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Old 01-25-2010, 11:33 AM   #1
SuperScribe
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Default *The* thread about parallel development

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.)
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Old 01-25-2010, 11:40 AM   #2
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Default Re: *The* thread about parallel development

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
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Old 01-25-2010, 11:51 AM   #3
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Default Re: *The* thread about parallel development

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.
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Old 01-25-2010, 12:04 PM   #4
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Default Re: *The* thread about parallel development

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.
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Old 01-25-2010, 12:05 PM   #5
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Default Re: *The* thread about parallel development

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
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Old 01-25-2010, 12:08 PM   #6
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Default Re: *The* thread about parallel development

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rantanplan View Post
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
I suddenly feel better on this rainy Monday.
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Old 01-25-2010, 12:44 PM   #7
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Default Re: *The* thread about parallel development

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.
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Old 01-25-2010, 12:53 PM   #8
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Default Re: *The* thread about parallel development

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/
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Old 01-25-2010, 03:42 PM   #9
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Default Re: *The* thread about parallel development

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??????
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Old 01-25-2010, 03:55 PM   #10
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Default Re: *The* thread about parallel development

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.
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