New Ideas

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  • New Ideas

    Sequel to epic thread "PICKING RIGHT IDEA" which is about choosing a great idea from your list and other fun things like that....

    This thread is more about the creative process of finding NEW ideas in the first place.

    I have many things I do -- mostly it's just me living life and I hear something, read something or my wife says something and I'm like "what if that was a movie?"

    Some people might be more direct and think "I want to write a romantic comedy" or they watch a movie they love and go "I want to write my version of Aliens."

    So curious how your mind works.

  • #2
    Re: New Ideas

    My friend recently inherited four properties from her mother, who passed away in January. One of the things my friend's mother tried to do as she was in the last stages of cancer was evict one of her tenants from her properties.

    But my friend dropped the ball on filing the paperwork in the right way with the lawyer and my friend's mother (who was a seasoned real estate agent and property manager) succumbed to her illness before she could finish the eviction.

    And then the pandemic hit. The lawyers told my friend there was now a moratorium on evictions, so she's basically stuck with the tenant her mother was trying to evict.

    My friend lives in the main house. The second house is rented to a nice couple. There's another building that has a studio apartment -- rented to a nice guy who uses the place as a crash pad when he's in LA doing studio work. (He's a sound guy who does audio for live events.) And then there is the two-bedroom apartment above him inhabited by a hermitic woman who appears crazy.

    Right after my friend's mother died, she left her house early in the morning and she caught the hermitic woman standing behind a bush eating from a bag of Goldfish crackers, seemingly spying on her. The woman realized she'd been spotted and ran off with her crackers. She has caught the woman other times scurrying off into the alleyway with her crackers.

    Part of settling the estate is doing estimates on the properties, so my friend gave the tenant 24 hours notice and told her their would be an appraiser doing a walk through of her apartment. When my friend went over with the appraiser, the woman wouldn't let them in. She cracked the door, said she was ill. The place looked completely dark inside, no light. A dog barked behind her. (She's not allowed to have a pet, according to the lease.)

    Next to her front door, there was a trashcan filled with empty Goldfish cracker bags.

    My friend didn't push it, even though legally she had a right to entry. She took the appraiser down to the garage for the apartment and they went inside that. The woman's car was there, tires flat. The registration sticker, three years out of date. Obviously the car hasn't been driven in some time.

    My friend asked me to look up this woman. She gave me her name and address. From this I found out the woman is a gynecologist. She's in her late 50s. Her medical license in the state of CA is current, and I found a medical practice where it says she works. But when I called the office, they curtly told me she no longer works there.

    Something is not right. I told my friend it feels like the beginning of a horror movie. Or a piece of a horror movie. I just don't know what the story could be, but it's odd.

    This is the kind of situation that goes in my idea file. I probably won't do anything with it, but I do note these sort of strange, real-life moments.

    There's more to the situation than just this.

    -- My friend's mother was adamant about getting the woman out before she died. "We have to evict her now, or you'll never get rid of her." It was her end-of-life goal, and she failed to achieve it. (Did her mother know more about this woman than she told my friend?)
    -- I kept telling my friend last fall that the way to get someone out (in San Francisco) is to offer them $20-30k to move and do a buyout. My friend said, "No. Why should I pay her that kind of money? She's just a renter." Well, that cheapness will probably cost her ten times the buyout amount in the long run.
    -- Last fall she stopped paying rent for a couple of months. The basis of the first eviction attempt was for not paying rent. Out of the blue, the woman's ex-husband sends a cashier's check for the back rent and says he'll pay the rent going forward. My friend didn't cash the check, but she didn't return it to the sender within three days, which constitutes acceptance of rent. So that is the technical reason they couldn't move forward with that particular eviction attempt.
    -- My friend called the ex-husband and told him that she was worried about the woman's mental health. He said, in a panic: "You can't move her. It's against the law. She's staying there."

    It's not against the law to do an owner move in. It's not against the law to evict someone who doesn't conform to the least agreement, with the not allowed dog (a pit bull, of course), and repeatedly not paying rent.

    But what's up here? Why is he so motivated to keep her there, to the point where he's paying his EX-WIFE's rent?

    This woman has adult children who are grown up and functioning. Where are they? Why don't they care?

    -- The sound guy who rents the studio under the hermetic woman told my friend that the plumber who fixed some issues a couple of years ago when the lady's plumbing was leaking into his studio actually entered the woman's apartment. The plumber told the guy that the lady's apartment looks like an episode of Hoarders.

    Anyway, the pandemic hit and now my friend is stuck with her.

    My friend has this free-floating anxiety that one day the woman will accidentally start a fire in her cluttered apartment and burn all the buildings down. That is her biggest fear. I told her my biggest fear is that the woman will die and no one will know she's dead for weeks. Or, she'll do something more active and violent.

    I think of movies like Pacific Heights (where they're stuck with a tenant they can't evict) and House of Sand and Fog (which ends in the death of a landlord). I really don't know if there is any movie or story here.

    Maybe it's more of a small, non-fiction article about who is responsible for a mentally ill person in these crazy times -- the family, the state or the landlord who can't evict her?

    I don't know.
    Last edited by lostfootage; 08-08-2020, 11:41 AM. Reason: Misspellings

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    • #3
      Re: New Ideas

      lostfootage - It's a strong premise that certainly has potential, but it'll need reworking (and an ending of your own sinister devising) to make a movie. The part about losing her job as a gynaecologist suggests some delightful horror movie material.

      EVICTION
      Horror
      When a sexy law student inherits a spooky apartment block, one reclusive tenant's weird behaviour may not merely be the senility of a little old lady.

      Evicting a witch is, quite literally, a bloody nightmare.
      Last edited by Crayon; 08-08-2020, 12:29 PM. Reason: add pitch
      Know this: I'm a lazy amateur, so trust not a word what I write.
      "The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never." ~ Oscar Wilde

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: New Ideas

        Originally posted by Crayon View Post
        lostfootage - It's a strong premise that certainly has potential, but it'll need reworking (and an ending of your own sinister devising) to make a movie. The part about losing her job as a gynaecologist suggests some delightful horror movie material.

        EVICTION
        Horror
        When a sexy law student inherits a spooky apartment block, one reclusive tenant's weird behaviour may not merely be the senility of a little old lady.

        Evicting a witch is, quite literally, a bloody nightmare.
        Thank you, I love where you took this.

        For me with the real-world situations I witness, the part I've had trouble with in the past is taking the real life facts and heightening them into something more compelling and fictional. Definitely the fact that she's a gynecologist could lead to some sort of diabolical story.

        I do think there is something sinister about the situation. If she were just a dotty old lady, my friend's mother wouldn't have been so panicked about evicting her -- my friend technically doesn't need the rent money, she's worried about liability for bigger problems -- and the ex-husband wouldn't be paying her rent.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: New Ideas

          That was a fun read lostfootage.

          If you wanted to subvert expectations, make the strange old lady a force of good.

          Your friends mother was cursed, and your friend has now inherited that curse. She starts getting terrifying visitations, and the old lady, a shaman who was trying to help the mother, is now her only hope to overcome the curse. Whether she succeeds depends on the ending you want.

          Paranormal Activity meets Drag Me to Hell, could be fun.

          Bono for ideas it’s usually something I see or hear that triggers an idea. The idea is usually only tangentially related to what I saw, and then I try to work through whether there’s a full story there.

          Most ideas when expanded into a story aren’t good enough, so I’ve found it helpful to run them through a mental checklist before committing any time and energy to them.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: New Ideas

            The short of it is, I don't wait around to be struck by an idea. I actively seek them out. Once I settle on one, I typically realize it's some topic or theme I've already been thinking about for months, or even years.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: New Ideas

              Where I used to live, inland on the eastern seaboard, a significant portion of the population engaged in an activity I thought ludicrous. Each time I saw any type of advertisement for their activities, it made me chuckle at the thought of the type of personality it would take to engage in that childish behavior as adults.

              Later, I agreed to create a short documentary to aid a non-profit organization in their efforts to raise funds for their pet project. It was then those people whom I felt engaged in their ridiculous activity I needed for the documentary to represent that segment of the local populace.

              After my recorded interviews with them, I assembled the footage as a rough cut in my Avid Media Composer. I bemusedly asked myself the famous “What if...?” question as it related to those people’s pastime. It was then the idea for a screen story struck me like a lightning bolt.
              Last edited by TigerFang; 08-09-2020, 05:41 AM.
              "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

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              • #8
                Re: New Ideas

                I get a core idea - hear something, read something, see something, occasionally dream something, bend it into a new shape. That's almost never enough so I might jot down a few notes in dropbox. Then it's filed in the deep recesses of my brain. At that stage it'll sit there in the darkness until I can Dr Moreau it with another two ideas and the protag. That might take a week, might take a year and I guess some are still fermenting. Until I can combine those four things I have nothing...
                I heard the starting gun


                sigpic

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                • #9
                  Re: New Ideas

                  Wow I do not think like so many of you -- but that's what makes us interesting. To me it's more me stealing from my own life and the life of my friends and neighbors. A friend tells me a story about their co-worker and I'm off to the races. The neighbor asks me to give him a box so he could mail his own sh%t to someone he hates (true story) and I'm like, well that's good for something in a crazy comedy.

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                  • #10
                    Re: New Ideas

                    I assume I get my ideas like everyone else. A magic wizard randomly appears from a puff of pink smoke and hands me movie concepts on post it notes.

                    Seriously, I get my story ideas by thinking about how I can add new wrinkles to my writing style and the world of screenwriting as a whole in the form of new takes on structure, character archetypes, tropes, and genre.

                    Example, I'll think, I want to write a comedy that has four separate character storylines that eventually begin to intersect at a single event, then the perspective shifts will fill in the gaps in the other character's stories.

                    Then I construct a story around that.

                    Or I'll say, I want to write a screenplay where half the events of the story occur offscreen, but are hinted at in a way that astute audience members can deduce what's going on behind the scenes, or they can re-watch it a second time a perceive the story entirely differently now that they have the context to look out for those hints at the other half of the story.

                    Then I construct a story around that.

                    Or I ask myself what if circumstances make a character archetype that is always the antagonist in other movies the protagonist's sole ally in my movie.

                    And so on.

                    I suppose I always have concepts or situations that aren't inspired by anything in particular that I've plucked from the ether and jotted down in a notebook, but they're usually pretty abstract and are secondary items that are used to inform the writing style I've chosen for my next piece.

                    So, to sum it up, I kind of do things backwards. I decide how I'm going to write the script, then I structure a story around it as opposed to coming up with a story, then figuring out how I'm going to write it.

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                    • #11
                      Re: New Ideas

                      Originally posted by Prezzy View Post
                      I suppose I always have concepts or situations that aren't inspired by anything in particular that I've plucked from the ether and jotted down in a notebook, but they're usually pretty abstract and are secondary items that are used to inform the writing style I've chosen for my next piece.

                      So, to sum it up, I kind of do things backwards. I decide how I'm going to write the script, then I structure a story around it as opposed to coming up with a story, then figuring out how I'm going to write it.
                      That's really interesting.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: New Ideas

                        Originally posted by Bono View Post
                        Sequel to epic thread "PICKING RIGHT IDEA" which is about choosing a great idea from your list and other fun things like that....

                        This thread is more about the creative process of finding NEW ideas in the first place.

                        I have many things I do -- mostly it's just me living life and I hear something, read something or my wife says something and I'm like "what if that was a movie?"

                        Some people might be more direct and think "I want to write a romantic comedy" or they watch a movie they love and go "I want to write my version of Aliens."

                        So curious how your mind works.
                        In this moment, with events in this country being stranger than fiction -- at least for me -- I find myself blocked on new ideas.

                        I do force myself to work on my writing in progress but I find myself losing interest due to the happenings all around us in real life.

                        It's affecting my day job writing as well. I've been dragging my feet on a current project for the same reasons. A project I should get back to now. Instead I'm here looking for distractions.
                        Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: New Ideas

                          I see something like this...

                          https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4457712...FFTLCY7ScnH%2F

                          And I think that's a movie idea in some way. So I'll put it on my list and then probably never get to it as I realize it's just a short film or a scene in another movie.

                          But there was a movie CAREER OPPORTUNITIES about spending a whole night in a Target and I loved that movie and think of many ideas like it.

                          And I love video stores.

                          So I can write an entire movie based on this idea. But since I saw it on twitter, that means 10000 writers saw it as well... so that's a disadvantage...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: New Ideas

                            Originally posted by sc111 View Post
                            In this moment, with events in this country being stranger than fiction -- at least for me -- I find myself blocked on new ideas.

                            I do force myself to work on my writing in progress but I find myself losing interest due to the happenings all around us in real life.

                            It's affecting my day job writing as well. I've been dragging my feet on a current project for the same reasons. A project I should get back to now. Instead I'm here looking for distractions.
                            Same here. Been writing same script for a long time so it worked out as it was pre end of the world so I'm not thinking of new ideas. You're not alone.

                            Often I feel better when I write in general. And in my comedy specs there is no pandemic and it's glorious.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: New Ideas

                              Originally posted by Bono View Post
                              Same here. Been writing same script for a long time so it worked out as it was pre end of the world so I'm not thinking of new ideas. You're not alone.

                              Often I feel better when I write in general. And in my comedy specs there is no pandemic and it's glorious.
                              Well, it's good to hear I'm not alone.
                              Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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