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SuperScribe
01-25-2010, 10:33 AM
Here's an age-old question I would love to get a definitive answer to:

What should you do if you're minding your own business, merrily working on a script, and a project with a very similar or almost identical premise either goes into production, comes out in theaters or becomes a new series on, say, Fox? (We'll pretend you haven't been keeping up with industry comings and goings.)

Should you smile to yourself, thinking, "Well, at least I'm writing the type of stuff people are buying and making" and move on to another script?

Should you finish that script and try to use it as a writing sample?

One of the reasons I ask is because I've been beaten to the punch on a number of occasions, including on a script that was on the verge of going out. (A collaboration with a friend a few years ago; his agent was going to go wide with it but never did.) And every time it's happened, I've killed the project. Just stopped it cold. Because years ago that's what someone told me to do.

So it trips me out when I see a script like BURIED (which I loved) not only make the Black List, but sell for mad money, attract talent, and get made.

Because, hey, there was episode of CSI that dealt with one of the characters being trapped in a coffin.

Therefore, even if I *did* get the idea to write a script about a guy trapped in a coffin for the duration of the movie, I would never have written it.

Because of the CSI episode.

Am I a fool?

(Yeah, yeah, I know some joker's to come along and say, "You should ask your manager." I probably will. But for now I'm procrastinating, and we haven't had a thread about this in ages, so I'm asking the fine Done Deal community.)

THEUGLYDUCKLING
01-25-2010, 10:40 AM
i hope that you are able to come up with ideas in a specific genre that you went to school for and have trained your mind to do for twenty years, tony? i trust your horror instincts, not only should you trust your own insticts, but this should be a kick THE PANTS (pants on the ground, hat twisted to the side) if you had actually WROTE MORE, during your 'rebellion period', you'd have fresh material.

at this piont tony you should be able to write something good and have a sense for the business because eventually people like you ARE THE PEOPLE who populate the business.

that's the point tony, you are the genre, the aficiando, the person WHO HAS TO BE ABLE TO WRITE stuff or what the hell is USC and UCLA doing... right? confidence is a tricky gambit and don't underestimate it's momentum.

act like the sharp guy you are tony and start trying harder.

VIG

SuperScribe
01-25-2010, 10:51 AM
Yeah, but you have to blend confidence with marketing savvy, right? After all, in the case of the collaboration with my buddy a few years ago, it wasn't I who killed the project -- it was my buddy's agent.

The script itself had a lot of potential as a spec... without the similar film in production.

THEUGLYDUCKLING
01-25-2010, 11:04 AM
at this point you have to try anything, right? you're repped now and if you got something you can finish and make good and it has a familiar spin to something, and that something made money... then wouldn't it be good to have something similiar to the thing that just sold and made money, with a twist? Something ready to go with a little bit of a twisteroo to that nice new idea...

i would write it, you have a audience now. do it tony, it's your precious... my precious...

and btw, when you're right, you're right, your blog sucks. BOING.

Rantanplan
01-25-2010, 11:05 AM
I'd say basically it's impossible to predict the market, a script you're working on now, provided it goes wide and gets optioned, then bought, then made, would take several years to make it to the screen, so by then that show on Fox could be long gone. Plus if HW can come up with two movies about the end of the world via meteorite in one summer, several movies about vampires in a same season etc etc etc, (how many TV shows about vamps right now? how many medical shows? how many cop shows? how many CSI shows?) well, why in the world do we ever think they DON'T want the same stuff over and over? There are always a number of films in development or production in the same sub-genre. Look at GALAHAD and MEDIEVAL and another one about MERLIN I think. Three films set in medieval times, that all got bought around the same time. Doesn't seem to bother anybody that much.

The one thing that would stop me is if I were writing some majorly high concept piece and another script with the same exact premise just sold. That would be a total bummer and a deterrent. But it would have to be the same, not just similar. I.e., if I were the writer of say, GALAHAD, what would stop me is if I read in the trades that another writer had just sold a story about Galahad the Knight that revisited the Arthurian genre and made Lancelot and Guinevere fornicating baddies who murdered a fat pig named Arthur and framed their buddy for the crime...

Other than that, I say write whatever gives you joy and to hell with everybody else, 'cause your take will be infinitely better than theirs anyway, so there :)

cmmora
01-25-2010, 11:08 AM
Other than that, I say write whatever gives you joy and to hell with everybody else, 'cause your take will be infinitely better than theirs anyway, so there :)

:bounce: I suddenly feel better on this rainy Monday.

WritersBlock2010
01-25-2010, 11:44 AM
I'm going to present an alternative to Scribe's question and lament:

How often does parallel development REALLY happen at the spec level?

I mean this in all seriousness.

Sure, at the big studios you are going to see copycats e.g. Armageddon and Deep Impact... But how often does this really happen at the lower levels?

I have had the same experience when I see something right up my alley, I curse myself for not jumping on it (writing it) at the time... But then I move on.

Why?

A, B, C.

Always
Be
Creating

Also, how often does PD happen at the levels where you are in a real position to do anything about it anyway?

Yes, you are repped... But so are the guys and gals at the upper tiers who have much faster turnaround times where they can just sell pitches without even finished scripts because they are established.

I realize, this is not what you are saying, Scribe. But this is another way to look at it, IMO. I think it is a more positive way, too.

I am an optimist, but also a pragmatist. To me, worrying about trying to control something you have no control over is futile because there is always going to be somebody who beats you (us) to the punch in the more established tiers of this biz. Always. But if you accept this, keep working hard, then maybe one day YOU will be the one who beats everybody to the punch, first. :)

THEUGLYDUCKLING
01-25-2010, 11:53 AM
what you need tony, is a posse, you got a posse together and anything is possible.

on a sidenote, only because in tony's theads, any thing's fair game, you can go so far off tangent because there's no boundaries... he established early on there would be no boundaries, in any thread, anywhere, at anytime --

so, okay, back to the posse thing... do posse's ever actually aprehended anyone?

no. it never happens, no posse in the history of posse assembling in any movie, has ever formed a posse and found the people they were chasing. never, it doesn't happen. that's just something we all need to start thinking about.

no possee's/

prescribe22
01-25-2010, 02:42 PM
Go ask your manager.

Seriously, that's what *you* should do, Superscribe.

For all those who don't have that luxury, there's no definitive answer.

It's simply different for every script/situation. Defining parallel development is a little like defining "High Concept".

You're ultimately going to have to make the call on your own. Even if you do have a manager and/or agent advising you.

My advice is to make sure you are 100% in LOVE with whatever concept you pursue as a spec.

If you're worrying about a concept being whored out by others, then maybe you just don't love it all that much??????

Sinnycal
01-25-2010, 02:55 PM
I get killed by this all the time. Back in the mid-70's, I wrote Star Wars. Then Star Wars came out. I was super pissed.

12916studios
01-25-2010, 03:56 PM
Dammit! I was going to start a thread about parallel development but you beat me to it!

ylekot43
01-25-2010, 05:01 PM
Dammit! I was going to start a thread about parallel development but you beat me to it!

did your thread even have the same title?

SuperScribe
01-25-2010, 05:12 PM
:rolling: @ Studios.

Prescribe -

There has to be a definitive answer. Everything in life has a definitive answer.

There must be one! There must be!

/has a breakdown

12916studios
01-25-2010, 05:31 PM
did your thread even have the same title?

No... It was just going to be called "Parallel Development". Tony even had a better title!!! :(

instant_karma
01-25-2010, 05:38 PM
Man, this thread is almost 3 pages long! And it's getting kind of stale.

Think I might re-boot it...

Ulysses
01-25-2010, 07:23 PM
Here's an age-old question I would love to get a definitive answer to:

What should you do if you're minding your own business, merrily working on a script, and a project with a very similar or almost identical premise either goes into production, comes out in theaters or becomes a new series on, say, Fox? (We'll pretend you haven't been keeping up with industry comings and goings.)

Should you smile to yourself, thinking, "Well, at least I'm writing the type of stuff people are buying and making" and move on to another script?

Should you finish that script and try to use it as a writing sample?

One of the reasons I ask is because I've been beaten to the punch on a number of occasions, including on a script that was on the verge of going out. (A collaboration with a friend a few years ago; his agent was going to go wide with it but never did.) And every time it's happened, I've killed the project. Just stopped it cold. Because years ago that's what someone told me to do.

So it trips me out when I see a script like BURIED (which I loved) not only make the Black List, but sell for mad money, attract talent, and get made.

Because, hey, there was episode of CSI that dealt with one of the characters being trapped in a coffin.

Therefore, even if I *did* get the idea to write a script about a guy trapped in a coffin for the duration of the movie, I would never have written it.

Because of the CSI episode.

Am I a fool?

(Yeah, yeah, I know some joker's to come along and say, "You should ask your manager." I probably will. But for now I'm procrastinating, and we haven't had a thread about this in ages, so I'm asking the fine Done Deal community.)

Sometimes movies even about the same character are made, like the two movies about Truman Capote. I watched both, because it actually interested me to get different takes. Unfortunately, only "In Cold Blood" was good. The other one... I can't even remember at what stage I dropped out.

Remember "Deep Impact"? There was another movie with the same premise. "What if a meteor was going to hit earth" had been done countless times, and then, twice more.

Also, some premises are more general and can be interpreted in different ways. Can you count how often the encounter with aliens was done?

It all boils down to how rigorous your voice is. Do you have the guts to tell a story in a really extreme way?

Biohazard
01-26-2010, 11:48 AM
So it trips me out when I see a script like BURIED (which I loved) not only make the Black List, but sell for mad money, attract talent, and get made.

Because, hey, there was episode of CSI that dealt with one of the characters being trapped in a coffin.

Hollywood copies ideas from other movies. If there's a good concept from a TV show that hasn't been done as a film yet, someone WILL do it, and it WILL get made.

Has there been a movie about someone trapped in a coffin for the duration of the story? Not until Buried. That's all H-wood is thinking. Is this idea a movie yet?

At least, that's how I think.

SuperScribe
01-26-2010, 12:52 PM
Ducky and I are going to use The Pupil to leverage ourselves into a position where we can pitch an adaptation of Stephen King's "trapped in a Porta-Potty" short story.

Ulysses
01-26-2010, 01:21 PM
Ducky and I are going to use The Pupil to leverage ourselves into a position where we can pitch an adaptation of Stephen King's "trapped in a Porta-Potty" short story.

Have you ever experienced the embarrassment of watching "Dreamcatcher"?

A guy is trapped on a toilet seat. He doesn't dare to get up, because there's a monster in the toilet and he keeps it trapped by sitting on it.

Most ridiculous scene ever that was meant to be scary.

PS: You knew people were possessed by those alien monsters because the farted, and it stank unbearably. I'm not kidding.

One of the worst movies ever made.

thatcomedian
01-26-2010, 04:55 PM
No... It was just going to be called "Parallel Development". Tony even had a better title!!! :(
Dude, check it out
http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/showthread.php?t=52931
Stormin stole your thread title :mad: or maybe it's just parallel development of parallel development of parallel development.:bowling:

umo
01-26-2010, 05:02 PM
Ducky and I are going to use The Pupil to leverage ourselves into a position where we can pitch an adaptation of Stephen King's "trapped in a Porta-Potty" short story.

Please don't. :|

12916studios
01-26-2010, 06:05 PM
Dude, check it out
http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/showthread.php?t=52931
Stormin stole your thread title :mad: or maybe it's just parallel development of parallel development of parallel development.:bowling:

Yeah, I saw that. He/She totally stole my concept, and the title is just too close to mine. I'm calling my lawyer as we speak.

Ulysses
01-26-2010, 07:24 PM
Yeah, I saw that. He/She totally stole my concept, and the title is just too close to mine. I'm calling my lawyer as we speak.


What are you calling him?

12916studios
01-26-2010, 08:13 PM
What are you calling him?

A dishonest, money-grubbing, turkey-bungler.

That's probably not a good thing given that I get most of my legal advice from my mother. :o

Biohazard
01-26-2010, 09:35 PM
A guy is trapped on a toilet seat. He doesn't dare to get up, because there's a monster in the toilet and he keeps it trapped by sitting on it.

Did you make that up, or is that a real scene from a real movie?

If it's real, my mind is officially blown.

I simply cannot comprehend that so many people involved with a film that contains a scene like that all agreed that nothing was wrong with it.

:shifty:

Ulysses
01-27-2010, 12:16 AM
Did you make that up, or is that a real scene from a real movie?

If it's real, my mind is officially blown.

I simply cannot comprehend that so many people involved with a film that contains a scene like that all agreed that nothing was wrong with it.

:shifty:


Thank you for thinking it possible I could come up with such a scene.

Tomorrow, five AM, your choice of weapons.

;)

wcmartell
01-27-2010, 11:17 PM
Well, I check all of the parallel universes, and see if something similar sold there. Hey, I might be a AVATAR of Parallel Universe #23 (until that guy Jason Statham played in THE ONE comes after me).

If they already have one in parallel universes, I usually try to find out *everything* about the version that sold and then figure out what makes mine different and rewrite accordingly. Or I find something inside my script that is the seed of another high concept and grow that - making the script different.

I did a blog entry about my big rewrite project, and how I have all of these old scripts without high concepts or with ideas used in other films, and I'm trying to twist 'em into something cool and unusual. The one I'm trying to finish up now (reading period on assignment = writing period on specs) was about the President's mistress who gets knocked up and those evil hit squads are trying to kill her and this one guy (probably played by Clive Owen) has to protect her until she pops the kid. Seen that one before? Well, it was an original idea when I wrote it a coupel of decades ago. So, new high concept twist - chick gets knocked up by someone more powerful than the Prez - it's the Second Coming! Jesus 2 - the sequel! And a bunch of demons from hell are coming after her.

Yeah. The problem now is LEGION. But I think I'm different enough, and LEGION sucked so much, that I'll still have a chance.

But find out what makes yours different, the accentuate that... and/or twist it into something different (but still the same basic story).

So, BURIED = guy is on his sailboat, wakes up and the boat is sinking... and he's trapped in the cabin and can not get out. Boat sinks all the way to the bottom and now he has limited air - must find a way out and figure out what happened and who did this to him. We shot a room in our sub slowly filling with water for CRASH DIVE in the old BAYWATCH tank in Venice for pocket change. It's just a pool that fills with water, and you build the set in the pool, then control the water level. Easy & cheap.

Or how about 2001 - Frank's story? You have an astronaut in a space suit drifting away from the ship with limited air - who did this to him? Why? How can he get back to the ship before he runs out of air? That's the pricey version, but would still be kinda cool.

I could go on all day, but you know what your story is and *that's* what needs to be twisted or have the differences amplified *and* needs to focus on YOUR personal elements... your fingerprint in the story.

- Bill