Screenwriting : Beat to the punch on my "original" idea. Keep going or cut bait? by Joe Bousquin

Joe Bousquin

Beat to the punch on my "original" idea. Keep going or cut bait?

Hello everyone. So, for the last three months or so, I've been developing an idea in my ScreenwritingU class about a gun rights lobbyist who switches sides. Yesterday, I saw the trailer for Miss Sloane, starring Jessica Chastain, about a gun lobbyist... who switches sides. Apparently, there's also another title in development called the Senator's Wife that covers similar ground. For now, I'm choosing to look at the bright side -- I mean, this is definite confirmation that my concept was movie worthy, right? What do you all think? Is this good or bad? Should I cut bait and start working on something else, or forge ahead with this, for which I've already outlined, developed characters, and started writing scenes?

John OHara Aka John E. WordSlinger

I would write it anyway, don't read or watch what was made or about to be.

Dan MaxXx

Wait for the box office results. If movie tanks, drop it. watch the movie for your own intel and compare your writing/research to Miss Sloane Writer. Or flip the idea- a lobbyist who switches sides for more Guns :)

Roxanne Paukner

You're writing it for a class; I say keep writing it. You will want to continue to keep pace with the lessons rather than backtracking. This is a learning experience and the other projects don't take away from that. It could be an interesting educational BONUS to be able to watch those other movies after your story is done!

Eric Christopherson

If you're passionate enough about the project, then complete it. Maybe there's no market today, due to recent sales or ongoing development, but there's always tomorrow. Also, writing is all in the execution anyway. Two writers can take off from the same exact premise and produce vastly different stories.

Louis Sihler

Write what you love and don't worry about it.

Joe Bousquin

Roxanne, Great points. And Eric, that is so true. I came up with a new goal today: produce five pages of script every day, no matter what. I'm after quality, not quantity, for sure. But I think just having this goal will help me keep moving forward, regardless of what's in the marketplace. Thanks for the wisdom, everyone.

Shawn Speake

Strong thread... I believe... 'Write what you wanna see, Playboy!'

Matt Hurd

Roxanne makes a good point - since this is for a class, don't backtrack on it, regardless of if there are other, similar things out there. At worst, it's a purely craft-based exercise for you that'll help you improve your skills for the next project. At best, it remains a viable sample for your portfolio. Even if it won't get made, it could still open doors for you.

William Martell

If you get beaten to the punch, use that knowledge to rework your story to make it unique. There are almost always 2 movies with the same seed of an idea - but if you look at the testosterone heavy ARMAGEDDON and compare it to the more emotional DEEP IMPACT you can see how the same basic idea can take a different path. One important element is the SECOND high concept - as we look at in this Script Tip:

Desiree Middleton

Finish it. Make it your own. Dig deep to make it unique, unpredictable.

Joe Bousquin

Bill, great point about the second big idea -- I do have a secondary aspect of my story that's still unique. And I like all the points about keeping going to get another piece in my portfolio, too. I guess the journalist in me was worried about getting "scooped." Thanks everyone for the encouragement to carry on.

Bill Costantini

No disrespect intended, Joe, but that sounds like a tough sell in the way that you explained it - another story about a "gun-rights lobbyist who switches sides." In that setting...Washington, D.C.....high-powered just sounds like too much of the same thing, unless your story isn't so D.C.-centric. Kudos to Jonathan Perera, screenwriter of Miss Sloane. Evidently it was his first script; it was inspired by a documentary that Mr. Perera saw about lobbyist extraordinaire-until-he-went-to-jail Jack Abramoff (great film about him, too, besides the documentary); and it was on The Black List just last year. That was a quick turnaround. I hope Miss Sloane does well, even though it has such a limited prospective audience and the reviews have been pretty mixed. And MAJOR KUDOS to you, Joe - your documentary, The Last Descent, KIIIIICKSSSSS IT! Great job!

Mark Gunnion

Happens all the time. Take it as a sign you're reading the Hollywood zeitgeist right; finish it and put it aside for a year and start the next one, by the time you get back to it, Hollywood will have forgotten Miss Sloane, or you'll want to emphasize different elements.

Joe Bousquin

Bill, Thanks so much for the forthright commentary. I agree, there are a lot of challenges with it to begin with, the limited marketability included. But I'd like to hope I've got something that's a little different, too. I just downloaded the Miss Sloane script (haven't read it yet), and Jonathan Perera's story of how he wrote it is inspiring -- makes me want to keep going, in fact. And thank you for the kind words about The Last Descent. Definitely a passion project, and one that was a lot of fun!

Joe Bousquin

Mark, Such great points! It's not like my drawer is so filled with completed screenplays that I don't have room for one more. Anyway, I've already got 30 pages of this one done, so I might as well get to the end of a first draft and go from there. Thanks for the encouragement.

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