Friday, July 11, 2008

Water Shortage

Several years ago I wrote a script that had as one of its elements an army of ghosts. Everyone who read the screenplay swore it would sell for big money, and that it was the best screenplay I had written up to that point. I was really proud of this script myself; I felt that I had nailed this story and its treatment.

But when I showed the screenplay to my agent at the time, he looked as if he had smelled some sour milk. His comment was, "Dead people walking around – that's like Scooby-Doo. Don't they have dead people walking around?" He looked at me like I was a moron.

I was stunned. This was a fairly serious script; the ghosts were treated as a real threat. There was nothing there remotely like Scooby-Doo. (The cartoon, I mean. This was before the live action movie.)

But let me put this in context for you: this was years before Sixth Sense, and Hollywood hadn't yet rediscovered the power of the supernatural.

For a while, I was baffled as to why my screenplay made my agent think of a cartoon show. Then it hit me – he had no better reference for dead people walking around.

That's when I realized that imagination is like a reservoir: you can take out only what you have put in.

Everything is a Remix Part 2 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

I grew up reading comics, watching the Twilight Zone, Star Trek and The Outer Limits. I had also had books full of art by fantasy artists like Frank Frazetta. My mind was full of fantastic images and stories. This was the reservoir from which I drew. It was all of these things I took in that allowed me to create my own stories with their own realities.

My agent had a much more limited palette, so for him dead people equaled Scooby-Doo. He had no other reference point.

I tell you this story because I have a hard time getting some of my students to watch older films or films outside a particular genre. But these things are ways of filling one's reservoir. It will give you more colors to paint with, so to speak, and demonstrate that there can be many different treatments for the same idea.

Look at Batman. There is the 1960s camp version. There is Tim Burton's version from the '80s, which was inspired by Frank Miller's treatment of the character in The Dark Knight comic book. And there is the current film treatment by Christopher Nolan, which, I'm sure owes much to the Frank Miller/David Mazzucchelli take on the character in their comic book mini-series Batman Year One. That book treated the character in a more realistic fashion than others had.

My point is that there are an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to how a story, or character can be imagined. But your ideas are limited to your life experiences and the books, movies, television show, music and other art that you take in. So do what you can to experience more because, again, your imagination is a reservoir. The more you put in, the more you can take out later on.


r i l e y said...

thank you for providing me with a fabulous excuse to watch as many movies as i can. i suppose i'll try the "life experience" bit, too... :)

Mare said...

Great to see you posting again, Brian. I check here periodicaly and I didn't realize, until I saw the dripping water faucet, just how much the crazy astronaut lady was creeping me out!

Anonymous said...

Hi B. Call me. It's Seth Lockhart. Sending my condolences re your dad. Miss your writing. Just want to update you but trying to find your email. Best-- Seth 818.445.8128

Kevin Sterling said...

Brian - Great to see you are blogging again. So sorry to hear about your dad. Looking forward to hearing more great topics from you at the Screenwriter Salon.

Anonymous said...

Nice Page!
飯店,住宿,HOTEL,婚宴,台北住宿,台北HOTEL,台北婚宴,飯店優惠,訂房,國內訂房,結婚,,婚宴,,台北結婚,婚宴場地,推車飲茶,港式點心,場地,尾牙春酒,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,SEO,網路廣告,關鍵字廣告,關鍵字,學區,捷運,小套房,看房子,買房子,建商自售,自售,台北新成屋,台北豪宅,新成屋,豪宅,美髮,儀器,髮型,EMBA,MBA,學位,EMBA,專業認證,認證課程,博士學位,DBA,PHD,在職進修,碩士學位,推廣教育,DBA,進修課程,碩士學位,課程介紹,學分班,文憑,學位,碩士學位,進修,在職進修,課程,教育,學位,證照,mba,文憑,學分班,在職進修,MBA,EMBA,留學,MBA,EMBA,留學,進修,在職進修,牛樟芝,段木,牛樟菇,牛樟芝,段木,牛樟菇,日式料理, 台北居酒屋,日本料理,居酒屋,SEO,廣告,關鍵字,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,網站排名,網路廣告,SEO,廣告,關鍵字,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,網站排名,SEO,關鍵字,關鍵字排名,網路行銷,EMBA,MBA,PMP,在職進修,專案管理,出國留學,漢高資訊,漢高資訊,比利時,比利時聯合商學院,宜蘭民宿,台東民宿,澎湖民宿,墾丁民宿,花蓮民宿,SEO,找工作,汽車旅館,阿里山,日月潭,阿里山民宿,東森購物,momo購物台,pc home購物,網路購物,手機,手機王,數位像機,衛星導行,GPS,小筆電,機油漢高資訊,漢高資訊,在職進修,漢高資訊,在職進修,住宿,住宿,整形,造型,室內設計,室內設計,漢高資訊,在職進修,漢高資訊,在職進修,住宿,美容,室內設計,在職進修,羅志祥,周杰倫,五月天,住宿,住宿,整形,整形,室內設計,室內設計,比利時聯合商學院,在職進修,比利時聯合商學院,在職進修,漢高資訊,找工作,找工作,找工作,找工作,找工作,蔡依林,林志玲,政治大學,政治大學,政治大學,政治大學,政治大學,非凡美食大探索,非凡美食大探索,非凡美食大探索,非凡美食大探索,非凡美食大探索

Zane said...

Looks like a superman story to me.

Daniel Smith said...

Brian, you are incredibly quotable.

"Imagination is like a reservoir: you can take out only what you have put in."

That just made my quote file and it went into Nine (!?) of my categories.


Brian McD said...

Hey Daniel,

Thanks so much!