The Editing Room: 20 Years, 20 Questions

Few websites have been around as long as The Editing Room, and yet, much of its inner workings remain shrouded in mystery. However, in honour of its 20th anniversary season, this enigmatic collective of alchemist-scribes have agreed to pull back the curtain, ever so slightly, to shed a glimmer of light on this most singular fascination that adorns the Internet. Join us now, gentle reader, as we look back on the past 20 years, over the course of 20 questions.

1. Can you freakin’ believe this site has been around for TWENTY YEARS?!?!? That’s longer than Google!!

Rod: It’s insane to me that this site still exists and still gets a decent amount of traffic, particularly on the increasingly video-driven internet. Long-form writing seems dead and yet the site is better and more popular than ever, thanks in no small part to the regular updates from all of our great authors.

Chris W: Google? I use Bing. Kidding! Bing is obviously a fictional search engine.

Craig: I have drinking-age nephews who didn’t exist when this site first went up! Granted that’s because I live in a country with a drinking age that makes sense, but still.

Jess M: Crazy, right?! So where's our multi-million-dollar campus with nap pods, ROD?

Raquel: I was actually quite surprised to learn this, mostly because I had always pictured everyone here as being so much younger than me! Now I know that some of you aren't. Or at least Rod isn't (unless he was in middle school when he founded this site, in which case I'm duly impressed).

Kam: That’s nuts! But unlike Google, I’d say that the site has consistently put out great content over the years. I mean, seriously, Google Glass?!


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2. How did you first discover The Editing Room?

Alex W: Back around Ought-Zero, Entertainment Weekly magazine mentioned Rod’s Phantom Menace script as a Cool Thing on the Internet, because back then we still needed print magazines to tell us what was on the Internet. So I found the site and it was like MAD Magazine satires I’d read as a kid, but way better, and with lots of swears. I was hooked.

Steph M: My stoner roommate told me about it around 2009/2010. He mentioned the script of the Dark Knight, and as soon as I read the line “HEATH kills the BUS DRIVER, puts a smoke grenade in WILLIAM FICHTNER'S mouth for no reason, then drives out of the building into a conveniently placed gap in a line of SCHOOLBUSES” I knew I loved this site.

Lachlan: I saw Rod’s script for Hancock on Cracked.com and I burst out laughing at his description of Hancock “destroying the car, the building, and the special effects team's weekend plans.”

Joannes: I don't remember how I came across it specifically, but I know I exhausted its entire archive during my first desk job. It was boring as hell with a lot of downtime, and the site looked enough like generic plaintext from a distance that I could read all the scripts and still keep up the appearance that I was working.

Alex L.: In 2005-ish, at Heathrow Airport, I bought a Total Film magazine out of Total Boredom. I stumbled across the Abridged Script for Van Helsing in the bottom corner of one of the pages, and got a sensible chuckle out of it. Once I got landed, and got some Internet access, I checked out the site, and have been hooked ever since.

Craig: Like a lot of people, I was put onto The Editing Room by Cracked. Scrolling through various clickbait listicles like “6 Adorable Household Pets (Which Can Kill You)” and “5 Times the Course of History Was Changed by Inopportune Erections”, I stumbled across an article simply called “If Juno Was 10 Times Shorter and a 100 Times More Honest”. I read it, loved it, and was thrilled to find out that there was a whole website full of these things.


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3. What made you want to be an author for TER?

Rod: I saw Godzilla and was just thinking on the whole ride back home about alternative scenes, like what it would look like if the movie were aware of how shitty it was. I had no video production skills but I was familiar with screenplay writing, so I decided to write a fake script for the movie. I put it online and attached a web counter to the page - to my surprise it seemed like people were actually stumbling upon the script and reading it (this was before Google Analytics or comments). So I wrote one for Armageddon which I equally hated and that got visitors too. I kept writing them and eventually collected them all into a single place and that’s how The Editing Room was born.

Ian S: Ravenous hatred for Alien 3.

Steph M: In 2014 I moved out to LA for a job in TV production, but I wanted to try my hand in writing as well. By this time, TER had become one of the most frequented sites of mine, and I just thought, what the hell, go for it! It should also be said that it took me a while to get the hang of the writing style, and Rod was extremely patient with me, when he didn’t have to be. What can I say, I’m a slow learner ¯\_(:D)_/¯

Craig: I actually wanted to write for The Editing Room as soon as I found out about the site. I even got ahead of myself and started writing drafts of abridged scripts for Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Walk the Line, before I finally found the “How to Contribute” section of the site, which basically said “Please don’t, we don’t do that anymore”. It was a letdown. But that just made it all the more awesome when, four years later, Rod said he was trying out new authors. I jumped at the opportunity as soon as I heard about it.

Nicole: I am assuming this is the answer for most if us: one movie. In my case, that was Shame. I wrangled and bribed my closest friends to join me so that I could see a limited release film in the nearby city that played limited release movies. I was the designated driver (that was the trade) and their delightful tipsy input on the drive home garnered a lot of my inspiration.

Kam: I used to do stand-up comedy a few years ago and have been getting into writing for the last few years. This site seemed like a great blend of my two interests. The first piece of writing that I’ve ever had published was my first script on TER!

Lachlan: I was a wannabe writer (and I still am) and I was applying for everything. But more than that, it was the energy and vitality that Alex W. brought back when he returned to the site that served as my main fuel. Also, I really enjoy cracking jokes.

John K: It was such a goddam funny site and it seemed like a good opportunity to fill out my portfolio. I tried to stop but I was already hooked. These days, writing scripts its the only thing that stops the shakes.

Danny: Seeing the movie Scream 4, going to check what The Editing Room had to say about it, then finding out that there wasn't a script for it yet, but there was a solicitation for new writers! Long story short, Rod didn't use my script and I waited five years to try again with Blair Witch.

Alex W: I think Rorschach said it best: "We do it because we are compelled".

When I first found the site Rod was taking contributions so naturally I sent some in. Then there was a hiatus as I traveled the world studying to become Batman, then the Shadow, then the Immortal Iron Fist (Defender of Kun'lun, Sworn Enemy of the Hand, Charisma Suckhole of the Defenders), before learning those jobs were already taken, and more crucially, fictional.

By the time I returned, thoughts of TER had mostly left me... until Battle Los Angeles came along. After that movie I felt a restless, irrepressible urge to write an abridged script of it. I had no idea if TER was even still going, but I wrote the script, found the website was still there, and emailed it to Rod, expecting no answer.

As I later found out, Rod was on the very brink of shutting the whole site down forever when my email arrived. Instead, he posted my script, it went well enough to keep things going; and now, here we all are! So, yes, I have twisted this question into an excuse to tell my "how I saved The Editing Room" story, and I regret nothing.


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4. Among the scripts you’ve written, do you have any personal favourites? Any jokes you were especially happy with?

Rod: I really like my scripts for Expendables 1 and 3, Green Lantern, Ghost Rider 2, the Twilight movies, and Transformers. I laugh any time I re-read whatever the hell I turned Michael Bay into with the dialogue I decided to write for him, and I love that other authors have carried the tradition forward. My favorite joke is Kelsey Grammar’s list of actors who would have been a better fit for his part in Expendables 3. My favorite scripts of mine are the ones I wrote in 2010-2011.

Chris W: Dredd and Fast Five are my favorites. I tend to overuse the "Doomed Character" joke because it always makes me laugh no matter what.

Steph M: Probably Magic Mike XXL. It’s the script that got me the author gig. The concept of the movie is just so ridiculous that the jokes practically wrote themselves. Beauty and the Beast was really fun too.

Alex L.: So far, I’ve probably been the happiest with my script for The World Is Not Enough. It reliably makes me giggle whenever I reread it. I do feel like doing a James Bond Abridged Script is basically just writing an Archer episode, but hey, it’s not my fault the writing staff at FX won’t return my calls.

Alex W: A personal favourite is Jupiter Ascending because it made my wife Barbara very happy. I have a soft spot for more "experimental" scripts like Under the Skin or mother! or Cosmopolis. And I'll add Captain America: Civil War since it has some of my own favourite jokes I’ve done (including “Is it hot in here or just THE GIANT FIREBALL ENGULFING MY DAD NOOOOO” and “Er, I mean, beer and sports! Har har. War is hell.”) but also the final Ken-Burns-ish letter from Cap, which I stitched together using joke ideas from ALL THREE authors. There’s a special satisfaction to assembling a Frankenscript.

Other favourite jokes include the Skyfall word-association scene, The Guardians 2 "awesome weed" gag, and randomly giving Peter Capaldi a Doctor Who joke in World War Z, months BEFORE anyone knew he’d be playing the Doctor.

Jess M: I'm really happy with how I managed to come up with a concept for a script for The Disaster Artist; I didn't expect that at all. That's one of my favorites, along with Rent and Dead Poets Society. My favorite specific joke is my parody of "La Vie Bohème" from the Rent script.

Craig: On one level, I have a fondness for my Les Miserables script, but that’s mostly because it was the first script of mine to get a really strong positive reaction – to be honest I got really uncertain about that one while writing it, and submitted it hoping it was okay. It was very surprising and flattering when it went down as well as it did. As for which of my scripts I just plain like best, it’s probably Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure – circumstances having delayed that script for literally years, by the time it was published it was probably the most honed, least flabby of my scripts.

Favourite jokes? Well I’ve always been fond of my alternate endings to Mr. Holmes and Colossal.

Nicole: Maybe because it was the first, but from Shame, “There is nothing sadder than a sad orgasm.”

Joannes: I'm particularly fond of my script for The Counselor, in which I took that movie's penchant for obtuse philosophical meandering and incorporated it in my own writing to better ridicule it.

Kam: My favorite script I’ve done is The Bad Batch, which is ironic, because it’s the film I least enjoyed watching. Writing the script helped salvage the money that I paid to see that piece of shit. Plus, it was a lot of fun making fun of Jason Momoa’s terrible “Cuban” accent and the random Jim Carrey cameo.

Danny: Getting to reference 'Jeremy's Iron' in the Assassin's Creed script.

Lachlan: I’m not sure I’ve written anything better than Micah slamming his penis in the doorframe in Paranormal Activity. But my overall favourite script is The Monuments Men because I feel it got the most comedy out of the driest material.

John K: Deadpool is often considered my masterpiece but personally I'm partial to Whiplash. I felt I was stupidly clever for slipping the Navy Seal copypasta into a script. Battle of the Five Armies was also very cathartic because it at least let me extract SOME enjoyment from that film.

Raquel: The Lost World: Jurassic Park: "Oh, for crying out loud! Haven't any of you idiots watched King Kong?" (Jeff Goldblum, upon learning that InGen is having a T-Rex sent to the US).


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5. Which MCU character are YOU?

Rod: The Hulk - normally pretty mild-mannered but it’s easy me spun up on an insane angry rant about something I hated. I think the phrase I’ve heard more often than any other in my life is “tell us what you really think!"

John K: I'm the cute funny one with tasteful facial hair who makes sarcastic quips and gets the girl at the end. That one.

Chris W: Rocket. Who doesn't love Rocket?

Steph M: Agent Peggy Carter. Yeah yeah, she’s not a super hero, and I’m not English, but I always thought she was pretty cool.

Ian S: I’m Martin Freeman, because he and I both skipped every movie except Black Panther and Civil War.

Alex W: Star-Lord because of his psychological baggage and love of mix-tapes.

Jess M: This is a tough one because, believe it or not, I'm not massively into superhero movies. If I had to pick one, though, I'd go with Negasonic Teenage Warhead, because I was a pretty moody teen and I've been known to explode at will. [NOTE—this is not strictly a MCU choice but since the X-Men were recently assimilated, it’s allowed, lol]

Craig: This guy! (arrow pointing to random extra in background of Iron Man 2)

Kam: I’m Luke Cage except white and red-haired. Plus, my ears aren’t too small for my head.

Alex L.: I’m the guy playing Galaga on the Helicarrier, dreaming of being Thor.

Danny: The guy the Purple Man has smash his head against a wooden post. I want it to be the bug guy from Thor 3, but if I'm honest, it's the guy who smashes his head against a post.


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6. What would you say is the most challenging script you’ve written for TER?

Rod: Fuckin’ Burn After Reading, Christ. That script was an assignment from Cracked.com and I really, really, really didn’t want to abridge it. I didn’t think there was anything funny I could say about that movie and I wound up being right. That script is dog shit and writing it is my biggest regret on the site - the second biggest is mentioning it again here knowing it will only draw attention to it.

Jess M: Lady Bird. It was a very well-made movie in many respects: the performances were great, the direction was good in a bland sort of way, and the script really wasn't terrible. All I had to work with was my dislike of the main character and the fact that it was a poorly disguised biopic. I think it turned out OK in the end, but it wasn't my best work.

Chris W: 12 Years a Slave. That was not an easy egg to crack.

Craig: The hardest scripts have been the musical scripts, especially parodying each song from the original Beauty and the Beast, then turning around and parodying the same songs again for the remake. It was fun challenging though, otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered. Difficult in a different way is any time I abridge a drama or arthouse movie, especially Manchester By the Sea, which I pretty much only abridged to see if I could.

Nicole: Trainwreck because it was written by a woman comedian, and The Great Gatsby because the story is a classic.

Joannes: Writing scripts for sci-fi blockbusters is fairly straightforward, so I'm glad I was able to churn one out for Mud, an independent drama that didn't lend itself as easily to being abridged.

Kam: The Chronicles of Riddick because of how dense that movie is. Just as I mention in the script, they introduce some crazy-ass story element every few minutes and give almost no context for anything. I had to do a lot of research into the “Riddick-verse” to understand what the hell most things were.

Lachlan: The most challenging movies to abridge are the ones where you forget half of them the moment you walk out of the theatre. Ghost in the Shell was probably the worst in that regard. Paranormal Activity 4 & 5 were also hard, because they didn’t really have many obvious plot points to build on.

John K: Deadpool was hard. It isn't easy making a parody of a parody. And oh look, number two's on the horizon and guess who's signed up! Where's my gin?


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7. What are some of your favourite scripts written by other authors?

Rod: Hands down my favorite script on the site is Les Miserables by Craig. When he first requested it I almost tried to talk him out of it a bit, telling him that for musicals I’d like all the dialogue to rhyme and gave him a couple examples of “doing it right” with links to scripts for musicals I wrote. He was like “um okay yeah I think I got this, I’ve actually written musicals before” and then submits this abridged script that absolutely blew my shoddy attempts out of the water.

Alex W: Too damn many so I'm going to do a lightning round! For Rod I’m picking Expendables 3; love the running joke about the non-existent prequels. For Chris W it’s 12 Years a Slave because, wow. For Craig, everyone rightly loves Les Miserables so I’m going with the Taken trilogy which I've read like 500 times. John K, the obvious answer is Deadpool but I think Dunkirk is my favourite. Lachlan I gotta go with Power Rangers and not only because there's a Doctor Who joke. Nicole: Brooklyn because I still laugh at "Dark Dreary Terrible Ireland". Ian: Olympus has Fallen. Jess: You've Got Mail (updated from Tulip Fever). Rick: Ender's Game. Steph: Close Encounters. Joannes: Jack Reacher. Owain: Knowing. Alex L: The Rite. Kam: The Bad Batch. James M: Three Musketeers. Ben: We Bought a Zoo. Danny: Alien Resurrection. Chris R: Top Gun. Raquel: The Lost World. Phew!!

Jess M: The ones I keep re-reading are John K.'s takes on Moana, Whiplash and Deadpool.

Steph M: Black Swan, The Amazing Spiderman 2, Independence Day, Oz the Great and Powerful, The Help, Deadpool, and of course, all of the YA/franchise scripts (Twilight/Harry Potter/Transformers/50 Shades) are fucking golden. Plus I loved the script for The Last Jedi.

Danny: There's so many good ones, but my all-time favorite script is License to Wed. So pure, so simple, so true.

Craig: Too many to even count! It’s hard to top Rod, with his Transformers scripts and Twilight scripts, and his scripts for Drive and A Night at the Roxbury and 21 and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and so on. But I also love the scripts for Logan, Aliens, The Wolf of Wall Street, Paranormal Activity, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Iron Man 3, The Host, The Star Wars Holiday Special, Shakespeare in Love, every Fifty Shades script, (please see attached 12-page document)

Possibly what I like above all are scripts which try something different. Like mother! (formatted like biblical verse), or Teaching Mrs. Tingle (author walks out on movie, makes the rest of the story up), or 12 Years a Slave (author gets repeatedly distracted by how angry he is).

Raquel: Life of Pi, A Sweet Autumn in November in New York, Zootopia.

Chris W: Les Miserables, Oblivion, Taken 2 and Revenge of the Sith are all better than anything I've written.

Alex L.: Rod’s Van Helsing script will always be a favorite as my gateway to TER. Other than that, it’s hard to choose. I think everyone who writes for the site does legitimately great work, so it’s hard to single any out. I do have a soft spot for the script gimmicks; silent mode in the script for The Artist, JJ Vision in the Super 8 script, that sort of thing. John K’s script reading was fantastic, and a format I want to try someday.

Kam: Back when I first discovered the site, every Twilight script would have me in tears from laughter. My wife and I would often read them aloud to each other when we were stuck in traffic.

Lachlan: Man, that’s tough. Skyfall by Alex W. is great, especially the line “I'll leave a trail of super subtle cryptic clues so that Javier can fiendishly deduce that we went to MY OWN HOUSE.” But the script I have the most affection for is Divergent, because of the fond memories I have of laughing and sharing it with my sister right after we saw the movie. I also really admire how Craig churns out great scripts from dry, not-very-obvious-for-comedy films. It’s really influenced how I approach scriptwriting and how I try to gain comedy from even the driest of material.

John K: Gravity made me fall off my chair. The script of the film "Gravity" is also quite funny.


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8. Has writing for TER affected how you enjoy/appreciate movies in general?

Kam: It has helped me to better understand why I like/hate the movies that I do. I have done a lot of research on clichés and tropes for my scripts and that has helped me better explain my reactions to movies. One positive effect, though, is that when I see a bad movie I can at least do an abridged script for it and recoup some of my wasted time.

Alex W: Not just me; I've been known to mutter joke ideas out loud while watching a movie, so it's also affected people who sit near me.

Jess M: It's become difficult for me just to sit down and enjoy a movie without wondering how much abridging potential it has. If it's something like The Death of Stalin, which defies abridging, I can get into it more. Otherwise, I spend the entire movie writing jokes in my head and being impatient for the thing to wrap up so I can get back to my laptop.

Ian S: I actually work as a script reader in Los Angeles, and I think writing for TER is the only reason I’m good at it. My bosses have gotten some very sarcastic reviews.

Steph M: It’s funny, there was period of time where I was very hypercritical of movies. This happened with Jurassic World and a couple of other movies too, but I think it was just a phase. I’ve calmed down a bit.

Nicole: Yes- I think about how I could write the script for a movie that makes my brain burn, and then think of someone else who would do it better. Like the Wolf of Wall Street; I hated it so severely, but clearly, that was for Alex.

Chris W: Not really. If anything its made it more fun as I can never truly take off my abridging hat when watching movies anymore.

Craig: I find that I enjoy bad movies a lot more than I used to. Stupid characters, incomprehensible plotting, terrible dialogue, it’s all a lot more enjoyable when you find yourself instinctively turning it into comedy. Of course, on rare occasions the opposite can be true – you enjoy good movies less because they’re no fun to pick apart – but that’s rare, and dumb.


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9. Do you have a specific writing process for abridged scripts? Any habits or superstitions?

Alex W: If I know I’m going to abridge a movie, I need to write down a plot summary ASAP, just in point form so I can get the sequence of events straight. That becomes a skeleton to start adding material as I think of it. At some point I start writing start-to-finish but, of course, keep jumping around as ideas happen or I remember another funny thing Barbara said. Finally, I check to make sure there's a board-game joke and, if at all possible, at least one use of "totes".

John K: I tend to keep the wiki page of the film open on my computer for the ENTIRE writing process for the script. If it takes three weeks, that tab is staying open for three weeks. I guess it's supposed to be a reminder or something.

Craig: I always write a script in Final Draft first, then copy-paste the text into the site, which is a bit silly because then I have to go through and correct the formatting on every single line. But, it also means that if a script isn’t going well, I can bail on it without ever creating a draft, so nobody knows of my failure! (For example: the actual most challenging script I’ve ever worked on is a script for Seventh Son, which I tried to play out as a D&D session ala DM of the Rings or Darths and Droids. It was so challenging that I never even finished it, and nobody was the wiser! Uh…until now, I guess.)

Nicole: No superstitions. I have my husband read all of them before I submit them. He won’t tell me, “This is complete shit.” He will say something like “This is not your best” (Winter’s Tale). He mostly knows when it would be well received.

Joannes: Nothing fancy, I make notes while watching a movie and then fill in the blanks as I write out the script. What usually stumps me the most is when I have to find yet another new joke to highlight a ubiquitous trope I've already joked about in a lot of earlier scripts.

Danny: When I'm covering a movie I have on video, I watch it at double speed because that helps me focus on the details of plot and dialogue.

Kam: My writing process is pretty damn inefficient. I watch the movie through while taking meticulous notes about potential jokes and plot points that I need to remember to include. I then write the first draft of the script while pretty much ignoring all of my notes and re-watching specific scenes. Then I go through and highlight parts of the script that need more jokes or need to be reworded and things that can be cut out for length. Then I go through and make the changes and tighten the script up the best I can; lastly, I post it on the website and make sure that everything is formatted properly. Then, the commenters point out all of the mistakes I forgot to fix.

This is why I tend to abridge older movies that I can re-watch a couple of times. I don’t know how the other authors are able to watch a new movie once in theaters and then write a script but I hope they never stop!



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10. Is there a particular genre that you enjoy abridging the most?

John K: Action movies are usually solid, but I most enjoy writing scripts for really, really good movies. It's a challenge, and they usually have enough cultural capital that I can make more obscure references that people will actually get. Pixar movies are also good fodder because they always have horrifying implications no one points out.

Jess M: I love abridging musicals. I've been writing song parodies privately for years, so abridging a musical gives me an outlet for that. I have quite a few song parodies I've never shown anyone.

Craig: Probably science fiction. Unless a science fiction writer has really, really covered their asses, there’s gonna be logical problems and inconsistencies with whatever premise they’re working from, and it’s always fun to root them out and bring them to light. You have no idea how much I enjoyed unravelling the terrible time travel logic of Project Almanac.

Nicole: Horror. But a close second is Drama.

Joannes: Sci-fi is my favourite genre, so I feel like I have enough of a knowledge base there to really make those scripts shine.

Alex W: I love doing the MCU movies, because they're usually enjoyable enough to watch multiple times but they’re also chock full of goofy things to poke fun at. And I really enjoy writing dialogue for those characters. My other favourite is Tom Cruise sci-fi movies.

Chris W: Horror, though I don't get to do it as often. Action and Sci-Fi are my second favorites.

Kam: I prefer to do sci-fi/fantasy type movies. I enjoy watching these films the most and, since the screenwriter has to create a universe to frame the story, there’s a lot of plot holes to exploit. Like, why the fuck didn’t Frodo just ride a giant eagle to Mordor, amirite?

Lachlan: Scifi/fantasy stuff, but Craig inspired me to try to be less discriminatory.

Danny: Horror! So many questionable decisions, so little logic. So much leaning on jump-scares to paper over plot holes.


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11. If you could wave your hand and permanently prevent ONE movie trope/cliché from ever happening again—which would you choose?

Rod: The “smart character knew everything the other characters would do in every situation” cliche. The movie is going along and characters are making decisions which affect the plot, and then it turns out the smartest character knew every decision they were going to make like some kind of super genius. Beloved as it is, The Dark Knight is super guilty of this.

Nicole: Manic Pixie Dreamgirl is too obvious for an answer. But it’s pretty annoying.

Danny: The villain who gives too much information in casual conversation. "I can't believe that Bill was shot three times in the head out behind the bullfighting ring!" 'Wait a minute, I never said how many times Bill was shot, or where on his body, or where in the city! Only the killer could have known that!'

Jess M: If a conflict in a movie can be solved by two characters sitting down and talking to each other, it's a bad movie. I guess you could call that the "'70s Sitcom Plot."

Steph M: Hitting someone over the head, knocking them unconscious so you can tie them up etc., and then have them wake up hours later being completely fine. I’m not a doctor but I’m pretty sure that’s not how head injuries work. I’ve read that anyone unconscious after a few minutes would probably have a concussion or some other head trauma. I recently saw this in Annihilation and thought to myself, “They’re STILL doing this shit?”

Also, stalking. IT’S NOT ROMANTIC!

John K: "Wait, I can explain! Let me just keep shouting at you about how I can explain instead of actually explaining!"

Alex L.: This isn’t really a movie trope or cliché, because I love those; they’re so easy to make fun of! It’s more of a commentary about a current trend in moviemaking: remakes, reboots, too many sequels... can we just stop? It’s so incredibly boring and unoriginal, but they’re going to make Transformers 27, because those films print money. I know I don’t have to go see them, but studios are still dedicating resources to making shit films when there are so many exciting stories out there that haven’t been told yet. I fully agree with Ron Perlman (go read his autobiography) when he says that storytelling and the collective consciousness is what unites us as a species. How is a live-action shot-for-shot remake of Beauty and the Beast enriching humanity in any way?

Joannes: Women written to serve only as emotional motivators for men (usually by dying).

Alex W: EMPTY COFFEE CUPS. I know they don't want to use water in case it spills on stuff but can't you at least put a weight in it? Movie characters drink "scotch" and "wine" in clear glasses all the time, so clearly it CAN be done with actual fluid present, so WHAT THE FUCK PEOPLE.

Also that scene that goes "I have something to tell you." "Oh I have something to tell you!" "You go first." "Okay, it's a big speech that utterly torpedoes what you were going to tell me. So, um, you had something to say?" "Oh... nothing. It wasn't important." I feel that scene's been done enough times.

Chris W: The hero not killing the bad guy because "that will make you just as bad as them". Fuck that. Sometimes you just need to be Deadpool and shoot Ajax in the face.

Raquel: A lies to B. A falls in love with B and regrets the lie. Before A comes clean, B learns the truth, feels betrayed and breaks up with them. Eventually, B forgives A and they make up. The End.

Craig: I would ban screenwriters from building a story around the moral, “If you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything!”, because no, you can’t. For every person who actually becomes a champion athlete or gets the lead in a Broadway play or gets elected President or whatever, there’s hundreds, maybe thousands of other people who worked hard and believed in themselves and didn’t succeed, and Hollywood has spent the past century telling everybody that these people simply didn’t want it enough, that if they had deserved to win they would have won. The real message should be that following your dreams is its own reward, not that effort is always rewarded with success.


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12. What’s the best experience you’ve ever had at the movies?

Alex W: My favourite "at the movies" experiences are when you feel an entire packed theatre get completely drawn into a movie. Tom Cruise getting lowered into the noise-alarm room in the first Mission Impossible and everyone getting suuuuper quiet. The end of Get Out when you see "AIRPORT SECURITY" on the door and everyone cheering and whooping in sheer relief. Heck, the ending of Infinity War goes on this list too. That, and times when I'd finally get to see a proper big-screen print of something I'd only ever seen on cruddy beat-up VHS rentals, like Aliens or The Thing.

Jess M: My husband (then-fiancé) was in the UK for graduate school from 2015-16. Around Valentine's Day 2016, I was missing him so badly that I had barely smiled for two solid weeks. Then two of my friends invited me to go see Deadpool with them, and it was just what I needed. Deadpool cured my depression.

Steph M: From recent memory, I’d have to say the Force Awakens. It was such a thrill to see a continuation of the original Star Wars trilogy in theaters, especially for us youngins who have only seen the originals on VHS and DVD. Sure the movie isn’t perfect, but the audience was super pumped and it was really fun watching it.

Craig: That’s a tough one, but I’d probably say the time my grandmother took me to a screening of Rear Window. I’ve never seen a movie which better exemplifies what a movie theatre can do that home theatre can’t – every element of the production design, cinematography and sound design is expertly crafted to create perfect sensory immersion in a cinema full of movie fans. I was completely drawn in, that apartment block became my whole world for a couple of hours. Magical.

Nicole: I was going to see The Titanic with my mom and sister. I was late and the theater was huge. Mom and sis were in a center aisle and when I found them, I just hopped over the aisle. When I sat down my mom informed me that I had just hopped over the governor and his wife. I asked my mom his name and his wife’s name, and mom said something like, “Edward Whatever and I think his wife is named after gum.” (Mom was Canadian). It was Edwin Edwards and his wife who went by Candy. I apologized to Ed and Candy. Ed informed I would probably enjoy The English Patient. And then my mom told me not to interact with them anymore. He later served a prison term.

Joannes: Watching 2001: A Space Odyssey on a huge screen while bumfuck high.

Chris W: Snakes on a Plane was the most fun movie experience I've had in a theater. People even laughed at the title card. They knew what they paid for.

Alex L.: When I was 13, one of my friends had a birthday party where he took me and a bunch of our other guy friends to see Mean Girls. It was a blast. Opening night of The Force Awakens was pretty amazing. It felt like being a part of history, and I understood better what it must have been like for my dad when Star Wars first came out in the 70s. We somehow didn’t have reserved seats, but managed to be first in line, so we got perfect center seats, and everyone was quiet and respectful the whole movie.

Basically anytime the other people in the theatre aren’t being inconsiderate fuckbags, I soak it in and have an incredible time.

Kam: “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” in 4D. We really need more of these movie theaters in the US, because they enhance the hell out of the experience and help justify spending so much money on going to the movies when we all know that we could find it for free online with almost no effort.

Lachlan: Xavier Samuel fighting back in “The Loved Ones”. The payoff to the coffin Franco Nero was carrying around in “Django”. (The 1966 film, not “Django Unchained”) Quite a bit of “Thor: Ragnarok”.

John K: Avengers 1 is up there. I was with a ton of good friends, had a few beers, the audience was great, and you have to remember, this was the first time a big teamup movie like this had ever happened so we were all kind of in awe. It was more like a rock concert than an actual movie.


-fucker!

13. Conversely, what’s the WORST experience you’ve ever had at the movies?

Alex W: The anniversary re-release of The Exorcist. Went with a few friends, and we were the ONLY people in the entire theatre that wanted to watch it seriously; everyone else was laughing, mocking loudly, chatting with their group, generally being assholes. It's a testament to how well the movie's made that it was still scaring me despite all the distractions.

Chris W: I can't remember the movie, but someone brought a baby to an R rated movie. I just... I don't understand the reasoning behind that. How do you talk yourself into thinking that's a good idea with a low rate of disaster?

Ian S: Watching “mother!” I don’t know how Alex survived it. I left the theatre early. Fuck you Darren.

Craig: Remember the Johnny Depp movie, Secret Window? No of course not, why would you, even if you saw it. But I went to see that film, in which Depp plays a guy who’s being tormented by this crazy murderer guy. Then suddenly, just when the plot was starting to lead somewhere, it dumped this twist on us that there is no murderer guy, that Depp is the crazy one. And it had all these flashbacks explaining that Depp is the one who did this, Depp is the one who did that – except these were flashbacks to things that hadn’t even happened. Like, “Depp is the one who killed the policeman!”, and I’m sitting there going “What? The policeman died? When did that happen?”

So then Depp kills his wife, and it looks like the movie is going to end surprisingly early, when suddenly Depp is all confused again, worried about that crazy guy who’s harassing him. Then he comes across the policeman character and he’s been murdered, holy crap!

…And it’s at that stage that I realised that the cinema had screened a plot-heavy mystery thriller, which ends with a big climactic plot twist, with the reels in the wrong order.

Joannes: I live in Belgium, where people are whisper quiet in theatres and you can properly focus on the movie. So when I went to theatres while travelling through the States and realised everybody there genuinely whoops and hollers at the screen, it ruined everything.

Alex L.: My wife (then girlfriend) and I really wanted to see 22 Jump Street right when it came out, but all the usual theatres we went to were sold out. So, we bought tickets to a 10:30 showing at an out-of-the-way theatre we had never been to before. New York’s hottest club is “A Checklist Of Things Designed To Drive Alex Insane.” It’s got the large group of young people in the back row who wouldn’t stop talking to each other. It’s got the people in the first few rows on their phones the whole movie. It’s got the baby who isn’t a fan of Jonah Hill. It’s got the theatre employee who didn’t do anything about any of the above. It’s got stale popcorn and sticky floors. 0/10, would not do again.

Raquel: Watching The Blair Witch Project in a theater with light seeping in through the door frames and insufficient noise sealing. The pitch black scenes were shadowy at best, and sometimes we could hear people talking outside. The mood was ruined.


i was loaded okay

14. What other things do you like to create besides abridged scripts? (if anything)

Lachlan: I write SCPs under the name “rockyred9”. I also have a YouTube channel, onlyforfilmclass, where I post shitposts disguised as regular film clips and other miscellaneous stuff. I directed a few episodes of a talk show, “Tough Times Never Last”, and a bunch of other stuff for Aussie community television. I also had an author page on MicroHorror.com, but unfortunately that site closed down a few years back.

Jess M: I write a column for a political website in Canada. I also like to cook.

Ian S: I’m currently shooting a horror film I wrote about backpackers fighting vampires in the Appalachians. Really.

Steph M: I like to create annoyance among my neighbors when I play the flute. (The musical instrument, you perverts)

Danny: Video games! I'm currently making a Visual Novel!

Joannes: I'm pretty good at building on existing properties (which is what the abridged scripts amount to), so wherever and whenever I can, I try to create original works. I'll talk about those in my acceptance speech.

Chris W: Unproduced screenplays that go unread are kind of my hobby.

Kam: I’ve written a few short stories and I’m also working on building a blog (it’s nowhere near ready for people to see). I’ll keep you posted ;)

John K: Apart from my lucrative side business writing Star Trek bondage erotica, I write and perform with a group called Locked Into Vacancy Entertainment. We have an old-timey radio podcast and we do monthly live shows at Uptown Underground in Chicago. Check us out on Facebook and iTunes if you want to hear my nasally-ass voice dither on the mirth-waves.


scarjo bus

15. Is there any movie you personally consider “un-abridgeable”? (Not the “Sharknado vs. Mega-Octopus” level of “so horribly bad it’s just bad”, but something you’re just too fond of, or it’s just too good, or it defies any interpretation)

Rod: Honestly I thought my favorite movie of all time, Se7en, was too flawless to be abridged but John K. proved me wrong.

Alex W: Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Comedies are always harder by their nature, and those two I consider to be essentially perfect comedies. I wouldn’t know where the hell to start.

Jess M: Movies like Office Space and Mean Girls are too quotable to abridge. You'd basically have to rewrite the movie verbatim.

Ian S: NOBODY is touching “Spirited Away.” Ever.

Steph M: The Big Lebowski. If someone else wants to do it, by all means go for it. But it’s such a goofy little gem of a movie, and I don't think I would ever go near it.

Craig: I don’t see how Airplane!, the funniest movie ever made, could possibly be abridged. The only option I could even think of would be to “reverse-Yankovic” it and write a completely sincere version, but if you do that then you’re pretty much just transcribing Zero Hour.

Nicole: Fargo, and In Bruges.

Chris W: Any movie can be abridged. I've considered doing Kill Bill Vol 1 but it would probably just be me giving it a 3,000 word blowjob.

Kam: Yes, there are quite a few movies that I hold dear that I could never abridge but I won’t mention them here for fear that someone will take it as a challenge to abridge.

Lachlan: The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

John K: At this point I have to say no. If Under the Skin can be effectively parodied, anything can.

Danny: Zodiac. I know there's already a Zodiac script on the site, but...


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16. Okay we might as well do this: what in your opinion is the WORST. MOVIE. EVERRRRRR

Rod: Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas. It’s a movie where Kirk Cameron and his sourpuss brother-in-law sit in a car for an hour and a half and Kirk convinces him that crass commercialism is Jesus’s favorite thing. The movie ends with a slow motion hip-hop dance sequence. Some runners-up: Disaster Movie/Epic Movie/Meet the Spartans/Date Movie, Jack and Jill, Bucky Larson, Grown Ups, Perfect Stranger, Sex and the City 2, Cop Out, the Scooby Doo movies, Lady in the Water, Mortal Kombat Annihilation, and Dreamcatcher.

Alex W: I’m torn between "The Conqueror", that John Wayne Genghis Khan movie where everyone got cancer, and the 1998 "Avengers" because watching it on purpose gave me an idea how that kid at the end of Stephen King's "The Jaunt" must have felt; you know, "WORSE THAN YOU THINK!! WORSE THAN YOU THINK, DAD!! I SAW! I SAW!!! HELD MY BREATH WHEN THEY GAVE ME THE GAS!! WORSE THAN YOUU THIIIINK (claws eyes out)", all that stuff.

Jess M: From Justin to Kelly. Some people think it's so bad, it's good, but I'm not one of them; it was just incompetent and lazy in every possible respect. I might abridge it one of these days.

Steph M: I don’t know about the absolute worst, but I’d definitely say the Emoji Movie is up there. I did the script for it, and I actually laughed at everyone in the comment section who thanked me for taking a bullet for them. It’s funny because the only reason I did that script was for the site. I never intended to see that movie, I just wanted to do another script and that one was available. And holy christ, I could not fathom that level of awfulness. There were a number of whiskey-induced moments during the writing of that script where I contemplated the meaning of my life.

Alex L.: I’ve only ever walked out of one movie in the theatres. I like getting my money’s worth, so I generally will stay, even if it’s awful. Long story short, I was tricked into seeing Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen when it first came out, and it was so terrible, I left about an hour in, abandoning the girl I had a crush on at the time. There was a group of our friends there with her; I’m not a monster. That’s probably not the worst movie ever, but it’s the worst movie I can remember seeing. It was so bad, I’ve remembered how bad it was for 14 years.

Craig: Well, if we disqualify the kind of baffling incompetent stuff like The Room or Plan Nine from Outer Space, which as bad as they are can’t be hated, I’d probably say The Lorax. I’ve never walked out on a movie, but it was only to keep up that record that I sat through that piece of garbage. Most soulless film I’ve ever sat through. Every single joke, every single song, every single action scene, I felt like I could actually see a bunch of smirking fifty-year-old studio executives patting each other on the back, congratulating one another on successfully calculating what the kids these days find “cool”. Ugh.

Nicole: The Thin Red Line. That is all I have to say about that.

Chris W: I'm still pretty raw about Green Lantern all these years later. Maybe not the worst ever, but certainly one of them.

Kam: The American version of “Oldboy” was the most infuriating movie I have ever seen. The Korean version is such a flawless movie that I went ahead and bought the American version on Blu-ray without a second thought. Even though it was directed by Spike Lee (eeeeeeew) I thought “The source material is so good that there is no way they could fuck it up.” Needless to say, the second the movie ended, I silently pulled the disk out of the Blu-ray player and threw it directly into the trash. My wife later said “That’s exactly what I expected you to do.”

Danny: God, so much to choose from... I'm going to go with Frightmare, a direct-to-video slasher film almost no one has seen.

Lachlan: Hard to say. “The Last Airbender” and “The Room” were the most incompetent, but that was what made them fascinating to watch. “Bewitched” might have been the most boring film I’ve seen in a theatre. “Star Wars Holiday Special” might qualify as the most boring one I’ve seen period, but in some portions it’s entrancingly bad. “The Three Musketeers” (which was abridged by James M.) definitely is in the top five, for having the most unsympathetic heroes I’ve seen in any medium. “Project X” is in the top five for being Project X.

John K: Hot MILFs Episode 13 really drove the series into the ground. Hot MILFs 14 just couldn't salvage the plot, and Hot MILFs In Space was just pandering.


de ahtist

17. What is your preferred context to watch a movie: at home, in a regular theatre, at a VIP theatre? 2-D, 3-D, IMAX? Opening night, or a sleepy weekday afternoon?

Rod: The drive-in. It’s really the best way to watch a movie - enormous screens, you can basically tweak your own sound using your car radio, you get to eat the whole time, and you never have to battle anyone for an arm rest. But Drive-ins are pretty much all gone now, so second to that, at home. I hate the movie theater and I look forward to the day that all interesting movies are released streaming, with only Disney movies being released in Disney-owned theaters.

Lachlan: A week or so after opening, so I can walk in and out of the theatre without annoying anyone.

Alex W: Front row, right-hand side, in a VIP theatre with the reclining seats and a cold beer.

Jess M: Regal Meridian 16 (the one with the super-comf seats) in Seattle, 2-D, opening night, with Mr. M. and a box of those frozen cookie dough things.

Steph M: RECLINING CHAIRS!! EVERY MOVIE THEATER SHOULD HAVE THEM!!

Nicole: At home. I have to pee like an 80-year-old diabetic man. The Husband can’t handle me walking out of Logan when… well you know when. So I have to be at home to pause the movie unless I want the thread of our marriage to disintegrate into his madness.

Kam: Like I said, 4D is king (especially for a space-themed movie because the moving seats can help make you feel weightless and immerse you more into the movie). Otherwise, I like to watch movies from my couch at home. Brand new movies are WAY too expensive to watch in theaters and they don’t even let you smoke plants while you’re there.

John K: My favorite way to watch a movie is with a lot of alcohol and a bunch of friends who won't mind if I mock it lovingly but relentlessly throughout. Theaters are alright but I need a quiet audience. One guy wrestling with his bag of Doritos will quickly earn his place in my basement freezer next to the open-mouth chewers.

Danny: Regular theater, as empty as possible, so Sunday night, first show on a Thursday morning, that kind of completely quiet theater to enjoy the full experience in.


injure stella

18. Have you put any “Easter eggs” into your abridged scripts that (as far as you know) nobody’s spotted yet?

Alex L.: I’ve thrown in some obscure references here and there that no one has specifically pointed out, but I’m not going to say what they are, or how will I continue to feel smug about them?

Rod: One of the early inspirations for The Editing Room, in addition to Rinkworks movie-a-minute, was a post called "Predict-O-Scripts" by Ian Kitching that you can still find if you search a bit. These were extremely, EXTREMELY short scripts for movies, usually only a few lines, but I thought they were hilarious in their brevity. One particular predict-o-script was for "Flipper" where Paul Hogan says "Here's some toast. I made it with a blow torch. Har har har." which I found hysterical for some reason. I don't think anyone has ever picked up on it but I repeatedly use the phrase "har har har" in my earlier scripts as an homage to Predict-O-Scripts. I also used the phrase "twist my stupid face off" from their script for The Cable Guy which I thought was more obvious but I don't think anyone ever noticed.

Alex W: The phrase “all right” appears in the Interstellar script (including photo caption) exactly three times. Plus there's some "City on the Hill" references in The Witch that I don't think anyone picked up on (but HOW?!?!). Tower Heist, my 51st script, is crammed with references to my first 50 scripts, possibly too much.

Steph M: While doing research for Goldfinger, I learned that Ian Fleming, the author of the original novels, named the main character after an American bird expert (aka Ornithologist) James Bond. So early in the script when Bond sports a duck on his head, I had the woman with the mirror eyes call him a “weird ornithologist.”

Craig: If you want to go as obscure as possible, I don’t think anybody caught the brief reference to the John Michael McDonagh movie The Guard in my abridged script for Runner Runner. Less obscurely, I was surprised when nobody picked up on the fact that in one of my scripts I deliberately avoided having any swear words harsher than “goddamn”. (Actually I’ve written two PG scripts, but the other one is a Patreon exclusive so it’s less surprising that it slipped the radar.)

Kam: Yeah, check out The 6th Day. I made a very specific reference to a scene from another Arnold Schwarzenegger movie that I’m shocked that nobody mentioned in the comments.

Lachlan: I don’t think anyone found my reference to “The Goodies” in “Suicide Squad”.

John K: Nobody ever mentioned the Navy Seal Copypasta in Whiplash, so either it went unnoticed or it wasn't as funny as I thought. Also I didn't even realize this until it had happened many times but I reference Scooby Doo a lot in my scripts. I don't know why, I never even watched the cartoon much.

Jess M: I used the phrase "yackety shmackety" in my Fifty Shades Darker script. I don't know if anyone got that reference.

Ian S: I put a lot of backpacking humour in my script for Gilmore Girls, which means one day some TER reader who hiked the PCT and loves Gilmore Girls will comment and say “OMG SO TRUE! Vermillion Valley Resort is EVIL! Good thing I read this script so I knew not to stop there! Thanks, TER!”


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19. Do your family and/or friends know that you write for TER? Have you had any amusing reactions from them?

Jess M: They sure do. I'm told my mom was crying with laughter over my take on Rent.

Ian S: I’m pretty sure a commenter named “The Mom” who posts on all of my scripts might be my real mom. That’s a stretch, though, since my real mom can’t figure out Facebook.

Craig: I’ve mentioned my work for The Editing Room to some of my family members; unfortunately I come from a very non-geeky clan, so I have yet to get any of them to give a crap.

Nicole: Just the husband and a couple of friends. Other than the husband, one other friend reads through my stuff before I post them.

Chris W: Ooooh no. As far as they know I'm a perfect little angel who doesn't write dirty jokes or take the Lord's name in vain.

Kam: My family knows about it but they all say “I don’t watch many movies so I don’t get any of the jokes.” My wife is pretty much my sole sounding-board for ideas.

Lachlan: My family and friends know. I keep encouraging my friend Ryan to write a script because he consumes bad movies like cocaine, but he prefers to make podcasts from them instead.

John K: Yes, it was quite amusing when my mother wept and my father revoked my claims on his lands and titles. The day I tried to return my own brother took my left eye in our duel. Family shit, can't explain it.


THE FUTURE

20. What do you think the future holds for TER?

Lachlan: Increasingly longer lists of questions on anniversaries.

Joannes: I'm glad there has been no pivot-to-video bullshit, so I hope that holds out and we can still offer generic plaintext.

Alex L.: I think what Rod’s created and maintained all these years is really impressive, and one of the hidden gems of the Internet. (I have proof; there was a Reddit thread that mentioned TER, and the traffic may have caused a couple of hours of unexpected downtime.) I think it deserves to be better known than it is, but I simultaneously like how tight-knit of a community it is right now.

Whatever happens in the future, and however popular the site is or isn’t, I feel lucky to be involved.

Craig: I anticipate that The Editing Room will have overthrown all world governments by 2040. This, of course, will attract the wrath of the ghost wolves of Saturn, and humanity will be obliterated in interplanetary nuclear war. In the meantime, I hope that things keep right on as they are – that movies keep sucking, that me and my favourite Editing Room authors keep taking them down.

Alex W: Some day, some glorious, shining day, we WILL be a Jeopardy! clue.

Steph M: I’m not sure, but what I did learn from the recent reddit hug we experienced, a lot more people visit this site than I would have thought. It would be cool if we could get up to the popularity levels of more widely known humor sites, but it’s also nice to have our own little corner of the internet.

John K: Hopefully, more Star Trek bondage erotica. Come on, Rod. Your boy's gotta eat!

Rod: The story of the site’s creation and near-shutdown is optioned for a movie directed by Steven Spielberg. Alex W is played by Domhnall Gleeson. Hey, it can’t be any worse than Ready Player One.


Bonus Comments:

Lachlan: I know this isn’t part of the questionnaire, but I just want to give a massive shout-out to Rod for being probably the best editor I’ve ever had. Rod’s been nothing but generous and patient with us over the years, and he’s always tried to make sure we received at least some kind of compensation for our work, even in the dark days before Patreon when the site was a drain on his wallet. I still remember the $25 Amazon voucher I received completely out of the blue for Christmas many years ago. Thanks a whole bunch Rod, and thanks to all the other authors and commenters who’ve supported me over the years.

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