Monday, May 08, 2006

The things that haunt a ghost writer.



They're never your books, no matter how much sweat you put into them. The person you're writing for always has a cast of characters and a set-up. To call what they give you a plot would be kind. Ego is always involved, although I've been very lucky so far, but I have a feeling I'm going to have trouble with this new client. He's written a novel, self-published, and he wants to turn it into a movie.

So, this isn't exactly a ghost assignment, but it's close. The producers have hired me to adapt this vanity-press potboiler into a screenplay for a run and gun, six actors and two locations blockbuster that used to be called a Drive-In movie but is now Direct-to-DVD.

But before I could write the screenplay, I had to read the novel, which was hard, because there is no story. None. Not a story to be found in all of the 300+ pages. Whenever I thought I saw a story coming down the road, it turned off into a rutted path of digression over golf, Arizona flora or a character we'd never hear from again, but for some reason, we had to know about their car and, if he was a tough guy, we would endure a penis joke. And no, they were never good penis jokes.

So it's up to me to come up with penis jokes that are, you know, actually jokes. Not to mention a plot, motivations for characters that are are more complex than convenient, and most important, a plausible reason for a young woman to take off her shirt in the first three minutes.

That I can do.

People always ask about this kind of work for hire and wonder how I'd feel if the thing became a huge hit, making millions for my client while I was paid a Burger King wage. Ladies and gentlemen, I could be wrong, but I don't think this will be the Da Vinci Code. There's not enough lipstick in the world to brighten up this pig.

More as the production moves forward.

It's Monday. Time for work.

5 comments:

M. G. Tarquini said...

The obvious question, David is:

If it has no plot, why does somebody want to turn it into a movie?

David Terrenoire said...

The answer to that is simple: money.

The man has enough money that he can carry this vanity thing into film.

It's my job to take the guy's basic cast, the central idea, and add enough story and structure that audiences won't rush screaming from the theater, assuming it makes it into theaters.

If they flee the acting, sound, direction, camera work, lighting, makeup, and music, well, those are not in my department.

James Lincoln Warren said...

So, why aren't you a member of my organization, the Professional Hack Authors RecogniTion Society (PHARTS)?

Our motto: "Excuse me."

Stephen Blackmoore said...

This should be easy.

Act 1:
Hottie takes off top during langorous exposition scene showing Good Guy and Bad Guy. Hottie takes off top for no discernible reason but no one cares because she's a Hottie.

Bad Guy does something to piss off Good Guy. Probably kidnapping Hottie. Hottie gets naked again.

Act 2:
Good Guy pursues Hottie and Bad Guy through swamp / jungle / streets of Sanduskie, Ohio. Meets Inexplicable Sidekick & Comedy Relief and Hottie 2, who is actually hotter than Hottie but because she can use a gun and drink Good Guy under the table she is relegated to supporting cast and sexual tension.

GG, H2 and IS/CR defeat assorted Goons but are eventually captured by Bad Guy. Throughout act, Hottie and Hottie 2 are naked for assorted shower / jungle pool / bathroom changing scenes.

Act 3:
Good Guy is beaten up by Bad Guy. GG discovers that Hottie 2 has been killed and IS/CR has been beaten to a pulp, though still able to throw off one liners. GG vows vengeance, mostly because he never actually got any with Hottie 2. GG and IS/CR escape BG.

Montage scene of gun loading, belt buckling, shoe shining. More dead Goons.

GG battles BG with IS/CR stating obvious facts ("We've got company") and bizaare pop culture references that make no sense, but could be construed as vaguely sexual ("He's got bigger guns than Paris Hilton's masseuse!").

GG kills BG, kisses Hottie, who is topless for some reason no one is quite sure of, but that's okay because no one was watching anything else, anyway. IS/CR throws off one liner. Roll credits.

David Terrenoire said...

stephen,

You've saved my job! Thanks, dude!