Saturday, May 12, 2007

Bad Ideas... Part 2 - Send In The Army

My friend Kris and I used to try to come up with the worst movie ideas we could think of. It was a game we played, and a great challenge. Often this game was played while standing in line for the latest Hollywood blockbuster. Anyone can come up with a bad idea, but we were creative people - writers - so the challenge was to come up with the worst movie idea possible. So bad, the idea itself was funny. "Two cops - one who lives by the rules, one who is Knute that cute little polar bear cub..." We'd laugh...

And then scream in terror as the next week there would be a big money spec sale in the trades with that same bad idea. Sometimes, it was just a pitch - they bought the bad idea itself - no clever script to make up for it! It never failed - the worst thing we could come up with would end up selling the next week. And these ideas were just stupid.

After a while we realized that the worst idea we could come up with might sell to someone unable to know good from bad... and Hollywood has many of those people.

Now the game was to come up with the stupid idea and see how long it took for someone to sell that same stupid idea for more money than we were making writing scripts.

Almost 10 years ago I was in charge of Script Magazine's website. I wrote some original articles and built a bookstore and all kinds of other dumb things. This was before Script Secrets - when my website was still hosted by Compuserve Homepages and I had a limited number of pages I could put up - I used to remove some pages so that I could add others. But Script Mag's site was wide open - so I created a book store and posted articles and set up a message board. To get people to go on the message boards I created all kinds of games, including Pitch Me A Winner and Frankenscript. Both of those games ended up being transfered to Script Secrets when I launched the site in 2000.

Pitch Me A Winner was a game about coming up with stupid movie ideas. I'd make up some typical Hollywood scenario - Steven Seagal wants to star in a romantic comedy - and people would do a 3-5 sentence logline kind of thing for the movie. The most absurd synopsis won.

I would always come up with one or two examples to kick things off. Here is an actual example from a decade ago....


They always make sequels to "Die Hard", "Terminator" and "Batman" type movies, but when a film like "Forest Gump" breaks all box office records, no one makes a sequel. Your mission should you decide to accept it: Pitch a sure fire $300 million grossing sequel to "Forest Gump" in 75 words or less (including title).


Four desperate men lead by simple minded truck driver Forest Gump accept a dangerous mission transporting trucks filled with unstable explosives across the jungles of South America. We explore their relationships with each other, and with their pasts, as they drive across rotting wood bridges and unpaved roads. "Life is like a box of sweating dynamite," Forest says, "you never know which stick is going to explode."

Forest Gump infiltrates an international ping pong tournament on the island of evil Dr. Han. There he uncovers Dr. Han's scheme to create an army of ping pong players and take over the world. Now Gump, aided by fellow ping-pongers John Saxon and Jim Kelly, must win the tournament and stop Dr. Han's plans for world domination through table tennis!


Now, both are just bad ideas. Silly. Stupid. But one of them has since been made into a film that will be released this summer. And I had nothing to do with it (as far as I know). Who would think of spending millions on a movie that combines ENTER THE DRAGON and table tennis?

Someone in Hollywood.

Does BALLS OF FURY mean there's hope for WAGES OF GUMP?

So, when you come up with those really stupid ideas, don't throw them away....

Think about writing them.

- Bill

PS: This game was cut & pasted from Script's message boards to mine in March of 2001. The time stamp is still on the post on my message boards. Scripts boards have since been replaced, so I can't give you an exact date when it was posted over there.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bad Ideas... or Blockbuster?

Over on Alligators In A Helicopter, Scott did a post about a vivid dream he had where he had written a script called CHIMP OR CHAMP. No story, just the title. He woke up in a cold sweat screaming.

I thought CHIMP OR CHAMP sounded funny, and posted this pitch... but (unlike me) he posts every danged day and my reply is buried. So I'm ressurecting it here.


It's about this down and out chimp - he could have been somebody, but he's a chimp. We'll give him a love intrest - Jessica Alba - and a rival... Clint Eastwood. They used to be partners, but when Eastwood became a street boxing sensation, he dumped his hairy friends.

Now, the cool part about Clint is that we can use old footage from those monkey movies as flashbacks - the way they did with Terrance Stamp. Yeah, yeah, the Stamp movie floppoed, but it had a great idea.

Okay, now Oscar De la Hoya or Mayweather (whoever wins tonight) decides to challenge someone from the street - but not just anyone: they want to be assured of the World Champion Title, and because that monkey in Vienna (Haisl) is in court to prove he's a person, the champ is afraid his title may be invalid if he doesn't include primates.

So, our Chimp ends up selected to fight him... and, now wait for it, he has to reconnect with an older Eastwood who now owns a boxing gym and beg for help training.

Eastwood wants him out, but his pal Morgan Freeman secretly trains the chimp. When Clint discovers this, he and Freeman get into a death match fight in a steel cage! Clint wins, killing Freeman, and goes on to train the chimp to become a champion-level boxer.

But can he go 10 rounds with the champ? They go to the big fight on Klan's Island. The chimp takes a beating, but stays on his feet. He doesn't win, but he stays on his feet. And at the end... Jessica Alba comes running into the ring to kiss him and confess that she loves him!

It'll make millions!

- Bill
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