I am ever on the lookout for new ideas to turn into highly lucrative screenwritage.
I have my little notebook. I jot down ideas. I posit all manner of big-budget “What if’s…”
So what happens when real life starts trumping my imagination?
I am cruising the net the other day and there it is, the headline that ate my brain:
“Woman Gets 16 Year Old’s Heart, Starts Acting Like A Teenager”
The story went on to describe just that. Somewhere in England (a lot of these stories tend to come from England) a woman got a heart transplant. The donor was a teenager. And now the woman can’t stop eating pizza, finds herself texting her friends (OMG!), and presumably spends a lot of time laying on the couch, watching TV, and saying “There’s nothing to doooooo…”
What a great idea for a movie I thought, then realized, I’m too late!
The other transplant story I read lately had to do with a woman whose husband committed suicide. His heart was transplanted to a second man, who met and married the woman… and if that weren’t enough, wound up committing suicide himself, begging the question: Is it the heart or the wife that’s the problem?
And then, of course, there is the pregnant man who went on Oprah last week. Wait, wait… didn’t I see this movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger, or is it all just a bad dream?
Real life is getting weirder than anything we can make up.
It’s like God is being pitched ideas by a couple of screenwriters bouncing off the walls of his holy offices saying, “Wait, Chief, it gets better!”
And by the way, yes, the screenwriters’ names are Eddie and Budd (with two d’s).
William Goldman, in his book Adventures in the Screen Trade, describes these as “movie moments” — those impossible situations and episodes that occur in real life when we feel like we’re living in a movie. Goldman describes one such incident while on the production of Stepford Wives when he snapped on the radio only to hear a news report that punctuated a conversation he was having, at which point he turned to his companion and said: “Movie moment.”
It was supposed to point out how movies often don’t jibe with life, how we allow the “suspension of disbelief” (whatever that means) so that we can get back to the dream that is our movie experience. We screenwriters are adept at massaging this to make sure we don’t lose audiences. But given what sometimes really happens, why bother? Whoever’s writing this stuff that’s really happening has not been paying attention to the rules, and still we’re buying it. We have to!
It’s real life.
Perhaps this can spill over into extra work for screenwriters. While we can’t necessarily get an appointment with God to pitch stuff (he is way over budget on so many other projects for fall), we can perhaps get in and pitch to the Pentagon.
“What if satellite falls out of the sky and we have to shoot it down with a missle?”
“Okay, okay, what if we call the program Star Wars, like the movie?”
The overlap between the movies and real life threatens to put us all out work. But for me I will continue to try to come up with ideas. You never know, I might come up with something really good.
I just hope real life doesn’t beat me to it!