Screenwriting : Would you write about a serial killer? by Emily Ann Jefferson

Emily Ann Jefferson

Would you write about a serial killer?

So.. I wanted to write a movie based on the rapist and serial killer john wayne gacy. But then again people might think it's crazy or a bad idea. Is it bad I want to write a movie based on him? :/ like come on, I don't want people thinking I'm crazy but...

Randall C Willis

Hey Emily, As far as I'm concerned, you should be able to write about whatever intrigues you and for which you feel you have something to say. Sure, some people may wonder what your fascination is with the subject matter, but I wouldn't let that stop you. Given your specific topic and more specifically how old the story is, I would wonder what you will bring to the story that hasn't been explored before. Again, not saying you shouldn't do it, but more wondering how you intend to attract someone to the story. Regardless, if this is something you want to do, do it. Good luck, Randy

Mark LaFever

Hey Emily - I don't think a Gacy story/movie would necessarily be either a good idea or a bad idea...it's all in how it's executed. With that in mind, I'd kinda take some of what Randall's talking about and just think deeply about the whole idea. What IS your fascination with the subject matter? If you can identify that, and communicate it to audiences - sort of bringing them on board with whatever it is that fascinates you - then you might have something pretty strong. Best of luck!

Dan Guardino

A screenplay about any serial killer would be a hard sell.

Pierre Langenegger

Sure, why not? Why would people think you're crazy? Have people actually said this or are you just worried that people will think you're crazy? If you have a passion to tell a particular story, write it and don't ask people if it's a crazy idea or not, if you're going to be worried about that then you'll never write anything.

Owen Mowatt

The only question is, why are you writing it? If you have any doubts about how it'll be received it'll seriously hamper your ability to write about character like this.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hey Emily, true crime is both horrifying and fascinating, and has influenced the creation of many films. My first thought or concern for your story is that the John Wayne Gacy case is well known and much studied. There are lots of books or excerpts about him from true crime writers to criminologists to those who worked the case. A few films about him already exist. Plus, he's been featured in many true crime investigation TV series and documentaries. I recently noticed a really really bad "found footage" style film about paranormal investigators who are hunting for and hope to capture video evidence of the ghost of John Wayne Gacy. They spend the night in the house built over the former Gacy house site, and, of course, it doesn't go well for them. But, anyway, perhaps you could also come at the subject from a different angle. Perhaps from the perspective of a victim, like "The Lovely Bones." Or, perhaps tell the story from the perspective of Gacy's family. What would it be like to realize your husband or your father is a serial killer? One of Stephen King's short stories, "A Good Marriage," was produced recently (I believe the book fared much better than the film). The story was loosely influenced by the B.T.K. killer, Dennis Rader, who was a respectful family man and who killed 10 people. Dennis Rader's family was pretty upset and voiced their objections about the book and the film. With that in mind, the other concern to consider for your story is that of obtaining rights. Would you need to? I don't know? It depends on what you do. He was executed in 1994. It's a very publicized case, so perhaps it would be considered "fair use." Perhaps you could option the film rights to a particular book about him. Perhaps you'd need to check with legal council, just to be sure. Or, you could come up with a fictional character and use the Gacy case as one of many influences, similar to "The Silence of the Lambs"; the killer "Buffalo Bill" in the film was a blend of 6 known serial killers — Ted Bundy and Ed Gein were two. The fictional route may be easier, as it also frees you from factual accountability. Whatever you do or decide, Emily, I wish you the best with your project. :)

Fiona Faith Ross

No way. I don't do violence or misery stuff. Life is too traumatic already. My defense is humour. I don't want to write about the horrifying, true realities of life.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Well, to each their own. Comedy is great, however I like thrillers. I'm currently working on one that features a killer. I will say that the Gacy case is absolute depravity at its worse and most evil. It is extremely horrific and deeply disturbing. It's a tough, dark subject, no doubt, one I personally wouldn't go near. Many may not want to. But, again, perhaps it's finding a different angle or using it only as an influence. In the film "The Lovely Bones" we knew exactly what happened to Susie. They didn't show it, they didn't even talk about it. It was just known. That film was more about sadness and dealing with loss and tragedy than the killer.

Bill Costantini

Here is a sad footnote to the infamous Gacy murders in Chicago in the 1970's. +Gacy was in prison in Animosa, Iowa in the 1960's, where he was serving a ten-year sentence for sexual assualt. +Gacy was paroled in 1970 after serving two years of the ten-year sentence, and relocated to Chicago. +He was accused of molesting a boy in Chicago a few years later, but a communications error prevented Animosa from finding out. +If they had found out, he would have been sent back to prison in Iowa for parole violations, and probably would have never committed the horrible crimes that he did in the late 1970's in Chicago - at least not then, anyway. +I don't recall if the families of the victims were able to bring that error to any type of trial after the discovery of that fact. Pretty sad, eh? In a college art class, I had made stained glass windows for the chapel of the Animosa prison. After telling one of the prison trustees assisting me that I was from Chicago, he pointed to the miniature golf course outside the chapel and enthusiastically said "see that? John made that!" Which he did. Shivvvvvvver. The best book on the Gacy matter is The Chicago Killer, written by Joseph Kozenczak, the Des Plaines, IL. detective who performed the main bulk of the casework that got Gacy arrested. It's a brilliant re-telling of how their great police work and interactions with Gacy in those weeks led to the gruesome discoveries. Another good one was written by the lead state's attorney Terry Sullivan (Killer Clown), and another good one was written with Chicago reporter Russ Ewing (Buried Dreams). I'm pretty sure all three had sold the book rights at one point, and don't know what happened after that. The three or four existing movies are pretty bad move movies-of-the week surface skimming tripe, although the one Beth mentioned had an interesting spin; a decently gory story line; and some interesting cinematography.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yes, very sad; some error allowing a monster to be set back out into the world. Bill, I've seen one of Gacy's clown paintings up close, gave me the whim-whams. Eeeeeyuck! Shivvvver indeed.

Daniel Magill

I'm pretty sure they made a Gacy movie back in the 90s sometime. It was probably direct to video, but I remember seeing something in a video store. I personally am not interested in serial killer bios, but as Beth said, to each her own.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yeah, serial killer bios seem to be better as true crime documentaries, in my opinion. I watch a lot of documentaries -- of all kinds. Really, I'm not that morbid! LOL! Fictional characters based on some truths, like in "Silence of the Lambs" seems to be more successful. But, who knows, anything is possible. Again, Emily, I wish you the best with whatever you decide. :)

Rafael Pinero

Actually I have the Gacy DVD, I would personally love to write about a serial killer, I love those movies, I've noticed that all the movies done about real serial killers have been small movies, low budget... Except for The Zodiac, I think. There's a movie about TED BUNDY, DHAMER, ED GEIN, ALBERT FISH, CHIKATILO, GACY, THE ZODIAC, HENRY LEE LUCAS, some of them have two or three versions.

Jorge J Prieto

Why don't you write an original serial killer story? I wrote one this passed summer and although it was the hardest, I enjoyed the challenge and the research I had to do on sociopathic behaviors that I had to give my character. You can give your original character some of the traits Gacy possessed. Don't care what anyone thinks. You are a writer and its your job to tell all kinds of stories, including disturbing ones. The news is filled with horrific, unfathomable stories, from NYC politician showing their weiner on twitter to parents murdering their own children. But I digress. Good luck, Emily.

Dan Guardino

I wrote one about a fictitious serial killer and nobody wanted to read it. As a spec I would never do it again.

Owen Mowatt

Yeah, the main reason why I just couldn't get into, Hannibal TV series, was I found the serial killer trope really boring. I felt the writers were having to be overly creative in coming up with reasons/methods for the killers existence, and they just didn't seem real. You basically need a concept that'll knock the genre out of the park, but when you are asked to feel empathy now-a-days FOR a serial killer ala the excellent Dexter, then you know your task is gonna be ten times harder.

Rafael Pinero

Emily, go for it, a lot of people who don't like the horror genre are also going to tell you not to write horror because they don't like it. If you already had a script about a real serial killer, I would read it and if I liked it I would be interested in producing it.

Bill Costantini

The thing about real-life serial killers is this: you can't really make an entertaining film about "them", because there is nothing entertaining about them. Would the average movie-goer want to see a movie about Gacy on date night? Or the average family? Or the average middle-aged couple or senior-citizen couple? I think not, and I could see why even a fictitious serial killer story like Dan's would not want to be read by anyone. What you could do is make a story from the POV of the people who caught them or chased them. But even then...does the average movie-goer want to see that? I think not again. We read the newspaper stories, we saw it on the news, we may have read the book, and we may have seen the documentary. So making a movie about them or the apprehenders is probably not at the top of the list for most movie producers. Another thing about serial killers is this: the subject matter is contrary to America's romanticized and glorified palate of violence. Our taste buds love "good violence", and not true-to-life mass murderer violence. The fictionalization of mass murderers can be successfully accomplished in dark comedies like Natural Born Killers, which directly addresses the nature of fanatical media coverage; our obsession with killers (and even turns them into heroes via the media); and in American Psycho, where we witness the psychotic breakdown of a Wall Street Yuppie. It can be addressed in movies like 7even or Zodiac, which are cat-and-mouse movies with no glorification; or in a movie like Kalifornia, which is a table-turner thriller. But I think it's pretty safe to say that nobody wants to produce a movie about a real-life serial killer, unless that movie is sanitized and is told from the POV of the good guys. And even then...it's not on the top of the list of any producers, and probably even if it's a story that was never told before. The appeal is just not there.

Regina Lee

I'm going to refrain from my own comments because I don't have enough info from the OP to know what kind of story she's telling and if a serial killer story would play to her skill set and her brand as a writer. Instead, here are some highly sought after serial killer projects in Hollywood. Do any of these have any real relevance to the OP? I can't tell. I don't have enough info. http://www.avclub.com/article/darren-aronofsky-will-direct-serial-killer... http://www.thewrap.com/hbo-films-swango-gets-boost-john-mclaughlin-exclu... http://deadline.com/2015/04/cary-fukunaga-anonymous-content-the-alienist... http://variety.com/2015/film/news/leonardo-dicaprio-martin-scorsese-reun... http://deadline.com/2013/08/warner-bros-langley-park-acquire-lost-girls-... Jack the Ripper is also often talked about. I know there was a book that was going to be optioned by a cable TV studio, but the book deal didn't close.

Regina Lee

Note: it does help in the mainstream marketplace for the project to be based on a well-reviewed book. For the indie space, I don't think you'd need a book.

Regina Lee

I hope this demonstrates how seeking consultation from a market-savvy source might be of value to some (not all) writers entering the marketplace. Good luck with the script!

Carol Price

Go for it! Your POV or take about the subject matter could possibly be refreshingly, unexpected and welcomed.

Beth Fox Heisinger

I don't know, Bill, Monster did pretty well. It received critical praise. Charlize Theron won an Academy award for her performance. Anyway, I'll have to kindly disagree as I see interest in the psychological aspects, not so much the gory details. Although, I do think the fictional route based on some truth is better. Seven was very glorified and gory, in my opinion—boy, those fictional mission killers are always a bit over the top. Zodiac was well done. I didn't care for Natural Born Killers, but understood and thought they nailed the disturbing context. There was more going on in American Psycho than a disturbed serial killer. It too was making a statement about the overindulgence in the 80s, self-obsession, hyperbolic importance of trite things, "white washing." You know, the success or whether people will want to see a film all depends on an individual story/film and how well it is executed and who's starring and who's directing. You really can't generalize. Plus, nobody really knows anything in this business, right? Lol! "Louis" in the successful film Nightcrawler was certainly a psychopath who had no problem putting people in harm's way and killed for his personal gain. Had the story continued, I'm sure he would be compelled to kill again and again to "aid" his successful business enterprise, thus becoming a serial killer; defined by the FBI as someone who kills 3 or more people due to abnormal psychological gratification, and that the murders take place over a period of time with "cooling off" periods. The serial killer or mass killer(s) in horror seems to be quite popular, which doesn't interest me at all. I think the subject matter is best in a more grounded, realistic, psychological thriller. Not these over the top, ridiculous, gratuitously gory versions. But then again, to each their own. :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hey Regina, thanks for the links. :) The last thing I heard about Leonardo DiCaprio and "The Devil In the White City" was that the project was put on hold indefinitely. So, I'm excited to see it's confirmed.

Regina Lee

Things may change (they always do), and Leo will probably win the Oscar this year, but as of August, Paramount was making a million-dollar investment in trying to make the movie happen.

Regina Lee

But those prestigious Hollywood serial killer projects may have nothing to do with Emily Ann's question. She doesn't want anyone to think she's "crazy" (her word, not mine). Maybe she's a family comedy writer, known for Disney movies. In that case, for example, it might seem wacky for her to write a dark serial killer movie - at the very least, it would be interpreted as off-brand. We just don't know. Anyhow, good luck! People can rebrand themselves. I know a TV writer who used to write kids' shows, and wrote a very adult drama sample that got her a staff job on FX's JUSTIFIED! Most people would think that's a crazy long shot but she did it. Does it happen often? No.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Great! Thanks for the information, Regina. Funny, I just picked up the book today. :) I think Leonardo would be amazing in this role. H. H. Holmes was unbelievable, just terrifying, calculating — one of the first documented American serial killers. In the latest season of American Horror Story: Hotel, I assumed the hotel owner character was loosely based on Dr. Holmes.

Anthony Cawood

I think it is Beth, though not sure he knew a Gaga ;-)

Bill Costantini

Great points, Regina and Beth. Jack the Ripper is so entrenched in public culture and storytelling that even Spinal Tap humorously referenced him in their "musical", if I recall correctly ("You're a naughty one, Saucey Jack!"). Monster was certainly a table-turner on the highway hooker theme, and Ms. Theron really deserved that Oscar. You might like this article from the L.A. Weekly a while back that was an interview with the writer. http://www.laweekly.com/news/sympathy-for-the-monster-2137441 My favorite fictionalized serial-killer movies are Natural Born Killers, 7even, and Hitchcock's classic, Frenzy, which was at least partly inspired by English serial killer John Cristie, and whose own killing spree was told in 10 Rillington Place. I think one main distinguishing feature in the serial killer movies is this: there is this whole group of movies that are low-budget exploitations and don't really delve too deeply into the psychological profiles, and then there is a better group (low-budget or big-budget) that do a much better job at the psychological probings and in telling the B story (effects on the people doing the apprehending, the killer, the killer's family or victims' family; bunglings of criminal investigators, etc) than the exploitation flicks. I prefer the latter.

Rafael Pinero

Thanks for the links Regina

Bill Costantini

Just for once...I'd love to see Emily actually come back into one of the threads that she starts. Ha-rumph! (Just kidding, Emily....but do come back once in a while.....before we sell your seat.)

Rafael Pinero

Well Regina, with those links you've proved a very good point, there is a market for these kind of movies, I personally prefer biographical instead of creating a fictitious serial killer borrowing the style from the real ones. Also I think it is important to mention that their success will definitely depend on the A- list cast and A-list Director, because as I mentioned earlier a lot of movies of real serial killers have been done, I've watched almost all of them and most of them have been low budget with unknown cast, so they went straight to video. I personally would love to direct a film like these ones, wouldn't mind the unknown cast and the low budget, it would be some kind of a personal film.

Fiona Faith Ross

Answer to the OP. No. I hate violence.

Regina Lee

Hi Rafael, as you can see, I feel it's important to give a market-context (if applicable) in the Lounge. (If someone is playing purely in the indie space, with his own financing, distribution, etc., then he doesn't need to worry about the market.) "I personally prefer biographical instead of creating a fictitious serial killer borrowing the style from the real one." I typically agree with you, BUT one of my fave movies is SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, which is exactly the "fictitious serial killer borrowing the style from the real one." In that case, the "real one" is Ed Gein.

Regina Lee

Quoting Rafael: "I think it is important to mention that their success will definitely depend on the A- list cast and A-list Director, because as I mentioned earlier a lot of movies of real serial killers have been done, I've watched almost all of them and most of them have been low budget with unknown cast, so they went straight to video." In the case of the Aronofsky project, for example, other filmmakers pursued the book rights, but Aronofsky beat them out for the rights.

Johnny Pappas

No thanks but if you have a story to tell (or a documentary to write) then do it.

Anthony Cawood

Great thread and loads of intersting info/views... the very first script I wrote was an adaptation of one of my short stories, subject was a darkly comic look at what could create a serial killer... sold that script to a producer who wants to make a feature of it (hasn't yet). I''ve since written another five shorts with serial killers or proto-sks, I've optioned every one of them and two have been filmed. I've not had such 'luck' in any other genre... My point is that serial killer are endlessly fascinating to readers and viewers, and there seems to be a healthy market for high quality and low quality takes on their stories, be they real or fictious - or some mix of both. So to answer the original questions... I don't think writing a serial killer script makes the writer crazy... rest of society (Fiona excepted), possibly... but they are a very commercially viable sub-genre. Aside - my personal fave is Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, something all too real about that one.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Regina, yes, Silence of the Lambs is one of my all-time faves too, mostly because of the female protagonist. "Buffalo Bill" was really a blend of 6 serial killers. I could name them and why, but that would probably be weird. Lol! I actually met the man who originally developed profiling for the FBI; he started the department. He was doing a book tour... I happened to catch his talk... Anyway, the character "Jack Crawford" was based upon him. The whole film stemmed from his knowledge and his department. The reason I like Silence of the Lambs so much is that despite being complete fiction, taking many liberties, they still grounded it with known truths. Plus, it's just a great movie! I do like biographical, or rather "biographical" in approach. It will be interesting to see how those other films you previously mentioned and posted links about will be developed. :)

Anthony Cawood

Love Silence but think that Manhunter with William Petersen is even better, his descent into the mind of the tooth fairy is a fantastic and compelling transformation! Now going to pop it in the DVD player ;-)

Bill Costantini

Anthony - maybe because it had such a drab and gritty low-budget look (it was shot on 16mm); hardly any soundtrack; not a large multi-set cast; unknown actors and a cast who were not what you'd call very attractive? It almost looked like a home movie. Sometimes those are the most real-looking.

Anthony Cawood

Completely agree Bill, uncomfortably realsitic, and the police never feature in the film either... and made a star of Michael Rooker. Amazingly effective given the budget and other challenges...

Anthony Cawood

And now I'm conflicted... put Manhunter on or Henry... decisions, decisions...

Beth Fox Heisinger

Oh, I really should mention Thomas Harris, the author of the book Silence of the Lambs, as he wrote it in 1988. The profiling which it featured was developed in the late 70s, I think? And the man I mentioned earlier who developed profiling for the FBI is John Douglas, who also has many books about the subject should anyone be interested. :)

Bill Costantini

Beth...you're starting to scare me. Heh-heh.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Anthony, yes, I liked Manhunter. Always love William Peterson. I haven't seen Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. I've stayed away from that one for some reason... I don't know why. Perhaps it's too grim looking? Yes, I agree... there is a strange fascination. My personal interest really stems from crime investigation and forensic psychology. Anyway, I am currently working on a script related to this topic (not Gacy). And I'm about to crack open a book for research, "The Sociopath Next Door." Should be interesting...

Anthony Cawood

Henry is definitely worth a watch (it won, so I am watching as I type), it's grim but not too graphic (budget limitations), but I've always thought that it may get to a pretty close proximity of the reality of a serial killer, absolutely no hollywood gloss at all. Your new script sounds interesting, if you need any feedback at any point let me know.

Beth Fox Heisinger

HaHa, Bill! No, no. No need to be scared. Or, should you be... Dum, Dum, Dummmm.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Thanks, Anthony. I may take you up on that. ;) Oh, and a fun fact for Bill: 1 in 25 ordinary Americans is a sociopath. ;) Don't worry, I'm not one. Really. I don't even have a good poker face. Lol!

Anthony Cawood

How do you work out which are the ordinary ones? ;-)

Beth Fox Heisinger

HaHa! Oops, let me go back and fix my little mistake there... And I'll have to get back to you on that. ;)

Bill Costantini

Beth - I know...I know. Three different writers here all said the same thing to me (you know how they all talk...not me), but they all said "Did you see Beth's new profile pic - what does that remind you of?" And all four of us said the same thing....I mean, all three of them said "when DeNiro went mohawk in Taxi Driver." I said "Never! Not Beth." But these writers...I swear.....Dum, Dum, Dummmm......

Beth Fox Heisinger

Haha! That's hilarious! But, for crying out loud... Okay, I removed my picture because I recently experienced some disturbing harassment. Really. I had no idea what to use for the time being; it was either a detail from a portrait painting or a picture of one of my dogs. So, being an artist I went with the detail. If it's so weird, I guess I'll figure out something else. Sheesh! Lol!

Jorge J Prieto

Lots of great exchanges of info here. I love it BETH, can't wait to hear more of your new project. It's your sociopath a female or male? BTW, you are right there are more sociopaths around that we can imagine and I found out on my research, that they are very smart, manipulative, the list goes on. It really scared me and I found myself studying people I know, looking for hints. Ahh, what we writers do for our art, right BILL? EMILY, where are you, girl?

Beth Fox Heisinger

Okay, I have changed my profile picture for the interim. Please meet Sadie, one of my rescue pit bulls. She's super sweet, not omnipresent nor creepy or scary. I hope you all approve. ;)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Jorge, thanks for your interest. Very much appreciated. :) I am very excited about what I'm working on, but I'm going to stay mum about it. Plus, I don't wish to distract or pull Emily's post towards my project. Hopefully, she'll comment. Soon? Pretty please, Emily? Have you made any decisions? Would love to hear your thoughts. ;)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Well said, CJ. Exactly. The "why" is more intriguing than the "what." Although, sometimes a form of admiration has nothing to do with it. Perhaps it's presenting something quite monstrous in a more well-rounded, three-dimensional way. You don't admire the person but perhaps you better understand them. For example, I was so saddened by the Aileen Wuornos story. She suffered immensely, was mistreated all her life and was mentally ill — I'm not referring to what was presented in the film Monster. Those things certainly are not an excuse for the crimes she committed. She did horrible things. But, if you learn more about her you can see she was a bomb about to go off at any time. Had one person helped, truly helped her during her life — child services, for example — those men would probably be alive. Many professionals think it's a miracle she didn't kill more or that she didn't begin to kill much earlier in her life.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Haha! Yes, Oliver! Love love love pit bulls! :) Actually, I didn't use her picture before because I was aware of your great picture of a black & white dog. Anyway, I'll change my picture again when I have a few more things figured out. :)

Richard Gustason

I would write about a serial killer if it comes up. It's a fascinating subject. I say if you can't get the rights to write about Gacy, then research and come up with one of your own and go from there. And if it some say "that is nuts you're writing about that" then write it because you may have something.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Sure, in some cases, but not all. I don't disagree with you, CJ. :) Plus, people, or audiences, will have different feelings about any given subject. Just saying that better understanding why a person is the way that they are isn't necessarily admiring them.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Personally speaking, I really don't have any "admiration" for these types of characters. I completely understand some people do, and that these characters are often created to appeal to our humanity so we find ourselves rooting for the serial killer, anti-hero, like Dexter. They are designed specifically so that audiences will admire them. I'll become fascinated, sure. But, I certainly have no admiration for someone like Aileen Wuornos, perhaps more like sympathy. I will be impressed by some weird thing, like, wow, this guy can really manipulate people, like H. H. Holmes. It's unbelievable that he was able to build a building for his twisted purposes. He'd hire people to do the work, but no one could see what he was up to. The banks and lenders he fooled to get what he wanted. It's shocking.

Beth Fox Heisinger

About Dexter, I was disappointed by the ending. I felt he should have finally been caught or perhaps perish. No matter his agenda, he was killing people. I think they missed an opportunity to go out with a huge bang. To finally see Dexter go down would be both justified and heartbreaking—people did admire him.

Richard Gustason

I think with Dexter, and my opinion here, is that for Dexter's sake having to think he is free when in his own mind he really isn't is worse then getting caught and going to jail. Our minds can be our best friend AND our worse enemy at the same time. My opinion though.

Beth Fox Heisinger

CJ: Yup, makes perfect sense. :)

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Emily: Here is a list of movies about real serial killers http://www.imdb.com/list/ls000092319/. As previously stated, a film has been made about Gacy. Other popular subjects have been folks like Ted Bundy, Ed Gein (Inspiration for Norman Bates and Leatherface), Henry Lee Lucas and the Boston Stranger. For my money, "Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer" (1986) is probably one of the most disturbing and realistic films about this type of creature. I would consider finding someone more obscure and then write a compelling script. I would forget about Gacy. May I suggest you consider the much lesser known Dean Corll, from my new home state of Texas. He killed nearly as many as Gacy, with a young male accomplice. It's quite a wild story and might be the perfect topic for a new script. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_Corll. But be warned, in doing this kind of project, you would be delving into a very dark realm of sadism and mental disorder. But then again, that's the price a writer pays for attempting to entertain. Panem et circenses ~ Juvenal

Regina Lee

Hi Phillip, for what it's worth, WME reps Texas Monthly, and a lot of us in Hollywood are familiar with Dean Corll.

Bill Costantini

Good disclaimer, Beth - I've just taken your name off of the "No-Fly List". CJ, on the other hand.....you know what....I'm just gonna come out and say it. Look at the names. "CJ Walley." "H.H. Holmes." Both have two initials in their moniker. Both have six letters in their alleged last names. Coincidence? I think not. Both have an "l" and and "e" as the third and fifth letters in their last names. In Italian fortune-telling that goes way, way back to the 1300's, a person with six letters in their last name is a "creator". An "l" in Italian symbology represents "fiendish", and an "e" represents "delight". Put all that together, and CJ is either a serial killer, or makes some kick-ass pizza. Which is it, CJ? (Nice doggie, by the way, Beth.)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Disclaimer? Huh? None given, Bill. ;)

Bill Costantini

Beth - the "admiration" thingie. Phillip - well, there goes your 180-script that you re-wrote 17 times about Dean Corll.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

@Bill: It was two hundred pages and my angle was from telepathic communication between Corll and his horse; and the underlying current of their deep seeded longing for one another...Nay Winnie! Wilbur! It was shaping up as a mini-series on the ill-conceived and ill-fated Serial Killer Network. Sometimes you just have to move on. @Regina: Familiar with Corll in what way? Next week, I'm making a pitch to the 24-hour Necrophile Channel. Any pointers? Heehee!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Ummm, okay, whatever, Bill. Go ahead, have your fun. :)

Jorge J Prieto

Crazy sh.t, discussion going on, but I love it and I thought my screenplay, Rest in Peace, about a funeral director, who not only enjoys sex with dead women that come through his business, but he enjoys watching his own teenage son doing the same. Definitely for the Necrophile (is that a word, Philip?)Chanel. I think is spelled, necrophilia . No??

Anthony Cawood

Jorge, you need to get you script to a German film maker, Jörg Buttgereit ;-)

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Jorge: yes my friend, necrophile is a word. And I'm so glad we can continue this discussion regarding sexual encounters with passive participants. Your screenplay sounds very twisted and intriguing to me.

Jorge J Prieto

@Anthony: Don't know the filmmaker. Get me his info. @Philip: My screenplay, which is in my profile BTW , would never be made as a theatrical, maybe ShowTime or even Fx network maybe.. Has anyone seen American Horror story Hotel? Fierce. Thanks guys.

Anthony Cawood

@jorge that's what they invented IMDB for ;-)

Jorge J Prieto

Thanks again, Anthony. IMDB it is!

Anthony Cawood

I think a skillful writer/film maker can create a serial killer that is both dispicable and interesting, these things are rarely black and white in fiction or fact. In addition to CJs excelent example, I'd cite Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, a film I re-watched due to this very thread. It's loosely based on Henry Lee Lucas and in it Henry is defnitely one of the more sympathetic characters, it's one of the things that makes the film so challenging.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

@ CJ: Thanks for the tip on the IA television movie. I'll see if I can find it on Netflix or Youtube. Dominic West is such a great talent and brings it to the party with all his work. Though a lightweight movie, I was watching "Rockstar" last night and both Dominic and Timothy Spall we're great fun to watch. @Anthony: Though I don't think your advice to Emily to fictionalize a Gacy type character isn't bad, I disagree that serial killers or any other manifestation of evil is too despicable to write about. By the way, the public is fascinated by murderers and evil doers, otherwise, shows like Dateline would be out of business. I call Dateline "the murder of the week show. And for something people don't relate to, they've sure made a long list of films relating to the topic. https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=Films+about+murderers+and+serial+ki.... I contend that the aforementioned shows like Dateline and the aforementioned list of movies on the website link may fall under what I classify as trainwreck entertainment. In our hearts we may know it's horrible to watch; but for some reason, we can't look away. Writing screenplays often allows me to explore the ongoing conflict of good and evil that lies within my soul. Recently this included delving into twisted beliefs of someone like Dynamite Bob Chambliss, who was convicted of murdering four beautiful children, who were attending Sunday school at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hey CJ, I looked at the trailer... It was "Appropriate Adult," right? Great actors. Looks really well done, well-written. Thanks for sharing it. I hadn't seen it before. :) Although, I wondered; is it based on any truth? Or is it all creative license and flare? Has more information been released about the investigation? Behind the scenes, if you will? That's the impression I got from the trailer—it's a "behind the scenes" tale; a speculative "what did really happen?" In the U.S., after a certain amount of time, case records are available to the public. Anyway, yeah, talk about "recreating" Fred West—quite different from what's been reported factually. They certainly made him more of a strong personality, other than what was reported or studied. "Humanized" him. Rosemary was indeed assumed to be the mastermind—an absolute truth to some. I can only imagine what a sensitive subject this must be for England. Talk about sensitive cases, starting soon, the new series about the O.J. Simpson murder trial will begin in Feb. Should be interesting... I remember the court coverage. It's been speculated that the "truths" about the case are now able to be made public—hence the series. Personally, I think O.J. is a narcissistic psychopath. But, what do I know. Lol!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Talk about other serial killer projects with a twist... Perhaps check out "The Voices," starring Ryan Reynolds. It got great reviews. I'm sure it's not for everyone—it's a psychological horror DARK comedy. I have not seen it—yet. My understanding is that it's Ryan Reynolds' performance that makes it worth watching. Although, the writing gave him much to work with. Lol!

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Emily, The John Wayne Gacy story was made for TV quite a few years ago. Unfortunately I can't remember the title. Probably find it on a google search.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hey Anthony C., Phillip... Great points. We, as an audience and society, are fascinated, interested, scared, horrified, moved, etc, by dark subjects—that will never change.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Anthony P., I'm sorry to hear you've had some frustration with your script. ...Yeah, this is a tough subject to capture. Although, it seems to be quite successful in novels — lots of best sellers have been of true crime or crime fiction. Perhaps your tale would do better in a different format. :)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Oh, I found "Appropriate Adult" on YouTube ($1.99) should anyone be interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4X3jiPoOb1M

Beth Fox Heisinger

Emily, it may have already been mentioned, but probably the best Gacy film to date is "To Catch A Killer."

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

I answered above and then went back up to the top. What a fascinating thread folks. Thanks for sharing. I'm one of those people.... totally intrigued with these 'sick' people.

Marcus Ward

This is always going to be an "eggshell" topic because someone out there will get offended, and trust me, there's always that one person that will be. As passionate as you are about the subject judging from your post, it would appear you've done the research. FX is going to have trouble with their OJ series and it's not out yet. I say go for it. Show off your talent and enlighten others

Beth Fox Heisinger

Okay, thanks, CJ. :) Oh, and I found "Appropriate Adult" on Netflix as well. ...Yeah, it's interesting. I've read that Rosemary was more the instigator between the two, that she would approach/trick the victims. She certainly used society's gender bias to appear less involved; "It was mostly him, not me"—especially after Fred killed himself. Anyway, they both were manipulative, horrific monsters.

Julio Novoa Barron

I've seen the story of Gacy on TV. If you can give us a story with a twist, it would be interesting.

Anthony Cawood

Just to back up CJ, Appropriate Adult is a great TV movie, fantastic cast and I think is meant to be pretty accurate, I see it about once or twice a year as my wife is a massive true crime/serial killer fan ;-)

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

@Anthony C: Love Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer and recommended it to young Emily. It's a great film where the lead character is incredibly lethal, conflicted and still engenders sympathy. Michael Rooker is one of my favorite character actors and loved his recent work in "Walking Dead". @Anthony P: If your script is about a serial killer is disturbing people, that might be a good sign you've done your job well. I just finished a horror script last week about a Michael Myers type character. However, with my antagonist, I attempted somebody that wasn't just a faceless/mindless killer; but an abused young man with a definable character arc and explainable reasons for what he becomes. The producer was a bit disappointed that my antagonist wasn't more like Leatherface or Michael. However, as he's re-reading the material, he's beginning to understand there's a method to my madness. He now wants to change far less than he originally did. Last year, I wrote 9 scripts in several different genres. Though I had fun doing them, none of them really effected me emotionally, except for one. When I wrote Four Negro Girls in a Church, I really endeavored to put myself into the minds of people suffering the profound loss of a child. Consequently, I wrote several emotionally charged scenes; and found myself weeping while doing so. It was a really fantastic, creative experience.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

@Julio: There have been three Gacy movies that I know about. The first was the 1992 TV movie titled To Catch a Killer with Brian Dennehy as Gacy and then a feature film called Gacy in 2003 with a guy named Mark Holton in the lead. And finally, Dear Mr. Gacy starring William Forsythe. This supports my contention people are fascinated by these guys.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Beth & CJ... thanks... I just looked up Appropriate Adults on Netflix... thought it was a movie... but when I saw Season 1 Episode 1... uh-oh... I feel a binge coming on. Damn, I should be writing instead. LOL.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hey Bill, Emily has "liked" at least one comment, maybe more, so she's around. Perhaps she is stalking us. Lol! ;)

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

@Syliva: Thanks for posting the Netflix info. Based on CJ's recommendation, I'm putting that show at the top of my list. @Bill I am so flattered that I’m at the top of your list. Be afraid; be very afraid! That last guy that tried to get inside of the dark recesses of that mouse trap I call my subconscious mind ended up losing his car keys for a few days.

Beth Fox Heisinger

To further back up CJ and Anthony C., I had the opportunity to quickly watch 15-20 minutes of "Appropriate Adult, and for Emily, it's a great suggestion as throughout the thread we've discussed coming at a true crime story from a different angle. In "Appropriate Adult" we see and experience the events from the perspective of Fred West's assigned appropriate adult (in the U.S., a social worker). Her character serves as us, the audience, to great effect. Emily, I hope you do check it out, and also the film "Dear Mr. Gacy"— thanks Phillip for the recommendation. I may have to see that one myself. ;)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hey Sylvia, it's a two episode viewing on Netflix, so no binge needed. Lol!

Bill Costantini

Beth - your comment has inspired me to team up Sumo the Script-Eating Dog with Bruno the I-Never-Sleep-and-Eat-Stalkers-for Breakfast German Shepherd. This is one fierce-looking....hey....Bruno....wake up! Phillip - you're at the top of a lot of people's list. Like the Directors of the NSA, the CIA, the FBI, the MI6, Interpol, and the SVR. I hear that even Kim Jung-on has offered three bowls of chicken beaks and two AA batteries for your head. By the way, sorry about El Chapo getting captured. I guess that's gonna dampen your spring get-together in March some what. What are you gonna do with the extra goat?

Debbie Croysdale

Serial Killer films sell. There have already been a couple of films on Gacy, so you need to do a different version. I've caught this thread late........so just answering the original question. Shame I missed the thread of the plot, of the thread.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Well, Bill, I'm glad you feel inspired (LOL!), but my comment was geared towards Emily, a young writer. Hopefully she benefits from all this and feels inspired to write the story she wishes to write. ;)

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Bill: Extra goat meat? Round these parts there's no such thing. Let's just say it's no country for old goats. And, I have a really large freezer out back, if you know what I mean.

Bill Costantini

Beth...I must confess....Emily is my alter ego. I carefully combined the qualities of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, plus Ziggy Stardust/David Bowie, plus Tony Clifton/Andy Kaufman, plus Clark Kent/Superman, plus Sasha Fierce/Beyonce, and....viola! Emily/Bill. Phillip - nice takedown. Three nice lines that methodically and consciously ascended. bang, Bang, and BANG! Am I a great set-up man, or what? Wait a minute - you're the set-up man! Get back to the right of me, Mister! And thanks for missing the show at the Indian Bingo Hall last weekend. My back-up plan - the song-and-dance routine with Sylvia and the Sexy Seniors - reached new lows!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Again, Bill, my response is: palm to forehead. LOL! ...Ya know, some of us are trying to have a sorta-kinda-round-about-perhaps-could-be-construed-as-a-constructive conversation here. Just saying. Lol! ;)

Bill Costantini

Beth - my apologies. Bill will depart, but Emily...she might be back.

Beth Fox Heisinger

What? I can't dish it back? Lol! ...No need to go, Bill. Really. :)

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Just finished Ep. 1 of Appropriate Adult.... totally riveting ... Liked the fact that it's from her pov... an ordinary woman with stress of her own, and is a fish out of water as an AA..at the beginning. Fantastic. Beth: Were only 2 episodes shot and more coming later... or was that it? Going back to see Ep. 2 now.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hey Sylvia, I don't know. Perhaps CJ could better answer your question. I saw it referred to as a film as well as a series??? Perhaps they broke up the film into two parts for airing? Or, when it first aired in England it was in two parts? ...And that's why it's two episodes on Netflix and listed as a film on YouTube?

Richard Gustason

I am seeing some comments about not writing it. Emily, I have said it earlier that if some people don't want you to write it because of this and that, then write it. I am not going to stop a creative from doing magic.

Bill Costantini

Beth - I know sometimes I can overdo the attempted funnies a bit. I should have never taken CJ Walley's "Quick-Fire Stream-of-Consciousness Comedy" Classes (1-6). He just changed my brain, and I. Can't. Change, It. Back. Seriously, though...on the Appropriate Adult topic.....I didn't see the movie, but I remember reading an interview a while back with the police official overseeing that case. He thought the movie was horrendous in the way that it distorted facts, and in the way that it dramatized things that never took place or things that were never said. He did think that the depiction of Fred West was pretty spot-on though. There are some police interviews with Fred West on youtube. He almost sounds like a regular Joe at times, talking to a bunch of chums at the pub. Regarding the Unabomber....there is a very interesting and well-written article in today's Yahoo News about him. This writer - Holly Bailey - really covers a lot, and it's going to be a six-part series over the next six days. Here's the link, for those who might have missed it. I think all of you will like this. http://news.yahoo.com/letters-from-a-serial-killer--inside-the-unabomber...

Anthony Cawood

It was a two part TV movie/special, won a Golden Globe and a bunch of BAFTAs.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Haha, Bill! I know, right?! I took CJ's comedy classes too, because, sometimes, I worry prison changed me too much, ya know? Made me too hard. Gotta see the brighter side of life. Laugh more, right? ;) Good thing I got that teardrop tattoo removed.

Beth Fox Heisinger

....and I'm kidding. Just wanted to clear that up right away, Bill. Didn't want to worry or scare you. Lol!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Thanks, Anthony C! :) Yeah, Bill, that's what I assumed about "Appropriate Adult," despite it being well done. Never let the truth get in the way of a great story, right? Lol! Anyway, I always regard "based on" or "inspired by" with practical skepticism. :) Thanks for the link about the upcoming Unabomber series.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Wow.... yes it seems like Ep. 2 was the end. Thank goodness. Emily Watson was fantastic as the Appropriate Adult (Social Worker). Enjoyed it a lot. Held off on my dinner until it ended. Thank you CJ for introducing us to a serial killer story with a different slant. XO

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Okay, now back to Bill Constantini... "My back-up plan - the song-and-dance routine with Sylvia and the Sexy Seniors - reached new lows!" Not sure what exactly you mean by this comment. Please explain. Because I don't get it.

Bill Costantini

Sylvia - nothing to do with you, unless you're Sylvia the Tattoed Double-Jointed Lady from the St. Louis Fair. But then again, if you were, you'd be saying " I can't help it that the limbo bar was too low - and where's our money?"

Rafael Pinero

Thats right Anthony, well said

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

@Bill... Hahahahahahaha... No, I'm not the Sylvia the Tattoed Double-Jointed Lady from the St. Louis Fair. But maybe I'm from Shakespeare's... "Who is Sylvia". LOL

Bill Costantini

Sylvia - well I'm glad it's you and not her. Because I don't have the money. If she wants the money, she has to talk to the money person: Beth.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Whoa, wait. There's money? Lol!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Sylvia, I just finished "Appropriate Adult." Dominic West and Emily Watson's performances are truly great. For those who don't care for violence, this film has none—which is amazing, considering the subject matter. I also appreciated the seeming respect for the actual victims, showing their pictures at the end. However, the actress, Monica Dolan, portraying Rosemary West totally creeped me out. She really doesn't have much screen time, but what she had she made a helluva presence. She's terrifying—that cold stare. Shivvver!

Jorge J Prieto

The OJ mini series, it's by Ryan Murphy. He loves to push the envelope on everything he does. Beth, you are right OJ is narcissistic sociopath. I had to do some deep research for my sociopath killer in , The Donor, and are the signs are there in, Mr.Simpson. Narcissism mix with sociopathic condition, bad combination. Shit, I wish these thread was around back in August. But it still helpful for my rewrite. Thanks, everyone!

D.W. Lynch

Movies about serial killers, especially ones as well known as Gacy, come off to me as murder porn. That's not to say that you can't find something interesting in the story that's more than just exploitation. "My Friend Dahmer" strikes me as an interesting idea. I've been meaning to read that script for a while now.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Perhaps it's time to return to Emily's thread topic. Whaddaya say? ;)

Beth Fox Heisinger

I understand the use of the term "murder porn," and sure, it could apply to some films about killers, but certainly not all. It's often best to consider each film by its own terms and intention, not by generalizations. Stories about serial killers appeals to the basic and powerful instinct in us all—survival. In many ways, serial killers are for adults what monsters are for children—they scare us. Most people cannot comprehend the workings of a pathological mind and what horrors it can commit, so it fascinates us.

Owen Mowatt

Hey! Quit changing your profile picture! I keep thinking there's five of you.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Geez, sorry Owen. LOL! I'm truly surprised how changing images has jarred the community zen or mojo—not my intention. But, I'm done. It's all good. Let's just say I had my reasons, and leave it at that. ;)

Richard Willett

Well, obviously no one is interested in serial killer stories because look how little discussion there has been of them here. Not! Emily, the thing is it has to be original. People are eternally fascinated by evil and by the terrible fates that befall victims of certain crimes. That will never change. I'm still working on a new serial killer script, which I've been told is very original (it was in the top 20% of the Nicholl this year). The only thing I would warn you about is that the research (which I did about two years ago now) was fascinating, but it still haunts my dreams. It's tough subject matter in more ways than one.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Richard, so true. I've been doing a ton of research... I've learned a lot, but it's difficult at times—as you said, "haunting."

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

I've made a list of all the serial killers mentioned on this thread. I've heard of Dahmer, Bundy, Gacy,...don't know H.H. Holmes or the others. Plan to read up on them all. If they were local, we may not have heard of them up here in Toronto. Years ago I read a book on the... titled either the Red River or Green River Serial Killer... if my memory serves me he stalked the north west. It was fascinating. It went on for years before they caught him.

Bill Costantini

When I worked in Cook County, IL, government, I had asked Dr. Robert Stein, the long-time Cook County Medical Examiner, about the 1978 exhumation process of the Gacy victims. Dr. Stein examined the bodies of the nurses killed by Richard Speck in 1966; the nearly 300 people who died in a plane crash in Chicago in 1979; and the still-unsolved Tylenol murders of 1982, where 7 or 8 people died because Tylenol products had poison placed in them (and which led to the tamper-proof packaging of products in America). But when I asked Dr. Stein about the Gacy exhumations, which took place during Christmas week, 1978, he said "I still dream about it." And that was 15 years later. And to think, Gacy should have been sent back to Anamosa State Prison for another offense he committed in Chicago prior to the mass murders (see one of my first comments), but due to a communications error, Anamosa never found out about it. If they had - Gacy would have been back in jail for parole violation during that time period of the 33 murders, and the murders would have never happened - at least not when they did. What a double tragedy.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Sylvia, it's the Green River Killer, here in the Seattle area—Gary Ridgway. Horrifying, devastating case. He was convicted of killing 49 women, but later confessed to killing twice as many.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Okay, everyone, perhaps we should take a break from all this dark stuff. You know, watch a few cute cat videos or something. Lol!

Rafael Pinero

Dark stuff is cool

Lindbergh E Hollingsworth

It's not about "writing about a serial killer" ... it's what is so unique about a particular serial killer that gives us the moments that separate one serial killer from the other. Good reading is John Douglas' MIND HUNTER. Douglas was one of the leaders in setting up the profiling back in '70s with the F.B.I.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yup, we already talked about John Douglas. Great resource. :)

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

That's it Beth. Gary Ridgway. It was a very suspenseful read. Last question...Was it ever made into a movie? Now back to work. xo

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yes, it has, Sylvia—one film in 2005, "Green River Killer" and a TV mini-series in 2008; "The Capture of the Green River Killer" based upon Sheriff David Reichert's book, "Chasing the Devil: My Twenty-Year Quest to Capture the Green River Killer." It starred Tom Cavanagh. I've only seen the mini-series. Oh, you mentioned an interest in studying H.H. Holmes... There's a pretty good documentary on Netflix, "H.H. Holmes: America's First Serial Killer."

Beth Fox Heisinger

...And I just found another one, Sylvia, "Green River," some film made in 2008? ...They could have at least come up with different titles, maybe "Ridgway," or something? Lol!

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

@Beth And don't forget the CCR song "Green River" that Gary Ridgway used to sing while dumping the bodies. "If you get lost, come on home to Green River"... heh, heh heh!

Bill Costantini

I used to drink Green River Soda back in the 1980's and 1990's. You're not telling me that I was drinking........

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Bill: No, you're safe. Green River Soda was bottled overseas with blessed water from the Ganges River.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Thank you Beth. I'll check them out. My, you're so resourceful, I appreciate all that info. Bill & Phillip: that' just too funny.

Bill Costantini

Sylvia - that's Phillip for you. He never stops writing, and is a gifted creative at the highest level. He can turn honey into hepatitis. He's got some really creative powers. Or hepatitis. Seriously, though...as a kid, we used to play in some of the abandoned buildings that were a part of the brewery that made Green River Soda. The old main factory building is now lofts and condos. If only those old walls could talk, they'd probably say something like "10 year-olds shouldn't be smoking and playing cards. Get out of here before I call the cops! And what happened to the happy cat videos? Nobody, and I mean NOFRICKINGBODY, obliged. You writers...I swear...what's a writer gotta do to get some happy cats in here? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iPMazni3FA

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hey guys, when I first moved to Washington State, I lived south of Seattle in Auburn, a few miles from the Green River. I used to go running along it—the more populated, safe business areas with trails, of course. This was in the late 90s. Ridgway wasn't apprehended until 2001. I distinctly remember the news reports: "another body found." It was horrifying. ...And John Douglas contributed to the investigation.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Haha! Thanks for the cat video, Bill. :) 'Cause, forgive me, I fail to see the humor in these cases.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

@Beth: Sometimes things aren't in the fates. A case of "in the wrong place at the wrong time". When the LA riots broke hour after they announced the Rodney King verdict, I was driving at the intersection of Florence and Normandy about an hour before all hell broke loose. An hour later, truck driver Reginald Denny was being assaulted at the aforementioned location while I was looking at houses in Lakewood with my realtor. Two hours later, I was watching the news saying to myself, "That's the last time I'll take that shortcut."

Beth Fox Heisinger

Phillip, Bill, well said and so true. :) I think we all have had some sort of slight brush, or been in a location where something terrible has happened, or had an uneasy realization, about both the beauty and horrors of life—which again, is why this subject holds such interest. :) And, Bill, yeah, I remember when one victim was found closer to town, let's just say, and I promptly found myself a new route to run. I kept having nightmares that I'd stumble upon a body... I mean, how many times have we heard, "A runner this morning found a body." Yikes! It all was so foreign too. I had no clue about the "underbelly" of the area. I had never lived near a big city before. When he was arrested and shown on TV, I couldn't believe how evil he looks. He truly does. Sure, he has that "every man" thing, but his eyes, his face. Chilling.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

@Beth: When I look at what fragile creatures we humans are it's really a wonder when someone survives to a ripe old age. I've had guns pointed at me by police officers on two occasions and once by an angry parking lot owner in Hollywood. But that was in my younger days. I'm a fairly tough looking guy and I can't imagine what young women go through while jogging and even walking at night. A few years ago, I saw an attractive young girl walking home in a bad neighborhood in LA near my rehearsal studio and felt like saying ,"Are you crazy? You shouldn't be out here." But who knows what her situation was and whether she could afford transportation. Where I live, there are some beautiful forested parks where hardly anybody goes on a weekday and I sometimes see young women jogging on the trails and deliberate on the danger of doing so. And in the nicer parts of Austin area, I think people think they're safe. One day at one of these parks, I pulled in the empty parking lot with my SUV with my mountain bike in the back. I was wearing sweat pants, black wife beater tee shirt, black Raybans, leather gloves and a backwards black baseball cap. A young women pulled into the parking lot, saw me getting out of my car as was about to unload my bike and made a hasty retreat. At first I was offended but then thought, "Good for her, she probably thought I was a potential danger." I pulled out my bike and went for a ride pn the otherwise empty trail.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yes, it is amazing that we have survived and endured. :) Geez, Phillip, you were all dressed in black, Ray-Bans, cap backwards... I probably would go the opposite way too. Lol! ;) But, I'll add, just because one happens to be a woman does not automatically make her a victim. It doesn't. It's really about choices, putting yourself in an unsafe position—and sometimes it's hard to avoid by one's situation. I never felt vulnerable running along the Green River. I knew I was safe. I was more worried about stumbling across something... BUT, getting back to the topic, a lot of victims are tricked or lured in order to get them isolated... In "Silence of the Lambs" with "Buffalo Bill" they borrowed Ted Bundy's trick of pretending to be injured, wearing a cast on his arm, asking a woman to help him pick up something, a bunch of papers that he dropped near his vehicle, or load something into his car. Gacy tricked some of his victims by luring them with the promise of a job. These killers are clever. Anyone can become a victim—that's what is so terrifying. Real life boogiemen.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

My experience was when a friend/classmate of my daughter's was abducted and found murdered 3 days later... A guy called her house and pretended to be a photographer for a track & field magazine. That he wanted to take photos of her and the rest of the team... they were 11 years old at the time... so the nanny told him she was away at summer camp and will be back next week. That night, the nanny then told the mother about the call. The mother was an executive with a large advertising company, so didn't think too much about it. Photographers take pictures of events. The following week the photographer called back. The nanny took the call and remembered he had called the week before and immediately put Allison on the phone. Allison told him she had to call her mother for permission, which she did. Her mother said okay but be back by 2:30, we're leaving for the cottage at 4. It was a Friday. The photographer called again five minutes later and Allison told him her Mom said it was okay to go. He told her to be the stadium near the university by 11:00 am. The whole team will be there. So off she went. Took the subway to the meeting place ... never to be seen alive again. My nightmare's were.... I drove past that corner where the Stadium is... every day, Monday to Friday at about 11 am. That particular morning I had to drive my husband to work as he was taking a flight to the States. So went by the Stadium at 9:30 am. Later, it haunted me for years. I knew in my heart of hearts that I would have seen her and recognized her if I had driven by at my usual time. She and my daughter were in the same classes since junior kindergarten. I knew her and her family very well. Well, she was killed. They even interviewed this guy and his girlfriend gave him an alibi (don't they all,,, I don't get this women) The pressure was on. So after the alibi, he left to live in Vancouver. Ten years later, there was a police conference in Vancouver... during that time a few prostitutes were murdered. The lead detective in Allison's case was at the conference and was discussing with a detective from Vancouver, about the prostitute murders. And wouldn't you know it, one of the names was the same as the guy whose girlfriend gave him an alibi. So they agreed to put pressure on him in Vancouver, hoping he'd run back to Toronto. Which he did. They also knew he'd go back to the Hard Rock Cafe where he used to hang out. Which he did. The undercover cops hung out and did exactly what you see on tv. they got his dna from his cigarette butts and his beer. Then they him. It was almost 10 years to the day that he abducted and murdered her.It All the friends that were 11 at the time, were now 21 years old. All grown up. They went to court every day during the trial. I went most days except the ones with the gory details. After the murder I put my daughter back on the bus when she was going to grade 7. She hated me for it. Didn't understand at that age why she had to be on the bus. No more going to the corner store on her own or anywhere for that matter. It was worse for me when she went off to university. A huge relief for her, I'm sure. All I could do is pray. Now that she's a mother, she totally gets it. I am just now writing that story/script. It's called RIPPLES. I'm on page 60. Agonizing about the ending now... can't figure out how to end it though. -Sylvia

Beth Fox Heisinger

That's a helluva story, Sylvia—an absolute tragedy. I'm so sorry. I have to say, I'm amazed at the mother's ease about this "photographer." I'm sure she's haunted by her decision that awful day. Sounds like a very difficult story to write, especially since you know the victim and her family. Are you writing it as a true story? Or did you change names, etc.?

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Sylvia: I just read your post and man, that's a horribly said story. But this for a very compelling script. Great title too.

Beth Fox Heisinger

A side note: There's another documentary on Netflix, "Killer Legends"—I thought it may be of some interest. It investigates the origins of four urban legends and the true crimes that may have inspired them: the killer with the hook for a hand, the candy man, the babysitter with the caller/killer in the house, and the killer clown. I'm always interested in the truth behind stories. ;)

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

No, the story I'm writing is basically from the POV of the Protagonist (me, I guess) actual events will be used but only how we were affected.... no real names will be used... just inspired by true events. We also had phone calls... he took her little purse with a little address book in it ... which had all her little friends' phone number. Ripples is the ripple effect when tragedy strikes and how it impacts so many families & neighbors , even a city... almost as much as the actual family. Especially when a child goes missing and is then found dead. A blessing of sorts that it was only 3 days when they found her dumped under a bridge next to a creek. She was found by 2 young boys when they arrived to fish in that creek. Imagine the impact on them finding a nude dead body. I think they were 12 years old. And how you the know he's still out there and have to live with that fear for 10 years as it turned out. Everyone's still scared for their children. It would be a different story if the jerk had been found right away. Still horrible, but at least no one had to worry that he's still out there. Not the case here unfortunately. A Manager in L.A. who's waiting for this when I'm done... didn't want it to become a story with a trial attached in the second half. To stay with the family and probably end it on the 'sting' when the swat team breaks into his apartment or something. Still thinking hard on how to end it. Maybe make that scene an Epilogue. I don't mind sharing this. His name is Frances Roy. He was a tall man... to me he looked like he was of Canadian-Indian descent... pock-marked red face... had long black shiny hair in a pony tail when he appeared in court. The courtroom was packed every single day. The irony of that is the French school the girls went to was named after a French novelist... Gabriella Roy. In French it's pronounced Roah. At one point, not sure if he still is, he was in the same prison as Paul Bernardo, another Canadian piece of cake. He and Karla Homolka killed 3 girls, one of them her own 13 year old sister. The first body was found on their wedding day. Later revealed they had video of the torture. Karla made a deal with authorities and only got 12 years... Their house was bulldozed after the trial. Karla moved to Montreal for a while, then to an island in the Caribbean... a journalist tracked her down and discovered Karla had a husband and a couple of children of her own. Go figure. Where are child services I'd like to know. Okay I'm done. I'm all revved up... back to writing. :-))

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Dear Beth, I'm always totally amazed about how much information you have in the pretty head of yours. Thank you so much! I'll check out it on Netflix. XO

Beth Fox Heisinger

Again, Sylvia, what a tragedy. Wow. Phone calls from this guy?!!! The fear, the children... God, it's just horrific! Awful! My heart goes out to all effected. The angle you're taking sounds really solid. The approach you're thinking for the end works well too. I love the title; got it right away. Anyway, if you ever need another pair of eyes, let me know. I'd love to read it. :) Oh, and yeah, I'm familiar with the married killers, "Barbie and Ken." Sickos, those two.

Ilhamsah Dwikurniawan Putra

No it's not a bad idea! Go wild, tell your story.

Rafael Pinero

There's already a movie about the Barbie and Ken killers in Canada

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

There probably is Rafael.... but I've never seen it.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Thank you for the offer, Beth. I hope to get it done soon. xo

Richard Willett

I agree, Sylvia, that something changes when these events strike close to home. Literally days before I was to start the first draft of my serial killer script, a dear friend of mine was viciously murdered. I had never known anyone that had happened to before. It does indeed ripple out and impact so many people. I don't listen to the news the same way anymore. I now know for certain that whatever horrible thing I'm hearing about happened to a real person, and that real people, because of it, will never be the same. My friend was a great supporter of my writing, and of writers in general, and in the most terrible way imaginable she offered me a final gift, because her death gave my script its soul.

Rafael Pinero

@Sylvia, the móvil is calles Karla (2006), it is Pretty good actually, I saw it in Canadian Netflix... Check it out if you can

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Oh Richard, I totally understand. I'm so sorry for your loss. It's like most things, if you haven't walked in those shoes, your life wouldn't have had the same impact. In terms of writing, yes, most definitely, it have a huge impact on your soul and your emotions that you can emote onto the page. Did they catch the guy that killed your friend?

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

@Rafael... that's great to know. I live in Canada so I'll check it out on Netflix if it's still there. I tried to watch the H.H, Holmes movie, but Netflix Canada doesn't have it. It must have been only in the States. Thank you.

Richard Willett

Thanks, Sylvia. He killed himself shortly after he killed her.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Yikes Richard. So sad.

Jorge J Prieto

Anyone here, thoughts on writing about a female, sociopath, serial killer? I have to say females are so much fun to write and juicy because they sure know how to seduce and lie , a lot more sexy than the male. I know you ladies all agree, plus women are smarter creatures.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Hey Sylvia, the H.H. Holmes documentary is also available to rent on Amazon, and it's free on Hulu: http://www.hulu.com/watch/196878

Beth Fox Heisinger

Jorge, with female serial killers, "sexy" has little to do with it, generally speaking — that's a fictional creation. :)

Jorge J Prieto

Smart females are sexy, in a non sexual way and sociopaths are smart. This I found in my research, the smart and narcissistic part, I mean. Speaking of smart and beauty, like your new photo, Beth, the best one. Hope you keep up. Just hope, Sadie? is your dogs name? Hope, she's not too hurt, now that you took her so quickly? Sorry, Emily. I'm out of your thread for good.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Sadie just goes with the flow, Jorge. Lol!

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

Dear Beth, we don't get Hulu in Canada. We probably will in the future ... it took us a while before Netflix arrived as well. I was so jealous of my friends south of the border... but as soon as Netflix arrived.... I must have been their first customer... didn't realize it until I was in the Bahamas in Dec... that Netflix tailors each country's streaming. We don't get everything the U.S gets... Bahamas doesn't have the same slate as Canada or the US... and around the world, that's how it goes. Thanks anyway Sweetie.

Sylvia Marie Llewellyn

@Beth... Thanks again for trying... but no go on Hulu... I'll check out Amazon tomorrow... It's almost midnight here now. XOXOXO

Beth Fox Heisinger

Dang! Sorry, Sylvia. Well, I've seen it on YouTube as well, although when searching just now all I could find was some other film, "Murder Hotel, The Story of America's First Serial Killer," which is a good documentary too... Anyway, the first one I mentioned is available to rent on Amazon. It's a John Borowski film.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Sorry again, sweetie. Get some rest. xxoo

Dan MaxXx

Erik Jacobsen it’s not a real story. It is a fictional movie of a real murder. Tarantino is an entertainer. He is not a Historian.

Dan Guardino

I wrote one that is in pre-production and I am currently writing one I might want to produce when I am finished.

Beth Fox Heisinger

My two cents... Tarantino making a film about the Manson murders makes me feel sick to my stomach. How horrible indeed.

Dan Guardino

Beth. I second that.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Beth: I agree about a Tarantino Manson project. It should be dead and buried along with Charlie.

Nina Berlin

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood appears to be a story about an actor and stuntman set against the backdrop of Manson Murders. So it could be something people aren't expecting. I wonder if QT will write some long monologues for Manson's character? Or he will merely be a peripheral character.

Emily Ann Jefferson

Holy shit, my topics blow up

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