A tentpole frame of mind

 

kids-movies
My objective. Every single time.

Here in the US, we are heading into what’s known as Memorial Day weekend, where we honor those who have given their lives in the service of our country. It’s also considered the kickoff of the summer season, even though summer doesn’t officially start for a few weeks.

Once upon a time, Memorial Day weekend was when the summer movie season kicked into high gear, with each weekend seeing the release of a potential blockbuster. It has since crashed through the barrier of time limitation, with some summer-appropriate fare being released as early as late March.

I was fortunate enough to have come of age when each summer saw its fair share of films that could be categorized as prime examples of not only filmmaking, but also of storytelling.

Definitely storytelling.

RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. GHOSTBUSTERS. BACK TO THE FUTURE. ALIENS. ROBOCOP. DIE HARD.

Each one has made its indelible mark on me, making quite the impact on my psyche and personality, and severely influencing the way I write. I make no secret about loving to write these kinds of stories.

(Author’s note – I’m no fool. Nobody’s going to take a chance on a mega-budget script from an unknown. Hopefully once I establish a foothold with my smaller scripts, I can eventually bring out the bigger ones.)

Some may see a summer release as Big Dumb Fun, which admittedly some of them are, but I make a point of treating the audience as intelligent people and want to give them a story that goes beyond simplistic expectations.

I strive to write material that entertains more than just the eyes and ears; I go for the brain, too. It takes a lot of effort to put together a story that stimulates the viewer on more than just a sensory level, but when it’s done in a smart and efficient way, the satisfaction of seeing it pay off is well worth it.

Will I ever get paid to write these kinds of stories? I like to think so. It doesn’t hurt to at least daydream about it.

Imagining that sometime in the relatively near future, a trailer will come up that features snippets of characters and dialogue, all of my creation, all culminating with those words laden with the excitement of anticipation:

“Coming this summer to a theatre near you”

A big smile and chills up my spine, believe you me.

Unfortunately, more of the same

What? A new, original idea? That's crazy talk!
What? A new, original idea? We don’t know if our brains can take it!

“Don’t remake good movies. Remake bad movies and improve them.” – John Huston

As a writer and fan of original material, it’s quite disturbing how many remakes and reboots keep appearing or are announced, with no sign of it coming to an end.

Sadly, this is how the industry works, with most of the studios afraid to take a chance on something new and original, as opposed to something that’s already proven itself.

But apart from a few exceptions, how many of those trips back to the well have been successful?  On top of that, there’s no avoiding a comparison to the original, with the remake usually found lacking.

Putting this in perspective – I’m a huge fan of the original ROBOCOP, which will have a remake released in February. I have no desire to see it because the trailer doesn’t make it look that interesting, and I don’t see the point in remaking it in the first place.

Counter to that, the forthcoming GODZILLA remake/reboot looks great because it appears to be a smart, new approach to the story, and definitely feels like a significant improvement over the one from 1998. I really hope it doesn’t fall victim to PACIFIC RIM syndrome – big build-up, followed by big letdown.

Now they’re announcing Ed Helms as Frank Drebin in a reboot of THE NAKED GUN. Have they no shame? Apparently not.

The movie-going public wants, no, craves new stories.  Look at The Black List, or the latest batch of Nicholl finalists. This is high-quality stuff, people. Just about any one of them would make for a great film.

There’s a ton of fantastic original material out there, but all we can do as writers is keep writing and hope somebody believes in it enough to drum up the courage to do something with it.