"Nobody knows anything." -William Goldman
William Goldman knows a lot about the Hollywood film industry. He wrote the definitive book, "Adventures In The Screen Trade," about his experience as a top scriptwriter there in LA.
From my limited experience as an unknown scriptwriter in LA, I discovered you need chutzpah, cojones, connections and talent to succeed in Hollywood. Talent being the least important.
Almost everyone loves movies. Everyone in the world, from the most primitive people to the most sophisticated and intelligent, loves movies. For better or worse, movies shape our perspectives. What makes a good movie? Good writing, good acting, good directing, good editing, good sound, good music. That and a bold perspective separate the great films from the bad ones.
I would love someone there in Hollywood, some gutsy producer, to take one of the ideas listed below and make an innovative movie. Would that movie win a lot of Oscars and make a huge profit? Nobody knows, to paraphrase Goldman. But I predict most of them would. As William Goldman's most memorable character, Butch Cassidy said: "I got vision while the rest of the world wears bifocals."
Should This Be The Subject Of A Hollywood Movie?
When can we expect Oliver Stone to sit down with Dylan Avery and put together a REAL 911 movie? In this movie, I envision a group of New York City firefighters-those doomed guys struggling to the upper floors of the south tower---while simultaneously the WTC 7 and north tower is being evacuated. Jumpers begin to fall from the sky; terrified onlookers gaze skyward. At the same time we see, far below the streets, a group of men frantically removing god bars from the bank vaults below the WTC complex. The camera cuts to a pair of NORAD pilots, far offshore over the Atlantic, wondering aloud why they are restricted to a speed of 500 mph when their jets can top 1500.
I predict an enormous appeal and huge box office profit for the movie, "9-11." Indeed, if fully 36% of Americans believe 911 was an inside job (and even more believe it around the world), then imagine the huge appetite to see what really happened on September 11, 2001. Hey Hollywood : anybody listening?
Another movie long overdue would be called "Liberty." Some of you already know the story. It is a tale of epic heroism, of betrayal, of self-sacrifice, of cowardice on the part of the US Navy and the White House. In 1967, the USS Liberty, a reconnaissance ship, was attacked for two hours by Israeli planes and torpedo boats but did not sink. Top guns of the US fleet wanted to speed to her rescue but gutless admirals and the twin war criminals, Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara ordered them back. Unfortunately this suspenseful action-packed thriller, with several Oscar worthy performances by George Clooney or Matthew McConaughey, will never be made. Because no movie that ever shows Israel in a malevolent light will ever be produced on the Hollywood screen. It might as well be the 11th commandment.
The same for any film depicting Rachel Corrie. We can have endless worthy films about Ann Frank and her struggle during the Nazi arrests and exterminations. But what about a heroine, like Rachel Corrie, who actively put herself in danger? Hollywood producers and directors always tell scriptwriters that the ideal protagonist should act forcefully or heroically rather than react passively to events around them. Which is exactly what Rachel did. Too bad Corrie got herself killed by a bulldozer in Israel , protecting Palestinian homes. Might be a long time before we see an Oscar-nominated performance about her heroism. Might be never.
Instead, Hollywood loves those slasher films; loves those stalker films; loves those serial killer films. Okay! Lets make a great stalker slasher serial killer film. In this movie, I envision a normal guy whose sister dies on the set of a slasher film, from the stalker son of the director, who tortures the poor girl. Lets make this director, and his son, a pair of rich and spoiled assholes, real sociopaths. And all their friends-other bloodthirsty directors--make tons of money showing kids getting tortured in movies like "Cabin Fever" or "Saw." Okay; we've set up the premise and now begins the vendetta. So for the next hour we viewers take a vicarious thrill, watching the brother of the slain girl bump off every director of serial killer movies. The name of the move? Serial Killer, of course.
Another Hollywood movie I would love to see is a love story. Yes, a love story. Hollywood , being mostly filled with dysfunctional people, has a hard time making love stories. How about a reprise of the classic Romeo and Juliet story, of doomed-lovers coping with heartless adults in a cold and calculating society? Ask yourself: what would Will Shakespeare do? Or even Will Goldman?
Why not set up a young couple, Amira & Aaron, as the story of star-crossed lovers, in apartheid Israel ? After all, Israel is a country where Arabs and Jews may indeed marry each other but not be allowed to reside together in Israel! Talk about the ultimate anti-Semitism; two Semitic people in love creating a hostile act against the state; what a wonderful idea for a movie.
Lets call our movie, The Holy Family. When the movie opens, with the credits still rolling, we see Aaron teaching a class as a young Jewish college professor in Tel Aviv. Next we see Amira as a beautiful Palestinian or Arab intellect. They meet somewhere, maybe along the shore, on a bus, at the university, at a concert, wherever. They fall in love, get married, settle down. No problem, right? Nope, not in Israel. They have laws against such anti-social behavior there, making it very difficult for anyone breaking this taboo. Anyway, our idealistic couple runs into animosity from their respective families and heartless bureaucrats until of course they make a suicide pact. But, in a plot twist, I'd make our lovers pretend to commit suicide and then run away to Canada or Holland. Hollywood moviemakers love happy ending and so do we viewers. I'm surprised some ingenious moviemaker hasn't already thought of this idea.
Lastly, I'm not a very big fan of sequels. So I would suggest that actor/ writer/director, Sly Stallone, finish his Rocky series right now. Go ahead and make "Rocky 10." Here are my script suggestions. Rocky Balboa is now 79 years old and living in an Arizona retirement community, when the grandson of another old geezer taunts Rocky, verabally taunts and brutalizes the former champ. Turns out the bully is a Golden Gloves champ and beat the crap out of Rocky's granddaughter and left her crying at the altar, ruining their wedding.
Anyway, Rocky starts training again. We see him, at the age of 79, climbing those steps again, huffing along with a couple of canes, punching the speed bag slowly, getting in shape for that Big Fight. Whether he wins or loses never really mattered in a Rocky film. That was the best part. It always left room for the next sequel. Of course in Rocky 10, I'd have Rocky die. After he beat the crap out of that rude dude, of course.
I have lots of other great ideas for Hollywood movies that will probably never be made. Any gutsy producer/director with a bit of cash can always contact me. My advice to young film students, however, is to take your vision, modify it, examine it, hold it up to the light, and then let it ferment for awhile. If it is truly worthwhile, your idea will burn a hole in the minds of others with the heat of your own convictions. Just be sure to write well.
Of course you can follow more prosaic advice. "Take your best least expensive project," said director Kevin Smith, "and make a movie of it." That usually works for Hollywood , except they add a whole lot of special effects and explosions, adding more bang for the buck in order to make more bucks, unfortunately sacrificing the story.
Longtime Rense columnist, Douglas Herman wrote the suspense thriller, The Guns of Dallas, soon to be a Hollywood movie. God-willing.