1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Would this setting make sense for my screenplay on a low budget?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Ryan Elder, Jan 31, 2016.

    For my story, I would like a character to be the target of the villains, cause he knows too much. But he blackmails the villains by having evidence on them, put away in safe place, which will only be made public, should he meet some sort of 'accident', if that makes sense.

    Now since I am writing on a very low budget, I would like to avoid setting it so that the evidence is kept in safe deposit box at a bank. Usually that's how it works, and how the evidence is arranged to be made public, should the owner of the box, dies.

    However, since a bank is expensive too shoot in, and more expensive, to shoot a robbery scene in, where the vault is broken into, I wanted to change it to a self storage facility, in which the storage unit is robbed. That would be much cheaper to shoot on cause the filmmakers can just rent out a storage unit, go in there at night when no one is around and film a the storage unit being robbed.

    Only it's not really being robbed, since we the filmmakers are renting the unit, so we are breaking the locks off our own unit, and it's cheap to film that.

    But after getting feedback from some readers that they said that it doesn't make sense for the character to use a self storage facility, to do a bank's job, and it's just not logical.

    Is their a way write this blackmail scenario, so that a bank does have to be used at all, and it can still make sense to the reader?

    Thanks for the input. I really appreciate it.
     
  2. bdw8
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    bdw8 Member

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    I would think you could make another room seem like a bank... Most cities should have a community center (part of the city, library, or private options in hotels, etc) -- I believe you could rent half of it for a couple of hours for not more than a few hundred dollars. Drive around until you find one that has a good layout at a reasonable price. Move in some fake plants and office chairs, and throw a cloth over a long folding table and prop up some shelves or stained plywood from the local hardware store as dividers. If this scene is sufficiently important that you risk losing the audience, it might be worth the cost.

    Alternatively, aren't there a number of places your character could store this information? Couldn't s/he have it at home, or in the hands of a trusted friend? If s/he doesn't want to involve anyone else, then maybe it's on a home server, and will automatically upload the files at a predefined time -- unless the character logs into the server periodically. You could similarly use a cellphone to text or email the images to a bunch of people at a predefined time, and hide this cellphone wherever (I'd put it in a wall -- it'd take maybe 10 minutes to pop out an electrical outlet, drop the phone behind the wall, and put the outlet back in; no one ever thinks to look inside walls).

    If the protagonist was really devious, s/he'd probably use a tablet instead of a phone (so that someone can't accidentally call it -- a ringing wall would be a dead giveaway of its location). I might even wire an outlet in the wall so that the phone would remain plugged in indefinitely. (Otherwise, figure the battery is going to die in 2-3 days.) Drywall is pretty easy to replace (although I'd recommend doing this in the garage, where you likely don't have to worry about retexturing the wall), and easy to cut through, too. Maybe not as dramatic as robbing a bank, but depending on the situation, something I'd seriously consider if I were in that predicament.

    I suppose the bigger concern is if there is a digital copy (which is so very easy and prudent to make), how could the villain ever be sure that the character won't save a copy to distribute later? Seems to me the villains are about guaranteed to lose, unless they take the character (or someone the character really loves) hostage with threat of torture until they can be sure all digital copies have been accounted for (something you could never really be sure of)... In fact, I don't really see a way out for the character at all... Seems like a no-win situation, unless the villains are taken out by the authorities or our character takes matters into his or her own hands... But, in this situation the villains would indeed bite -- they'd lose for certain if they didn't play along.
     
  3. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    The real hurdle here is not so much about budget etc, it's about how exactly the material is supposed to reach the outside world in the event of his death. Answering that question is going to be how you solve this. After all, the criminals don't really have to fear that evidence is just floating around out there somewhere because unless you know exactly what it is and exactly what it proves and against who and why that matters; a folder of photos (or whatever) really isn't something that anyone cares about.

    I mean, if I found photos of some guys I don't know, even standing over a body, I wouldn't do anything with that. Why? Because I'd assume they were stuff from some indie movie. I might go 'Oh hey that looks super realistic' but I'd have to be CRAZY certain of what I was looking at before I bothered the police with it.

    So what mechanism could you use?

    Well, a lawyer would be a good place to start. You leave a lawyer you trust with the material with instructions to take it to the cops in the event of my death. He's someone with some stature, who can notarize when he received it and the police can't get hold of it unless he gives it to them because it's privileged. He's also part of a firm of lawyers so even if he gets killed the instruction 'Open and take to cops' is going to be carried out by someone. So that's one option. The gangsters need to rob a lawyers office (or house) and physically take ownership of the bag again.

    Alternatively you could try an independent bookie; he has armed guards, a good safe and an ear to the ground and makes his money by not ripping his clients off. Would work ok. Or even an unscrupulous cop who owes him a favor; someone who sees the benefit to putting these guys away but will hold off to protect you. A cop is someone who's typically 'off limits' to gangsters and they'd have to rob his house so from a budget side that would work well.
     
  4. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Yep a lawyer's house could work too. But then the lawyer is a witness who can tell the police who would have likely robbed the house (the guys who the evidence was against), and I don't want any witnesses to lead the police in the right direction. If the villain's kill him they would have to hide the body or something, as long as the witness does not complicate things.

    Okay thanks for the input. Well you see this all the time in fiction where a character will have collateral on the villain and he tells the villain that if he is killed, evidence of the villain's crimes will go to the police. I remember season 5 of 24 had a character who had the same plan.

    So if it's a no win plan, then why do characters do it in fiction?
     
  5. HistoricalScience
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    HistoricalScience Active Member

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    Perhaps these villains or one of them is a stockholder/influential in several banks so the hero doesn't trust any of them. I think he would need an anonymous partner that would surface the evidence on his behalf if he were to die. A storage unit doesn't strike me as the best place either though. I think where your hero stashes it should be reflective of who he is/what he thinks of the villains.
     

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