Friday, November 11, 2011

Commissioner Jim Gordon - Home Sweet Home - Grant McLaughlin

A classic 3 by 3 grid.

1 – Night time / very early morning. A kitchen. The light is off, but you can still get a pretty good idea of what's there. From left to right you can see part of a fridge, a doorway into the kitchen, a phone on the wall after the doorway, a kitchen table with some chairs, and a window that looks onto a driveway. This shot is going to be fixed throughout all of the panels, with the actors in the setting being the only movement.

The movement for the first panel is that a car is driving into the driveway. Its headlights are on and are quite bright in the gloom (perhaps sending some light and shadow into the kitchen).

2 – The car is now parked, with part of it still visible through the window. James Gordon is through the front door and coming into the kitchen. His posture is tired. Maybe he's slouching a little. One hand is flicking on the kitchen light while the other is leaving his jacket on a chair back.

3 – James is sitting at the table, pouring himself a drink. Maybe some scotch or whatever hard alcohol you think he'd prefer.

4 – His drink poured, James takes a moment to pause, reflect, and try to decompress.

5 – Before he can make any progress on those fronts, the phone rings. James turns his head towards the interruption.

6 – James has the phone to his ear, listening to the person on the other end. Neutral expression.

7 – The phone hung up, James rubs his eyes in a futile attempt to wake up.

8 – James is back on his feet, reaching for his jacket, and heading out the door.

9 – The kitchen is once again empty. The light is out. The drink sits on the table, untouched. James' car is out of the driveway and pulling away.


  1. Grant - I LOVE this script. They way you have written it is simple and easy to read and follow. As such, they life of Gordon is easily on display. One of your best mate.

  2. My only criticism of this page is the lack of SFX. There should have been a CLICK of the light-switch and a RING of the telephone. It's easy to forget about these things when doing a dialogue-free scene, but the page would look odd without them. Other than that, it was a nice fly-on-the-wall piece.

  3. Thanks for the positive commentary, guys! Glad to see that this one is resonating with others as much as it did with me.

    @Danial - I might have to disagree with you on this one. Not including SFX was a conscious choice on my part - I actually had an earlier draft that had some sound / visual effects to denote the phone ringing, but I ultimately decided against it. I felt that the page would read better without any sound, leaving it to the images do the talking.

  4. So I'm curious then, in panel 5, how would the reader know the phone is ringing? Without the SFX, it'll just look like Gordon is turning his head. Even if he is looking directly at the phone, with the next panel being him talking on it, the reader might assume he has made a call, rather than received one.

  5. Hmm. Point taken. What about putting in some visual lines to represent the phone ringing?

    Perhaps I'm being unnecessarily beholden to my original idea. I suppose having a small "bringring" in the middle panel wouldn't have an enormous impact on the overall mood...

    Alternatively, him making a call and then leaving would result in a completely different meaning to the page, and while that is admittedly not what I was intending, it could be just as interesting.

    I just don't know what to think about this one.

  6. Grant - atmospheric page. Brilliant. Such a simple slice of life and yet the decision to show it in 9 panels decompressed it perfectly. I'd also leave it silent. If a reader can't tell that him looking at a phone is it ringing after seeing him speaking into it in the next panel then screw them. And maybe they could think it was him deciding to call someone but then that just makes him look like he realised his duty was still important and so yields a very similar effect, overall.

  7. Another excellent page, well-delivered despite the quibbles mentioned above. Gordon is, as Ryan suspected, bringing out the best this week.

  8. I'm with Ryan on leaving out SFX. With the established atmosphere, just having the phone look like it's vibrating would make the page much stronger.

    I feel sorry for Gordon, though. When does the poor man ever get time for himself and his family?


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