Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Most screenwriters will experience this at least once, and if the writing gods hate you it may happen frequently. It's when you find out that your prized script, your high concept masterpiece, your closely guarded return to originality, is in fact set be released as someone else's movie within a couple years. It's a pretty sucky feeling on a few different levels. For one, you're not as smart as you thought you were. When you were first telling those in your closest circle about your killer idea like a bunch of thieves going over the perfect heist, somebody else was banging out draft two of the same idea and stealing your gem. Secondly, the stock in your idea has just taken a big hit. You've just spent a year or more on your idea, confident that it will be a hot product when complete. Now it's tough to gauge just how valuable your high value project is. Thirdly, for whatever reason, someone else out there can get it done and you can not. They're either more connected, more talented, luckier, or sleeping with the person you can't sleep with. Maybe it's all of the above. Whatever the reason, things are falling in place in one of the toughest industries for them, not you.
Maybe I'm being too bitter. Maybe I still feel the sting from the other night when I discovered that a movie is being released in the near future that makes my "unique" idea less unique. I still think my concept is better, as I feel most writers do when they see their idea turn up elsewhere. I'm not too worried, I suppose. I'm young, and hopefully the other bastard writer is old and dying of cancer. Sorry, that was mean. But I am starting to feel better. This blogging stuff isn't so bad, kind of like a virtual punching bag. Too bad I'm only getting fatter as I sit here.
I haven't returned to my idea yet since finding out about the other movie. A part of me is ashamed of the confrontation, like a father approaching his teenage daughter after she got knocked up. But what are you gonna do? It happened, so I guess I just need to bang through my script, hopefully with the same enthusiasm that I had before. Maybe the rival idea will fail as a movie and my script will be poised to step in as the product the other movie should have been. Although, there is something about that situation that feels like sloppy seconds. Whatever, it's Hollywood and I'm an aspiring screenwriter. Sloppy seconds, tainted thirds, and funky fourths are all welcomed at this early stage.
I'm curious as to how other writers react when their idea shows up elsewhere. I'm not talking about a blatant rip off. I don't believe it's so much that as it is there just not really being many truly unique ideas left. I'm going to move forward telling myself that every script I write is already an embryo in several writers' heads. Some will mature at different rates, but that will largely depend on the writer. If my babies are never really my own, then complacency is never an option. It's time to whip these scripts into shape and start shattering the hearts of other writers who thought they had the big idea.