Monday, November 26, 2012

How an idea comes and goes

Having written for around 40 years or so (who counts after that many years?) I seem to be getting more ideas than ever for a screenplay.  My latest one came when I watched consumers storming big box stores and malls for Black Friday sales. I had to return a suitcase to Macy's and thought I'd drive by the Fashion Square Mall near me to return it.

But it was not to be, the streets were blocked off as though a hurricane was coming and traffic cops were everywhere. And it was all for the mall traffic. Needless to say I turned around and went home.

But on the way back, I started thinking about Black Friday. I'm always looking for a holiday movie for Hallmark or Lifetime, and I thought that maybe a movie called Black Friday could work. It would be about four or five people who have adventures in a shopping mall on that big day.

But then Black Friday was a great title for a horror movie too. Maybe even better than a family movie for Hallmark.

I thought it over for the rest of the day, bouncing each idea around and trying to imagine what kind of story I could write, and for which idea.

By Saturday, I was focused on the mall idea, and with green screen and CGI, it could be made for those mini-budgets that Hallmark deals with. You wouldn't need a thousand extras, you could create them on computers.

But the dark side of me was also pushing the horror film. My first movie, Ghostkeeper, was a horror movie, although it could be labeled as a "supernatural thriller". There wasn't really a lot of horror in it because I'm not the kind of person who wants to see people being cut up.

And that brought me back to the nice Black Friday. A friend suggested I see that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Jingle All The Way (remember that one?) where Arnold fights for a special toy for his son.  Maybe I could still make the family version.

But by Sunday both ideas started to look lame, the horror movie definitely not what I wanted to write and the family one was too much about money and buying stuff, and I didn't think that was particularly inspiring either. 

By the end of the day I dropped both ideas and this morning put them into my files for projects that might be resurrected, or maybe not.

But then there was that mall cop movie with Kevin James, but it didn't do much business.

But then I remembered a screenplay I read that was written by Sam Peckinpah, the great screenwriter and director whose movie The Wild Bunch, is a classic. He had written a screenplay about someone locked in a department store all night and was being terrorized by an unknown presence that seemed to be hunting him. 

Well, that's not a horror film completely, it's more "Hitchcockian" as they say. Suspense. I could write a suspense movie. 

I'll see how I feel Tuesday.


  1. Jim, I recall seeing a TV movie of the week (early 70's)about a man who is mugged in a large store's bathroom. He regains consiousness after the store is closed for the night. HOWEVER, the store is patrolled by Doberman Pinscers at night. Star of the movie was Barbara Striesand's now husband, (I forget his name). Glenn in SR.

  2. It was called TRAPPED 1973 with Brolin, Susan Clark and Earl Holliman who did a western series "Hotel De Paree" and was opposite Angie Dickinson in Police Woman. Memories, huh.