Pete’s notes, edited by me:
The Narrator is the Guy who lives in the Couch. He’s never seen by other roommates (just Lily.) Sometimes a roomie needs something or lost something (some object or other) & states such by the couch, after which the audience sees the Couch guy’s arm poke out long enough to set said wanted object on the couch. etc. He is the observer, guardian, unseen helper & narrator of the arthouse. (Voiceover narration written in past tense, like the narrator is recounting the whole story, a la Waylon Jennings, ‘Dukes of Hazzrd’-style)
(Discuss this) If Lily also addresses the camera directly (as we’ve discussed), it might be fun to have her react to his voiceover/narrative once they meet face to face in the below scene. (Something as simple as, Narrator: “And you won’t believe what happened next…”, Lily: “I don’t suppose you want to tell us the details this time, huh?” Narrator: ‘You know i can’t do that, but I can tell you your life won’t be the same after this one…” etc etc)
ep 1 opener.
Lily wakes up, as camera pulls back to reveal all the other roomates asleep in the bed (everybody is clothed. not sexual. maybe there was an xtc cuddle puddle party the night before or something, but its never explained). Lily looks at people she is sharing bed with and quicket inner monologue plays over he thinking. “How did all these people end up in my bed?” Some transition out, perhaps all are awaken by ridiclous sound that starts the episode?
Lily gets out of bed after all have left and begins to unpack. Everything she owns fits in one suitcase “with room to spare”.
Val teaching Lily to paint. Open with shot of them side by side (turned a bit towards each other), canvases on easels, back of canvases in foreground (characters sitting on stools, facing camera behind canvas/easel). val is talking laidback style about art/art theory and what he thinks, ending with “…and that’s how you make art!” Cut to opposite of side of scene shot, characters now midground w/ backs mostly to camera & artwork on easels visible in background. val’s painting is beautiful and complete. lily’s canvas is blank. she tentatively dips brush into yellow. val gives her encouraging words. she makes a slow stroke across canvas. near end stroke, val leaps off stool at lily, knocking over her easel in the process, while yelling, “That’s not how you make art! You got to go with the Gut!” (end scene)
Narrator (guy who lives in couch): Things were tense at the Arthouse after the “That’s not how you make art!” incident. But Val made good late the next morning…
Lily wakes up to find a sticky note on her forehead. note reads: “I’m sorry. Art is whatever you want it to be. Can we still be pals? – Val”. The present is a paint-by-numbers set. by the end of the episode, Lily proudly displays her first p-b-n painting. it’s bad, even by paint-by-numbers standards. she calls it “her art”.
(In the episode following & thereafter, that very painting is now hung on the living room wall. hung slightly crooked. in the background, but never mentioned)
Lily is working on her her 23rd p-b-n, it’s about half done. A new painting by val nearby. it’s of some nearly extinct animal (there’s like 50 left or something, we’ll wiki the animal). it’s big & obviously a lot of it was painted w cheap housepaint. val enters, reminds lily she’s got to be done by 3, a “very prestigous” gallery owner is coming by personally to consider val’s piece for the annual “Exotic Because Most of ‘Em are Dead, Thanks to Us!” 100-artist group exhibit. He kind of goes on about how important this is to him personally, what a big opportunity it is, etc. Lily points out spilled housepaint, still wet, on tarp, “Am I suppose to clean that up too?” Val says leave it there, lends character, just set your (whatever the kids use nowadays) alarm. end scene (FADE) Next scene. Lily is in tears, the painting is 3/4th finished and she thinks it looks terrible. (It does.) In frustration, she tosses it to the floor, it skids through the spilled paint, canvas-side down. Val rushes in, “what are you still doing here? It’s 3!” In all the excitement of Val carrying on, Lily spaced setting the alarm. Val picks up now smeared canvas, places it on Lily’s easel, says “sit there & say nothing”.
Gallery Owner comes in. sees val’s work. tells him he’s in, because nobody has submitted a painting of that particular animal yet. (val’s point: it’s one of the most decimated, thus “more exotic” than other animals the gallery owner lists – animals already represented – and of course with each animal mentioned, val replies with the number left. all the other “exotic” animals have bigger estimated populations left than val’s choice does. but, still, he’s very excited he says). G.O. notices Lily. G.O. to Val: “You didn’t tell me you had a student!” to lily:”Wow. Is this painting yours? that’s fabulous. I love with how you paint with your gut!” Loves her “daring” piece, invites her to be one of three select artists in the annual “Raw Undiscovered Talent”-type exhibit. It opens in two weeks, can she do (x number more) by then? (G.O. explains the short deadline as: one of the original three was cut from the exhibit at the last minute, because the artist fatally OD’d on heroin. He died, but that doesn’t matter, “because, dead or alive, we still have a zero tolerance drug policy” the G.O. says).
(stunt casting note: can we try to get Kim Moody to play the G.O. role?)
Seperate episode: Maybe Freeda episode? Lily learns fire spinning. not very good at it, esp. that last spin. very serious thigh burn.
New Scene opens with Lily laying on couch, singed w soot here & there, thigh wrapped in gauze, but you can still see the oozy burning around the thigh wound edges cuz they ran short on gauze. It hints at really bad under there. Roomies debating whether just “serious” or “ER-serious”. Walter says since he collects the rent, the buck stops with him, & wants to call 911. Somebody replies, “Is this a collective, or is this Walter’s trip?” It’s put up to a vote. Poor mans cost/risk analysis because Lily wll get hit with bill. “Let’s wait and see how it looks in the morning.” wins by a landslide. Everybody says goodnight.
Lily crying a little, laying on side (her back facing back of couch), an arm comes gently up thru the back of the cushions, reaches around and hands her a tissue. “Thank you.” Arm soon follows up with fresh-cut aloe vera plant. Man who lives in couch is coaxed out. He brings fresh dressings & wraps. (the wound is cleaned & changed, but that’s never shown.) the gauze being unwrapped, rewrapped, panning down towards the badly burned thigh, each time cutting away to a flashback sequences right before the horror is seen.
The episode mostly consists of two flashback sequences – Lily’s fire practice gone wrong (think: Slapstick! With Fire!) and the Guy in the Couch’s story… he was a new housemate back in the 80s, became the guy in the couch when things looked bad/went wrong, the catch being… “everything you’ll ever desire is inside this couch, but… there can only be one couch guardian at a time & you gotta find your own replacement” This guy agreed to replace the last guy (as seen in flashbacks) who had been in there several decades himself. only the “chosen” can be couch guardian. this couch guy is finally ready to move on, but has to find his replacement first. lily is the next “chosen one” as he sees it, if she wants the position. (she declines, but now it’s an option in the back of her mind.)
FINAL ep. notes:
To make this work, Lily should be established as being very unsure & fragile at the season start, gaining strength & confidence as the season goes on… which is what we’ve planned, but will need to remind viewer. , as writing continues….
also establish (at a couple points throughout) other characters wanting to talk to her about “something important” but circumstances in those episodes interrupt such a talk.
last episode notes… the whole season, and this episode, build up to Lily making a grand speech about how she’s a strong person and has learned to stand on her own two feet. Roomies glad to hear it, and give her big hug long hug. Perhaps they all collapse because it is the end of crazy night and all of them are just dead on their feed. Next scene is them waking up, which was the first scene in the first episode, return of Lily saying what she said earlier but it goes longer and upbeat. Season ends.
OR Lily gets invite to missing boyfriends wedding. Lily feels betrayed… gets angry, packs her one suitcase (now filled to overflowing) and announces she’s leaving… til somebody points out “the buses stop running at 10pm in Phoenix, so how you gonna get to where you’re going?” — Lily decides to spent one last night on the couch…. group hug ends with sleep?
Goal of series:
The Arthouse is a web based sit-com series. There will be 7 to 8 short 3-5 minute films that can stand alone but put together would make one 23 minute episode (which we will refer to as a season.) Normal Television sitcoms run 21 minutes, we will be following the same format (or beats) of a television sitcom, just break the beats up into different 3-5 minute episodes.
Lily: (Female) Protagonist and “fish out of water” of the series. Lily moved into the Arthouse because she and her boyfriend had fallen on hard times and she vaguely knew of the place. In the first episode, Lily’s boyfriend “goes out for a pack of cigarettes” and never comes back. For rest of season Lily is discovering who she is as a person and the contstant stream of weirdness in the House is helping her with this, even if she doesn’t always realize that at the time. Throughout the season Lily will keep a video blog of her speaking to the camera. Lily is fundamentally an upbeat person, who is inclined to laugh at life’s little challenges, but can get very wound up at life’s big ones.
As Lily struggles to “find hereself” seh tags behind one member in house after another.
Next writing step: Figure out how Lily views other main characters, also outline relationship Lily has with other main characters. Should Lily have a sexual tension with another house member, if so who? Perhaps it might be funnier/better (but harder to write) if she has a sexual tension with a different member of the house in every episode?
Walter: (Male) Poet – Philosopher – Cynic- Walter is normally the even-keel force of the house. He is aggressively mellow but not spaced out. His sharp dry-wit plays a role of side-commentary during show. While seemingly very zen, he has own dysfunctions. He is highly unemployable, and happy with selling plasma and jazz CD’s out of his backpack for a living.
Val: (Male or Female) Frantic and offensively prodigious Painter. Speaks, talks, thinks, paints one mile a minute. Val pops in and pops out many scenes and is the most slapstick of all the characters. Val is not good at protecting our people’s space. If Val is talking, they are most likely to be preoccupied only with themselves. Val and Walter are counter forces to each other.
Donnie: (Incredibly Handsome Male) Works as a outbound calls salesperson but is constantly rotating through new jobs and getting fired because he is so bad at sales because of his goofus nature. Donnie is constantly reading books like “7 Habits of Highly Effective people” and on constant frantic mission to better improve himself. A regular bit would be for Donnie to be attempting a never ending series of schemes to make money for the arthouse. Donnie works the doors at events and likes distributing flyers. He can be connection to outside world with his flyering. Donnie enjoys doing things on stage, which as a general rule are just plain awful. Donnie has a rotating cast of beautiful women walking out of his room, many entrances of this man are accompanied by a different woman wandering off from the night before. He is fundamentally good willed and good natured but a little dumb/ However, every now and then he gives a surprising good observation of the human condition. (Donnie and Freeda are counter forces to each other.)
Freeda: (Female) Freeda is committed political activist. She is always coming and going from one rally or another carrying sign that states one absurd political issue after another. She wants house events and shows to carry a deeper message. She cooks on a regular basis as she is concerned about being green. Her cooking could be good anchor point for discussion scenes where whole house is present. When she wins bets with other house members she gets help for the garden. She is extremely militant about her garden, scenes with her in the garden should play like Patton at war.
Relationship Main Characters with each other.
Walter and Freeda argue because Freeda thinks Walter doesn’t care about think and is just a cynic while Walter thinks Freeda is nieve.
Walter, Freeda and Donnie: Both Walter and Freeda think Donnie is nieve, Donnie thinks the two of them are just cynics.
Walter and Val: Walter finds Val’s constant running around highly annoying, Val thinks Walter is a “knot on a log.”
Freed and Val: Freeda likes Val’s energy. Val likes that Freeda feeds him. Val often is doing physical chores for Freeda. They have some very odd not quite sexual tension, but maybe it is.
Val and Donnie: Argue good friends and “get each other.”
House Meetings: House meetings are a regular reoccuring scene. Scene allows for good diaogue, improvisation, and opportunity for characters to express inner thoughts (like facing the camera thoughts in The Office)
Potential Minor characters: Some minor characters can be just “wal throughs” that we see only once and gone, unless they really “stand out” walk through characters can make it more interesting and chaotic in house.
Note: Episode 3 or 4 will serve purpose of introducing several minor characters at once.
The following characters will not appear in every episode.
The Landlord: The house will need one, no? Not sure what voice of this character is yet
Couchperson: Is the narrator for the show. Audience may not know it is narrator till 3rd or so episode. Someone (who is constantly rotating) sleeping on couch or (surreal option) living in couch. If person is living in couch, then series will need other surreal qualities as well. Is surreal needed for such a short time series, would it just complicate storyline? Each episode a different main character has totally bizarre explanation of who is on the couch.
Burrito salesperson: Shows usually late at night when everyone has the muchies. Also is a DJ on nights he or she is not selling burritos. Pleasant going fellow. (3rd episode, saw missing boyfriend at club on multiple nights with multiple different women.)
Lone House Volunteer: Idealist very sunny person who believes the house “has something to offer” and therefore volunteers at the House. Is often abused by House residents. (3rd episode, say missing boyfriend at Local Farmers market with some “hippie chick.”)
Guy who lives in the closet: This is not a metaphor. A guy actually lives in the closet of the house but is rarely seen. Very goth. (3rd episode, say missing boyfriend at laundry mat at 3 in the morning washing men and women’s clothes.) This character can startle Lily on a regular basis, every time he startles her he is doing something ordinary, like cleaning his tooth brush.
Weed dealer: Kind of an obvious character, maybe combine with burriot salesperson?
Guy who fixes the constantly broken espresso machine: The closest thing to a construction worker this crew has got. Very hand with hands. Think host of “This Old House.” (3rd episode, saw missing boyfriend at coffee shop in Chandler wearing a suit.”)
Friend of Freeda: Anarchist, always in rag clothes that are black. Opposite sex of Freeda, has obvious crush on Freeda.
Overriding arch of season:
In episode 1 Lily and her boyfriend move into the house and he leaves for a cigarette. In episode 8, he finally returns but Lily no longer needs him.
Should we continue brainstorming overriding arch of season? What could be arch for other characters?
Breakdown of Season:
This is very rough draft.
Each episode will have two major storylines that compliment and overlap each other. The “A” storyline will revolve around Lily’s relationship with the house or individual house members. The “B” storyline will compliment the theme of the “A” storyline and will involve house members not involved in the “A” storyline
Episode 1: Pilot (Note: We will write this one after writing other episodes first.)
A: Lily and boyfriend move into the House. Boyfriend leaves note that he is going out for pack of cigs and never returns. Lily first deals with being left. Lily and boyfriend have originally moved in because domineering boyfriend wanted to, and now Lily is left alone without resources to move out. Perhaps we don’t ever meet the boyfriend but show starts with Lily reading a note left from boyfriend.
B; Episode introduces other house members and concept of house. Setting the stage.
A: Lily and Freeda. Lily realizes boyfriend is not coming back and goes through “anger” phase. Lily is drawn to freeda because she is attracted to Freeda’s constant talk of “injustice.” Freeda is the domineering one in this relationship. Freeda is happy to have a disciple. Lily is attempting to be independent and fails. She learns that eventhough she still needs people she should count on herself.
B: Walter and Donnie: Walter and Donnie (who are old high school friends) try to teach other, but both want to be the guru and neither wants to be the disciple.
Perhaps minor characters keep seeing boyfriend out and about.
A: Lily and Walter: Lily goes through braganining or self-hatred stage. She decides she needs to make herself “more interesintg” so starts to get seriously into philophoy and follows Wlaters Lead. Lily fials at philophoy because she is just not into it and has to admit this to herself. Walter (like Freeda in previous episode) is happy to have a disciple.
B: Freeda and other house members. Freeda runs garden like a general and teaches other house members how to take care of garden. Donnie decideds to weedwhack and ends up killing garden in one full swoop.
A: Lily and Donnie: Lily continues with “self hatred” and decides to change her look and goes “party till the break of dawn crazy.” She gets a dumb tattoo. Donnie takes her out to paint the town red.
B: Walter (in reaction to Lily and Donnie) trys to lead house on a “path of meditation and enlighten) but one reason other house members are unable to meditate “properly” Walter ends up in rage.
Episode 5 and 6: These episodes are intentionally left blank. We will fill in after writing other episodes and figure out what is missing.
A: Lily and Val: Lily learns acceptance from Val. Lily learns to do what she wants to do and live in the moment. During entire season up to this point Val has been painted as the fool of the house, so it is ironic that at end he turns out to be the wisest one.
Random stuff discussed at meeting.
Are we a British comedy or a US comedy? In British comedy it is OK if the main characters fail over and over again. US comedy has characters “learn something” from their failure. We are leaning to more Brit that US but end of US is definitely upbeat with happy ending for Lily.
Walter and Donnie were best friends in high school. They both wrestled in high school together and Walter doesn’t want people to know this. Confrontation between characters can refer to “what coach use to say.” Donnie wants to be an artist but doesn’t quite get it. Donnie moved in house because times were hard for him and Walter had room available. This explains why Donnie, a “fish out of water” is in the house. Donnie is in a holding pattern that he is trying to escape.
The person living on/in the couch is the narrator for the episode. It might not be until episode 3 that the audience realizes he is the narrator.
Possible add to Episode 2 or 3:
Lily: The breakup. Establish that nothing “bad” like being killed or kidnapped happened to missing boyfriend. Lily beginning to realize boyfriend just left her, maybe for other woman who is better off financially. House members try to chear her up. Each member of house gives there version of advice. Introduction of minor characters episode, minor characters all have seen Lily’s missing boyfriend somewhere that day, maybe they have seen him with various women, but also have seen at various places.
Possible Scenes or storylines for various episodes.
Episodes are meant to be 3-4 minutes and should hold at least 2 -3 if possible, subplots that all meet at the same conclusion/scene, while slightly pushing overall story of season forward.
City wants to make house a “cat santuary.” Freeda does not submit. Or maybe someone in house wants to make it a cat santuary.
The House pet dies, some want to bury it, others do not.
A weird life form has appeared in the dishes.
House meeting and arguments over the 4th of July Gallery Show.
Some like stray-cats, some don’t.
Chicken: Broken chicken coops has chickens wandering around in house during inconvenient moments. Characters “go yellow” or “chicken’ multiple times in episode.
The Election episode: Friend of the house runs for City Viceory and the house pitches in to help the campaign.
Yard: City gives House warning about messy yard. House has to clean up yard. Freed refuses to let the city tell her how to run her garden and organizes a “sit in” to stop house members from cleaning yard.
Gallery opening: Donnie is trying to hang show of a supposedly renowned artist and clearly over his head. House members give stream of advice of how to re-hang show, Donnie re-hanging show during whole episode. Episode ends with showing that the main art piece was obviously upside down for the entire episode during all the manyof hangings. Other subplots involve things being turned upside down. (99 over the 1%, casserole cooked wrong, lots of “role reversals” among characters.) This is a later episode after characters have been clearly established.
Shower Schedule: House member (either Donnie or Freeda) trys to instate a shower schedule for the house. This character insists of only showing up at their appointed time. Multiple scenes of Donnie in shower doing very weird things. A ridiculous amount of semi-empty shampoo bottles has to fall/crush somebody.
$100: House member finds $100 bill in gallery. House decides how to best spend the money.
Dreamscape: House members have series of weird dreams because of gas leak.
Day care: Donnie decides to get house to become a daycare for children. House ends up looking over 5 or 6 children. All the children are little tiny versions of the main characters.
Ghosts: Some house members believe house is haunted. Episode ends with séance to free house of spirit. Maybe Halloween episode? Show ends with “logical reason” house was acting weird, followed by computer generated spirit leaving the house.
Toilet Paper: Someone in house to sick and tired of running out of toilet paper and declares the house do something about it.
A house divided: Members of house “divides” the house in half with ducktape. Members of house in their anger stay on their side, (so two on one side and two on the other side) and 1 member of house (probably Val) keeps crossing sides and is gleefully ignorant of the whole situation. Episode starts with maybe Val being put into a corner of the house.