Thursday, November 8, 2012

Don Rearden: So You Say You Have a Movie Idea?

Other than folders or crumplers, there are two types of writers, those who have a great idea for a movie and those who try doing something with that great idea. Okay, so maybe I have no right to lump everyone into a category (or place them in one of these) based upon their handling of rejection notices or toilet paper; however, I do feel I have some authority to make the latter claim about folks having a great movie idea.

I know this from years and years of intense dissection and reflection of discussions at cocktail parties about this very topic. To better illustrate what I mean I shall use an example in the screenwriting format for your reading pleasure complete with hyperlinks to illustrate what I’m trying to say in the very unlikely case my writing itself is not illuminating enough. Coincidentally, should the following pique your interest or inspire you to want to learn more, I just so happen to be leading a workshop about beginning screenwriting on Nov 17th from 10:00am to 1:00pm and you can sign up here!


A mysterious, yet ruggedly handsome man, dark hair, dark eyes, stands off to the side of the party. He stares out the window, lost in thought. He swirls a glass of cognac, with an air of pained sophistication.

A stranger approaches.

Excuse me. Are you Don?

He turns and nods.

The host told me you make movies?

I just dabble in screenwriting and the occasional novel. I barely know how to make a sandwich.

Anything I’ve seen?

That depends. Are you inclined to watch television late at night, waste money on pay-per-view in cheap hotels, or rent straight to DVD movies?


Then that is the answer.

Oh.  I see. Say, I have an idea for a movie!

What is it? Tell me so I can steal your idea and turn it into my next straight to Netflix movie, which is, I admit, a step giant down from straight to BlueRay.

Wait a second!

Just kidding.  Look here, Stranger. Are you a writer?

The stranger nods.

See, there are two types of writers in this world. Folders and crumplers. Just kidding. There are people who say they have an idea for a screenplay and those who write one.

That makes sense. I have a cousin who has been working on the same screenplay for like twelve years.

Don groans and rubs his temples.

Okay, make that three types of people in this world. I forgot to add writers like your cousin. Look there is no big mystery when it comes to writing screenplays. But you can either keep talking about this big awesome movie idea for the rest of your life or you can learn how to write a script and start writing it once and for all.

But I wouldn’t know where to begin.

It’s not rocket-science, Stranger. You could take a class, read a book, or do a little research on the web. If you’ve watched television and movies your whole life you probably know writing for the screen better than you think. The structure has already been encoded in your brain, Matrix style.


Don removes two pills from his pocket. He holds them in his palm. One RED. One BLUE.

So it’s really like the Matrix? One way or the other? Those who write and those who just talk about it?

DON nods again. He takes a deep breath and rubs his temples again.

I’m sorry, what are the pills for? Does the blue one shoot me into superstar screenwriter land?  Or the red?

What? No. These are Advil. I have a horrible headache, but only had a gel cap and a tablet.  Too much time at the laptop, lately. Once you start writing these things, it’s hard to stop.  Look, Stranger, there is no magic pill for screenwriting, and I can’t promise success or super-stardom. What I can guarantee you is this: If you never try to write that great idea, it won’t go anywhere, not even straight to YouTube.


SHORT BIO: Don Rearden is not the Don portrayed here, he's much more handsome in real life. His novel 
The Raven's Gift will finally be readily available in the US in the summer of 2013, provided the Mayans weren't correct about the world ending in 2012. Register now for his three-hour 49 Writers Workshop "Unleashing the Screenwriter in You" to be held on Saturday, Nov. 17.


Andromeda Romano-Lax said...

Don, you never fail to crack me up. And love the links, too!

Tam Linsey said...

I have no intention of writing a screenplay, but now I want to take your class just so I can have some giggles (assuming you teach like this!)

Lynn Lovegreen said...

Great post! And I recommend Don very highly. His Twitter comments are awesome too. :-)