1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    How can I fix this plot hole?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ryan Elder, May 3, 2015.

    I had some experienced writers read a draft of my screenplay, and they point out how they thought it was a significant plot hole. They said that it is not explained why the main cop character does not call for back up. I wrote so that he does it alone, mostly because of budget. I am writing for a low budget, since I am new.

    But I was told by some, that this is a major problem. However, there are several movies I have seen where this happens.

    What about movies like Celullar (2004) for example, where the cop does not call, and decides to have a look around a house himself? Seven (1995), and Point Break (1991), also had stories where cops did call for back up, once they spotted the villains in the commission of a crime, and decided to go after them and handle it by themselves. Seven when they go to John Doe's apartment. They have a reason for going there by themselves. But once Doe shoots at them, they decide to chase Doe by themselves, without calling for help for the whole chase.

    In Point Break, the two cop partners stake out a bank, themselves on a hunch that it might be robbed. No reason to call for back up, cause it's just a hunch, but once they spot the robbers, they go after them by themselves and still do not call for back up. Why? Heat and Lethal Weapon also do this.

    Is it possible to write a screenplay where people will not complain about the cop not calling for back today? I mentioned those movies to them as examples, but one of them got back to me, and said that he cannot comment on the success of past movies, he just knows what will be believed as oppose to not be. What do you think? How can I write so that the cop just does not call for back up, and it's just not explained, like those movies?
     
  2. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I think a lot of movies and TV shows are kinda dumb for those very reasons.
    People take actions that are either highly irregular/against protocol or they fall into a cliche character like Rambo to explain everything even though, in the real world, this wouldn't hold up.

    I mean.. take ALL of the Fast & Furious movies... None of the premises even make a lick of sense and most scenes would never happen in reality (Like entire stretches of highway absolutely devoid of any traffic near a major city... yeah right)
     
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  3. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Can you reveal anymore about the specific situation?

    Generally I would suggest a police man can not call for back up if:

    1. Radio blackout/broken equipment
    2. Blackmailed/conflicting interests
    3. Has a motive/something to prove
     
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  4. TheWingedFox
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    TheWingedFox Active Member

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    Hmmm, I don't see any issue with this. I mean, cops have procedures, sure. But does even the best cop rigidly follow the procedures 100% all the time? (Well, maybe Judge Dredd..)

    The same thing happened in TV show Gotham recently too (Ep. 6 "Spirit of the Goat")
    where the older cop chastises the younger Commissioner Gordon for not calling for back up, because he'd done it years before with tragic consequences.

    Maybe the criticism was due to it being a cliche?

    Is there a reason for it? Could a plausible reason be written in? The radio is broken....there is an urgent need to act (screaming, fire, risk of flight)...the cop is of that character...?
     
  5. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    As much as I'm not a fan of F&F, and only seen the first movie, they must be doing something right? More sequels than Star Wars to date.
     
  6. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Just cause they're popular, which isn't saying much.. Honey Boo boo was popular!, doesn't mean they make sense.
    It's not an argument between whether its good or not, it's whether logic really matters that much to an audience when it comes to a visual medium.
     
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  7. TheWingedFox
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    TheWingedFox Active Member

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    Anyway, the merits of F&F aside, did these 'experienced writers' offer any advice on said issue....? Or do you think they may just be being pedantic?
     
  8. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. They haven't offered any advice yet, they just said that I need to come up with reasons to fill the holes, so far. It didn't come off as padantic though, just letting me know what they thought was wrong.

    Well in my script it happens in three instances. The first one is, is that a cop has a hunch he wants to follow up on. He and another cop follow up on it, and they find a kidnapping in progress, and the crooks flee. One cop stays with the victim, one goes after the perps. They call back up at this point, but not before. I figured since maybe it was a mere hunch they would check it out first, before calling, but I was told that they would call before checking it out, and it's illogical therefore.

    The second situation is an undercover situation. A fight and chase breaks out in an undercover scenario and some shots are fired. The undercover cop does not want to call for back up though, because if he does, the case will be ruined, and he cannot progress further into keeping his cover going and dive deeper into it. But I was told that a cop would not risk his life that much just to prove a case, and would still call for back up, even if it means the case being botched.

    The third scenario is, is that the main cop wants revenge and wants to get proof on the villains, after they kill someone. He decides to do some computer hacking (which is illegal of course), and finds out some info, where the Macguffin (Macguffin, as in the key phyiscal object, everyone wants. In this case the evidence he needs), of the story is being held. He decides to go to the residence where it might be and he breaks and enters. Now he cannot use the Macguffin as legal evidence since he broke and entered in, but he can create a scenario in which the cops will find accidently, and it then can be used. However, after acquiring the Macguffin, he is caught, and has to shoot his way and run away. During the hide and seek chase, he does not call for back up. His reason being... well perhaps I am stuck on this one.

    Are their any ways I can write it so that the cops do not call for back up in any of these three scenario types?
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2015
  9. TheWingedFox
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    TheWingedFox Active Member

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    I just found these forum posts below (underlined) from a site called realpolice.net. As these are actual cops statements, I think you can see that it does happen. Remember, the criticism seems to be that it is not explained. Can you just offer an explanation? I could imagine that captains advise their troops (off the record) that due to cutbacks, it's preferable not to call for backup as everyone is busy!

    Backup is the kind of thing that you want everytime you need it not everytime you make a stop or go on a call although that would be ideal it is not practical at least for smaller departments.


    Sometimes the nearest backup was about 50 miles away and usually busy doing their own thing. And I worked solo on open highways regularly. The public expected me to do a job and I responded to the call. If that meant getting into a bad situation then so be it. My training always let me know when it was getting bad and my self preservation always got me out before I was too far in.

    In my department, calling for back-up is generally a serious thing and not to be said lightly. Asking for back up usually means that the sh** is about to, or already has, hit the fan. The station will empty out, and every available officer will be busting their *** to get to you quickly. Even officers in the middle of something will drop what they are doing to hurry towards your location. Officers have been known to be hurt and even killed on their way to a back up request, so I won't utter those words unless the circumstances warrant it.

    My back up may be several minutes away(10 to 20), so I might be all there is. Most of my partners listen to the radio and know my voice... If I sound upset on the radio they are coming, no need to call. I use my common sense to try and defuse the situation rather than call for back up everytime, but if I need it you can bet your bottom dollar I will not hesitate to call for it.
     
  10. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. I can write so that he calls for back up, but it's not available. Do you think it will come off as cliched though, since other movies have done it? However, I will not be able to use that excuse three times though, without it coming off as repetitive?
     
  11. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    So I would say, that I'd agree with the feedback. Not calling for back up on 3 separate occasions does seem a little far fetched to me. However, each situation on its own, feels acceptable.

    In the first: call in the hunch, since it is a hunch, the hq would probably give the ok and say keep us updated, without feeling the need to send backup. The officer who stays behind can then call for back up when the action begins, but by the time back up arrives, the event may have happened.

    The second situation perhaps just needs a stronger outline of the officers motives, prior to the stake out. Why does this case mean so much to him? Parallels to another case that went wrong? Family involved etc

    The third situation, I'd go for something dramatic, like, he wants to call for back up as he is outnumbered, but in the shoot out he is shot, and his radio saves his life, catching the bullet, but stops it from working. It adds to the tension of the scene and gives impression that the officer is helpless.
     
  12. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. The first one will probably work the way you described.

    In the second situation, the reason why the cop does not call for back up, is because the person he is trying to gather evidence on, while working under, has been subpoenaed to testify in another case, which is also connected, the next day. The cop figures that if I don't call for back up, and keep my cover, then I can wait till tomorrow, until the person is called to testify in court. That way I can present evidence to the court, during his cross examination and we can get him there. Killing two birds with one stone, so to speak, on both cases. Other wise the trial may be delayed if I call the cops, and the villain may have time to cook up a new scheme in the process. That's the reason if it could work.

    The third situation is more tricky I think. Before he goes to break into the place to get the evidence, there is situation where he if following the gang of crooks around, and as he is surveying them on his one, without permission, he sees the crooks argue and become very panicked. They then all run and get in their cars and speed off. He follows them to where they are going, but since they are acting panicked and act like that something really illegal is going to go down soon, would he then naturally call 911 and report it? I wrote it so that he doesn't so that he is still on his own, cause then once he follows them to the destination he then breaks in and takes the evidence. But is that illogical, that he did not call since the crooks are acting like they need to hurry to a place real fast? I was told it was, but what do you think?
     
  13. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    "How can I fix this plot hole?"

    Do what Lost did and stick a cork in it.
     
  14. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    From what you've said, I'd find it hard to believe he hasn't called for back up. I read a book, that was a thriller, and it was well written, and well paced, a real page turner, but the whole time I was reading it, I thought to myself 'why did he not call the cops at any stage?' It ruined the whole book for me, and rather than recommend it to friends, I forgot all about it.

    I think you do need a very good reason why not to call for back up. Perhaps your mc spots his partner with the criminals, all of a sudden he doesn't know who he can trust, and restrains the urge to call it in.

    Maybe he calls it in, and police hq call the partner who says it is a false alarm, then the partner and criminals panic and run off, knowing the mc is on to them.

    Maybe he refrains from calling for back up, because earlier there was a boy who cried wolf moment, when the mc called for back up and it wasted a lot of resources over nothing.
     
  15. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. But what does the partner have to do with it? All he sees is the crooks panicking and drive off. I don't think I could write it so that the partner would be there with the criminals and have it make sense.

    I could write it so that he is already at the location and does not follow the crooks there. Rather the crooks panic, drive there, and find him breaking in, but I find this less exciting, as oppose to him following them there, because if he is already there, audiences will be able to guess where it is going sooner, and it could be more predictable as to what will happen, even if only for a couple of minutes.

    What about movies like Lethal Weapon? In that movie Murtaugh's daughter is kidnapped, and him and his partner, decide to handle the whole thing themselves, rather than call for back up? That was a hit movie, and it never really bothered me, until you it bothers everyone else. How did that movie make it work?
     
  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If it's realism you're after, have you considered asking if an actual policeman might be willing to comment on this, give you an interview for research's sake? Then do whatever you need according to their answer.

    As for bypassing the call for backup - broken equipment works, maybe it's out of battery, maybe he drops it into the gutter by accident lol. Or have him call for backup and simply have the backup be "on its way". Just cus it's called doesn't mean it has to arrive on time for the main event :p
     
  17. ToeKneeBlack
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    Maybe he doesn't call for backup because the bad guy shot his radio?
     
  18. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    I was just offering solutions, there is no right or wrong answer, only what you want out of the story. I don't watch films like lethal weapon so can not comment on it. If you want to keep it simple, then just have the mc tell his partner, "no backup, we do this ourselves" at least it shows the mc makes a call on it, rather than just the author 'forgetting' it for plot convenience. The reader then can judge the mc for being brave or stupid, but not judge the author for lack of believability.
     
  19. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    You are missing the entire point of the franchise. It's not meant to be realistic, and no one takes it as realistic; it's meant to be ridiculous and fun--just like every action movie out there. They very much on purpose go crazier and crazier with each sequel. Same with Rambo--no one is watching that for some realism.


    However, I will agree there is a countless amount of TV shows that are trying to be realistic that just flat aren't--any number of police and fire department and hospital procedural shows fail at this.
     
  20. A.M.P.
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    Exactly, I think most audience members would buy it or not think about or realize their was an issue as they were preoccupied with watching.
     

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