Beware the insidious… False Loop

Let’s start with an image. Not a bad way to begin a screenplay, either…

False Loop

Hmmm. That doesn’t look like I thought it would. Sorry if you have to do extra work to see my little drawing.

Anyway… For some reason, before I so happily blew town, all the screenplay critiques I did before I left, included this problem. The False Loop. A big fat waste of time / pages.

I have seen this a lot, and finally have given it a name. Once I saw it in three scripts in a row, I decided it needed a name and some real explaino.

The writer hangs himself up by having a moment, which in my fantastic illustration, is called “A.” Clever. It pushes the story forward to “B” where stuff happens… then it goes around and comes back to part “C” which is, sadly, right after “A.” That’s what kills you.

The stuff in “B” doesn’t need to be there at all. I’m trying very hard to remember an example from one of the scripts I critiqued, but I’m too brain fried after a 12 hour drive back from our Nation’s Capitol. Brain dead and I’m trying to help you out… anyway…

There’s sure one in APOCALYPSE NOW… One of the finest examples of a false loop, ever. Clean gets killed in the attack on the boat. Very sad. They go into fog. They come out of the fog. That’s “A” and “C”. The false loop comes in the REDUX version, where they have “A”: enter fog… “B”: French Plantation Sequence which DOES NOTHING TO MOVE THE PLOT FORWARD and then, back to “C”: exit fog…

False loop.

If you find that in your work, you wander off on a tangent with cool stuff that doesn’t do anything to move the story forward, and come back after it to basically the same place you were, then you’re in FalseLoopLand and it’s not a happy place to be.

Of course, the nice thing is that when you excise the False Loop, you made your script shorter. Which seems to be a constant theme of these here pages.

Hope you’re well.
Sorry we didn’t get to have a brewski on my vacation.
Vacation’s great.
Glad to be back though.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Beware the insidious… False Loop

  1. JBC

    Good advice Dr A. Welcome back.

    I completely agree with you re Redux. Its full of useless B reel like that. All of it could have been put into the “extra stuff” part of the DVD release without ruining the film.

    The original Apocalypse Now is one of my favorite films. Redux was like some amateur got into the vault and started editing things together. Its as if daVinci painted a really bad version of the Mona Lisa years later and said “oh wait, this is the look I was really shooting for.”

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