like Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov.

The question is, if it’s possible to make great films without a formal script, which it is, what can screenwriters learn from these approaches?”


Best Monologues
May 5th, 2015 by paul peditto

Thinking about a monologue for your script? Wondering if it’s too much?

Writing for the visual medium of film, you have to be half-crazy and really good, along with having a riverboat gambler’s mentality, to pull this off. That monologue you’re writing is going to take multiple screen minutes. How are you planning to visualize it?

I was going to do a Top 10 monologues, but there are too many great ones. We’ll do a few posts on this subject. I’ve gotten through A to O on the Drew’s Script-O-Rama list and am working outward in search of the constant variety of screenwriting Sport. Let’s look at how the pros handle it and imitate where we can. Vamos..


So your plan is to not just write a monologue but open the movie with it? What are production company–agency–screenwriting contest readers giving spec scripts these days, 5 pages? You’re basically laying down an all or nothing Red/Black roulette bet opening with a monologue. Unless you’re Woody Allen, and just kill it…


Abrupt medium close-up of Alvy Singer doing a comedy monologue. He
wearing a crumbled sports jacket and tieless shirt; the background is stark.

There’s an old joke. Uh, two elderly
women are at a Catskills mountain
resort, and one of ‘em says: “Boy, the
food at this place is really terrible.”
The other one says, “Yeah, I know, and
such … small portions.” Well, that’s
essentially how I feel about life. Full
of loneliness and misery and suffering
and unhappiness, and it’s all over much
too quickly. The-the other important
joke for me is one that’s, uh, usually
attributed to Groucho Marx, but I think
it appears originally in Freud’s wit and
its relation to the unconscious. And it
goes like this-I’m paraphrasing: Uh …
“I would never wanna belong to any club
that would have someone like me for a
member.” That’s the key joke of my adult
life in terms of my relationships with
women. Tsch, you know, lately the
strangest things have been going
through my mind, ’cause I turned forty,
tsch, and I guess I’m going through a
life crisis or something, I don’t know.
I, uh … and I’m not worried about aging.
I’m not one o’ those characters, you know.
Although I’m balding slightly on top, that’s
about the worst you can say about me. I,
uh, I think I’m gonna get better as I get
older, you know? I think I’m gonna be the-
the balding virile type, you know, as
opposed to say the, uh, distinguished
gray, for instance, you know? ‘Less I’m
neither o’ those two. Unless I’m one o’
those guys with saliva dribbling out of
his mouth who wanders into a cafeteria
with a shopping bag screaming about
Annie and I broke up and I-I still can’t
get my mind around that. You know, I-I
keep sifting the pieces of the relationship
through my mind and-and examining my life
and tryin’ to figure out where did the
screw-up come, you know, and a year ago we
were… tsch, in love. You know, and-and-and
… And it’s funny, I’m not-I’m not a
morose type. I’m not a depressive character.
I-I-I, uh,
you know, I was a reasonably happy kid,
I guess. I was brought up in Brooklyn
during World War II.

Read the rest of this entry »

Best Screenwriting Links 3: No Film School
Apr 27th, 2015 by paul peditto

nofilm3Onward with our Best Screenwriting Links series. It occurred to me looking over my archives that among the dozens of amazing websites out there giving away knowledge for free–check the Links page at for about two hundred of them– among these are a handful of ridiculously strong sites that could be featured in and of themselves. No Film School is at the top of the list, and if you haven’t been there, well, to quote Gomer Pyle, “Shame, shame, shame!” Here’s a sampling of articles that might help you in your Quixote quest to slay your own filmmaking and screenwriting windmills in this year of our Lord 2015.


koo-nofilmschool-logo  You’re moving toward the production phase of a micro-budget feature or short. How do you whip up the production documents you need without paying for expensive software? Here’s a free alternative, called Casper. From the NFS article: “Production reports, call sheets, time logs, and schedules are a very necessary aspect of a shoot’s organization. On smaller productions with a limited crew, you may be responsible for producing these documents yourself. Thanks to a developer called ThinkCrew, you now have access to a tool that makes creating these production docs that much easier. It’s called Casper, and it’s a totally free set of templates for Microsoft Office Excel designed for production management. Dynamic scripting under the hood means Casper automates the process for you, filling in relevant data across multiple documents as you input it. Read on to check out Casper, plus some videos breaking down this useful toolset.”



koo-nofilmschool-logo   Yes, I admit it, I’ve never explored the grant route. Why is that? Well, I probably didn’t know where to look. When it comes time to finance my films, the notion of making a total spectacle of myself before friends, family, and potential investors dancing with my tin cup in hand BEGGING FOR MONEY is somehow more appealing. Or maybe it just struck me as the only way to do it. Knowledge is power– Maybe I’ll put away my Bojangles dance shoes next time and try to make money via the grant route, using this list compiled by No Film School. You should consider it too. Grants from February through June can be found here. Summer/Fall grants can be found here.


koo-nofilmschool-logo The internet is crammed with “list” posts— XYZ # of rules GUARANTEED to help you in your impossible dream. Virtually all are bullshit. This one appealed to me. Compiled by V Renee, it’s kinda out there, unconventional advice. How can’t you love bullet-point #5: “DO THINGS THAT EMBARRASS YOURSELF”– “This is probably one of my favorite things to do to help my creativity — and it’s simple. The title says it all. If you’re stuck on a scene — it’s not flowing well and the dialog feels contrived, then I suggest sitting in your bathtub for a while. Perhaps you should wear wigs and costumes when you’re stumped. I do interpretive dance (ironically,) practice my draw with toy revolvers, sing songs from HMS Pinafore and The Mikado (do I love comic operas or what?) — anything that jump starts my brain creatively is alright by me — even becoming El Espadachín while I write in my office (as demonstrated below.)

What all of these silly things do, at least for me, is cut any ties I have to my ego, pride, or shred of coolness I might’ve onee had, and allows me to approach my writing without the added pressure of writing “a great screenplay.” Plus, it’s fun.”

How many of you would pay cash money for a video me of me doing interpretive dance wearing a Gilbert and Sullivan wig? Hey, make me an offer!


koo-nofilmschool-logo  Lastly, from the No Film School, this advice from the great John August website. Joining No Film School on the short list is this essential storehouse of screenwriting acumen by the guy who wrote Big Fish, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Frankenweenie, and many others. He just gives it away on his site, NOT grousing for consultancies, NOT looking to make a dime on you. There’s enough of interest on the John August site to keep a screenwriting nerd like myself bunked up for a month. I liked this infographic article on something common to all screenplays– How you actually go about writing a scene. How do you prepare? What is common to all great scenes? Here’s knowledge from a pro, a guy in the arena. For the article, go here.


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