Monday, May 19, 2014

Stealing ideas

First of all, I really did a lame blog last Friday, it just wasn't really that good. But it's gone and today's a new day.

When I taught UCLA classes a lot of students were worried about someone stealing their ideas. I have to say I've never really worried about that because it isn't as realistic as most aspiring writers think.

For one thing, whenever I consider a new idea I write this down;

Two people have the same idea.
One person is writing it.
Two others are shopping it
One is coming out next week.

Does that mean everyone has the same idea?

Well, there's only so many ideas out there and it's really hard to find something completely new. For example, look at Gravity. Is it a new idea? Not really, we've seen lots of space movies and not even mentioned Kubrick's 2001 Space Odyssey.

But the difference was technology here and a little different story; only two people rather than lots of people in Kubrick's movie as well as other movies. What made the difference was the incredible CGI that made it look real.

So an old idea can become a new idea as did Gravity.

The Greeks really figured out story long ago and performed stories about sex, betrayal, love, hate and a few other things. Shakespeare had Romeo and Juliet, of which at least a few dozen movies have used that same theme and plot.

So there's no real ideas; just different takes on them.

Back to stealing.

As I said, I've never really had an idea stolen, well, just once on a MacGyver episode where one of the writers I knew actually copied the storyline of Ghostkeeper, the horror film I made in 1980.

But I didn't mind at all, my movie wasn't that big of a deal.

I know a writer who conceals his ideas and scripts very carefully and doesn't show them to anybody without practically swearing on a bible. And I guess that gives him some security. However if he wants to sell the screenplay he's going to have to show it to someone.

On the other hand I will show any screenplay of mine to anyone who wants to see it, you never know what can happen.

I met a cameraman on Linkedin who asked me if I had any screenplays. I gave him one to read and he forgot about it for a few years. Then this spring he read it again and called up another friend and I signed an option deal a few months ago, with the hope they'll make it this year.

But there are some thefts in Hollywood but mostly by shifty producers whom you wouldn't want to work with at any rate.

And I do have one I'm protecting, The President's Heart, which I only show to producers who I know have the ability to make it.

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