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.


Anonymous said...

Not quite as bad as EMINEM playing the lead role in HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL but close... LOL.


Anonymous said...

what's funny about this is they are planning a Gup sequel since the author wrote one... I guess they must be waiting for Colin Hanks to grow up because Tom says no

David CC Erickson said...

Why don't they just shoot it now and call it "Forrest Stump"!

James Patrick Joyce said...

The Bubba Shrimp Project

Rumors that a ghost has turned from amiable, dimwitted spirit to relentless pursuer of human flesh bring The Gump out of retirement for one last “mission”. He has to reunite Benjamin “Bubba” Buford Blue with his lost Shrimp Boat before Bubba has him some human-shrimp kebabs

Anonymous said...

what if the dude sitting at the bench with forrest turned to him and said "that's an okay story... but here's a really good story! bitch."

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