Paranoia - paranoia - paranoia



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  • #16
    Correct me if I'm wong, sorry, bad pun, wrong (which I often am) but it only costs (relative term) 20.00 to non-WGA members to register your intellectual property. (again, relative term)

    It can include scripts, treatments, synopses, outlines, and written ideas. You don't have to have a completed script to protect it.

    Not a bad idea to register it with WGA, then feel more apt to share your ideas or thoughts on the DD board. It's valid for 5 years. It's a very easy process.

    You feel pretty good when you get the certificate, show it to your buds over beer. They might even buy, thinking you're a big shot.


    • #17
      Here's an interesting quote:

      "The reality in freelancing is that ideas are not copyrightable,"
      laments Frank Free, the National Contract Advisor for the National
      Writers Union.

      This also applies to writing spec scripts.


      • #18
        Re: Here's an interesting quote:

        Other quotes:

        WGA west:
        "Registration provides a dated record of the writer's claim to authorship of a particular literary material. If necessary, a WGA employee may produce the material as evidence if legal or official Guild action is initiated."

        "Does registration take the place of copyright? No."

        "Does registration help in determining writing credits? Generally no. If there is a dispute as to authorship or sequencing of material by date, then registration may be relevant."

        I'm talking registration not copyrighting.

        Probably only a term or series like "Starwars" could be copyrighted.

        Just passing on info. Again, it's a solid 20 dollar investment.



        • #19
          The above diatribe aside, here's my view. This board and its members are a resource. Many of us newer writers can benefit from the advice and criticism available here, but a bit of discretion is advised.

          I felt comfortable putting some pages here because very little of the plot was revealed in those pages. There was no "high concept" given away. By getting reactions from my peers, I was able to improve the work beyond its first draft crudeness and I'm glad I did it.

          An earlier version of the screenplay is registered, so I have some degree of protection.

          I doubt most of us newer writers have much to fear, our stuff just isn't that good yet, but caution is always recommended. Choose wisely what you post in public. If you are not completely comfortable, don't do it.


          • #20
            If we exclude all of the crappy writers from people we're paranoid about (if a crappy writer stole your idea it still wouldn't get sold) and we focus only on good writers...

            We run into a conundrum. Because good writers have good ideas already. Good writing is coming up with the thousands of good little ideas, good choices, different ways to handle scenes we've seen before, etc... and someone with the ability to come up with all of those good ideas can't shut the damned idea spigot off! They're so busy putting buckets under the spigot they don't have time to steal ideas.

            Yesterday I was in a coffee shop with the old laptop. A wannabe writer recognized me and asked if I knew anyone looking for a political thriller with a great idea. He reluctantly told me his idea (it put me to sleep). While I was listening to this never-ending pitch, a woman behind me got a call on her cell phone. She told the person on the other end that she HAD called back several times, always leaving a message on the answering machine. A few times she set up meetings on the answering machine, but the person never showed. It ended up the woman had the phone number wrong and had been leaving all of these detailed personal messages on some strangers machine! She had left times & places where she would be... who knew what this stranger had done with the information?

            Guess which story I stole? The one from the woman behind me. I wondered what it would be like to keep getting wrong number messages on your machine... like Lucy Fletcher's play SORRY WRONG NUMBER.

            While the guy was still pitching his story I thought about SURVIVOR. What would happen if Richard Hatch decided to run for Congress... and other survivors began dying in mysterious accidents? Covering up something they discovered about Richard on the island?

            Then I thought - what if you pitched a "mysterious accident" perfect murder story to a producer - and you had it all worked out so that the character could REALLY get away with murder... and two months after the producer says "Sorry, not what we're looking for" the producer's wife dies under the same "mysterious circumstances" from your pitch? Do you have a career now? Or are you next in line for a "mysterious accident"?

            Eventually the guy finished his pitch... and I wrote down the other three ideas. Real life has more great ideas than any one single person.

            - Bill


            • #21
              Mr. Martell,
              All silliness aside, what you have written I would stand behind 100%, and it echoes somthing else I read out of William Goldmans latest.
              There really are soooooo many good ideas just waiting to be found, you jess gotta know where to look, and when to listen to that little voice inside that says: "Hey dumbass! Pay attention, that could be a great story!! Duh!!"


              • #22
                And this, my friends and neighbours, is why I worship at the altar of WCM. Seriously.


                • #23

                  And HOW true! I'd like to add that I personally am not compelled to steal ideas, because the vast majority of them simply don't cause that "flutter" inside. That feeling of "Ooh, I'd love to write that!" And I'd say that's a huge chunk of the equation...writing stories that excite YOU.



                  P.S. Moses, can you get some fresh air today? It might do you good to go outside.


                  • #24
                    Good going, Moses. You just exemplified the "stereotype" of the wowzer. As they're regularly well-read, yet love to re-write history for their own personal ends (often masquerading them under a thin, cracked veneer of a pseudo-moral platform). And like the best wowzers, you have made nasty little digs cloaked in in a moth-eaten travesty of humourous satire.

                    Better yet, as a shining icon of wowzerhood, you generalized individual opinions stated to New Writer - that you apparently took issue with yet never stated so directly - into one "firing squad". Well done. The Mullet Military will throw you a ticker-tape parade in Santa Cruz.


                    You did choose an Irish angle to make your non-point, so I'll relish this opportunity to tell you something all Irish know: "You can't buy a pint for a ha'penny." Meaning, All I said to New Writer was that he/she would "get what they paid for". So, within the true history (versus your re-write) of the thread you referred to, I did not shoulder a rifle aimed at New Writer. I merely stated that if he/she wanted free "Pro" advice then A: there was a forum in which to post a modicum of their work for critique, and B: if they wished a "Pro" to take time from their bread-and-butter schedule to evaluate their work, with no renumeration, then they had no right to complain about any "terms".

                    With that, I greatly look forward to your next treatise, which shall indubitably be written in the form of a letter addressed to Sylvia Plathe, for which I'm sure you already have a deal with PBS in the works.


                    • #25
                      The Flutter

                      Right! That's the most important thing!

                      YOUR idea may be the greatest thing in the world, but it may not be anything that gets ME excited. And I've got to be excited about the idea to take the time to write it. Writing isn't easy and usually isn't all that fun, so I need to be passionate about whatever I'm writing.

                      You may have read all three of my ideas and got nothing out of them. All are thriller ideas... and the type of thriller ideas that appeal to me. SORRY WRONG ANSWERING MACHINE and PITCH ME A MURDER (just made those titles up) are kind of like STRANGERS ON A TRAIN - a regular guy gets involved in very bad things because of shared guilt. THE LAST SURVIVOR deals with 15 minutes of fame - a theme I've used in lots of scripts (I like characters who were once important and are now complete failures... I can identify with them). I "found" those ideas because I'm looking for ideas that speak to me.

                      Somewhere in a move I lost a bunch of John D. McDonald books, including a short story collection with an introduction about how if you gave 5 writers the same basic idea, all 5 would come up with completely different stories. Because they'd see different aspects of that idea.

                      You might think about the woman who left all of those messages on the wrong machine and think it would make a great romantic comedy. Out of the millions of people in the city, she finds Mr. Right by transposing a phone number. Someone else might think it's a great paranoia thriller - did you ever see the movie MIRACLE MILE where a guy picks up a ringing pay phone - wrong number - but it's a warning that missiles are headed to LA. Or what if the messages were from the aliens who walk among us? Or it was your boss who hit the wrong speed dial button and you discovered your company was in financial trouble? Every one can steal that "wrong answering machine" idea and come up with whatever script speaks to you.

                      - Bill (who once got the last hotel guest's voice mail message)


                      • #26
                        Stories, stories, stories

                        This would go back to what WM said and stories, I guess.
                        I remember one of the finest moments for me in growing as a writer was the night I saw The Sixth Sense. I was floored by what I thought was one of the finest movies made in a hell of a long time. Directed in a pre-mtv style, well written and acted, etc...
                        Anyway, I went to the restroom on my way out, and I was at the urinal, (NO, this is going somewhere, I promise!), and a thought came to me:
                        "I want to go home and write that!"
                        and then, another thought answered:
                        "No, I want to go home and write something THAT GOOD."
                        It was then that I realized that I was on the right road to developing the best stories I could, in my own way, with my own voice behind them.
                        Sorry if this sounds conviluted.


                        • #27
                          Re: The Flutter

                          I 'll tell you about another flutter...

                          WCM, I'm sure you've seen many of the great episodes of the original Twilight Zone. You remember the one about the poor old House-bound widow who kept getting mysterious, disturbing calls at night, from a moaning voice? A voice that complained about being cold and lonely? How she tried to trace the call and the police couldn't help her? Then the voice turned out to be her late husband? Then we find that a recent storm had knocked down a telephone wire that had lain across his grave? Great concept and hook, huh? Yup, so much so that I never forgot it.

                          And got a flutter when I was watching Sci-Fi's "Exposure" series last year. When they showed a little ditty from the 80's.

                          Entitled "The Call".

                          About young woman stuck in a house due to baby-sitting duty. During the night. Who starts getting mysterious, disturbing calls on the phone. From a moaning, pleading voice that complained of being cold, afraid, lonely, and wanting to go home. The voice of a pubescent boy. Freaks her out. The voice complains of viscious, life-threatening child-abuse, and is so pathetic and tugging on the heart-strings that she calls the cops to check it out. They can't locate the call due to an accident with the phone lines. At the climax, we get the "reveal": the accident caused a line to go down. Falling across the grave that bears the name that the boy's voice gave on the phone.

                          But hey, the two women differed in age, and so did the callers, so there couldn't have been any rip-off involved, right?


                          I hope the writer of The Call gets "calls" from Rod Serling's grave for the rest of their life.


                          • #28
                            Re: The Call

                            See, I'd get rid of ther phone line thing. Why not have some guy find his dad's old ham radio in the attic? And there's sun spots, see - not the kind that makes gangs attack police stations, the kind that makes old radio signals get picked up by this old ham radio. And the guy hears moaning on the ham radio - his dead dad! And he tries to solve his dad's murder, and...

                            Oh, never mind.

                            - Bill (Hollywood LOVES Recycling!)


                            • #29
                              Re: The Call

                              How about: the guy hears moaning on the ham radio - it's a complete stranger's dead dad! And then, he tries to solve the murder and, and...will he care long enough to solve it? (what a cliffhanger!) :lol

                              Jacinthe - head of creative recycling


                              • #30
                                Re: The Call

                                More Phoney Stories:

                                Ever read SHATTERDAY by Harlan Ellison? They did it as the first episode of the NEW TWILIGHT ZONE back in the early 80s with Bruce (full head of hair) Willis in the lead. Guy is drunk in a bar, goes to a payphone and accidentally dials his own number...

                                And he answers!

                                - Bill