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Go Fishing for Stories - Movie Mutant - Short Script Gods
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Go Fishing for Stories – Movie Mutant

Any storyteller worth their salt will have hundreds of story ideas in their back pocket. Will they use all of them? Likely not. But you never know when you may hit on one idea that you’re really motivated to write; or you have a couple halfway-decent ideas that when combined, would make a great story. Let’s go fishing…


Last time, we explored hunting for stories in the the Personal Ads. This time, I’d like to introduce another approach to drumming up a story idea. This was suggested to me from the producer of BASTARDS and THE VATICAN TAPES.

Step 1: Choose your Genre. At the start of your career, it’s best to hone your brand. Pick a genre – ACTION, SCI-FI, DRAMA, COMEDY…

Step 2: Visit IMDB and look up the top 50 highest-grossing films in your genre. So, let’s say you want to brand yourself as the ACTION GAL, then visit IMDB’s top 50 highest-grossing action films.

Step 3: Scan through the list of 50 highest-grossing movie titles in your genre. Pick TWO that you COULD HAVE written. What does that mean? As writers, we naturally have certain themes and tones that we gravitate to. I like action films okay, but I’m not crazy about PIRATES or SPIDER-MAN or X-MEN… I know I don’t have it in me to write something like Spider-Man. That’s not a film I could have written. But there are other action films that resonate…

I’m scanning the list now, and…

…I’ve identified TWO films that I *could have* written. These two films are:


– NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM: A newly recruited night security guard at the Museum of Natural History discovers that an ancient curse causes the animals and exhibits on display to come to life and wreak havoc.

– INDEPENDENCE DAY: The aliens are coming and their goal is to invade and destroy Earth. Fighting superior technology, mankind’s best weapon is the will to survive.

Step 4: With the two films you *could have* written, think of a way to combine the two into a fresh and new concept.

Let’s see…

Reading these two loglines, the first thought that pops in my head is Roswell. What if the alien autopsy really WAS real… Somewhere on the premises is the alien body. A security guard on duty at the Roswell museum at night when the dead alien is resurrected.

Or perhaps, going with this Roswell thing… How about the Roswell crash site is a kind of beacon for the alien race still in outer space – the alien corpse wasn’t respectfully disposed of and a curse is inflicted on the city of Roswell. It’s time for the aliens to return to the site of the crash and take revenge.

Admittedly, neither of these ideas are very good. But who cares. The important thing here is to simply TRY to come up with something. If at first it doesn’t work out, find two new films from the list and combine those.


Create a movie mutant


Here’s a variation on this method – Norith and I have a bag full of various movie titles – all genres. At times when we want to generate new ideas, we sometimes go to “THE BAG” and each pull out one movie title. It’s a lot of fun coming up with a concept, trying to top one another and build on one another’s idea.

Either method you use, just try. You’ll get into the habit of generating ideas and train your imagination to get in gear upon your command.

Written by: Mich Medvedoff

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