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Sharing your ideas

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#1 matt


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Posted 08 November 2011 - 12:25 AM

A lot of people are reluctant to talk about their ideas for movies. It's understandable. However, this is something I saw on a scriptwriter's site recently (http://eyesondeck.ty...an-amateur.html)

Writers are smart people, and it is generally hard to tell the difference between someone who’s pretending, and someone who has an actual career. HOWEVER, there is one very-common point of conversation that immediately blows the top off any writer’s cover, and exposes him for the amateur he really is:

The fear of having his script STOLEN.

Yup. That’s right. If you complain to others about having your spec script ripped off, YOU ARE AN AMATEUR.

Why, you ask?

Because working writers know that IDEAS DON’T MEAN SHIT. Everyone has great ideas—sellable, fresh, genius, spicy, new, amazing ideas. What makes a writer a writer is how they ACTUALIZE these ideas on the page.

You can have the best idea in the world, but it’s your FINISHED SCRIPT that is going to get that idea sold. And you will LOSE more than you will GAIN by keeping your cool new concept all to yourself.

What do you think?
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#2 writerly


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Posted 08 November 2011 - 12:55 AM

Absolutely correct from my experience writing for a bunch of TV networks in Canada, the U.S. and UK.

Ideas are a dime a dozen.
The muse is on a party line.
The only thing that counts is how an idea is executed and that's a script.


#3 primaveranz


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Posted 08 November 2011 - 02:49 AM

Sounds like a lot of good writers with writer's block looking for ways to get people with good ideas to spill them.

Glad I'm an amateur and MS lets me get my ideas on the screen without having to rely on anyone else. wink.gif

Mind you, I suppose you can always sue them later on after they do all the hard work and turn it into a blockbuster..... laugh.gif

"If we only use 1/3 of our brain, what's the other 1/3 for?"

#4 Armanus


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Posted 08 November 2011 - 03:18 AM

On the one hand I see the point and agree with it. But on the other, if I were to have a great idea and someone else preemptively actualized it, then how does that benefit me at all? I think there is merit in the idea of keeping your ideas to yourself, or more specifically only sharing your ideas with those who will aid you in the process rather then take your idea and try to claim it as their own.
There are, I am sure, writers who lack ideas. If I have an idea and don't intend to write it, then I wouldn't mind sharing it. If I did intend to write it, why would I give the idea to them?

So both sides IMO have merit. Are those who fear having ideas stolen amateurs? Probably. But if I have a killer story idea I want to make something out of, I'll gladly accept that judgement to ensure I am the one who actualizes it, thank you very much cool.gif

#5 kkffoo


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Posted 08 November 2011 - 02:19 PM

I'm not SURE, I do struggle to take it seriously people who write ARTICLES telling you all professionals LAUGH AT X ...hmm do I HAVE jam in my caps lock key?

#6 Chris Ollis

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 03:39 PM

If ideas are a dime a dozen and the important bit is the execution, surely these people shouldn't be stealing other peoples ideas when its so easy to come up with their own?

I know of one Moviestorm user who takes a very, very dim view on story theft, and quite rightly so sad.gif
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#7 andy_price


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Posted 08 November 2011 - 05:49 PM

enless, you have a very unique storyline, which is very rare, I see no problem talking about your ideas.

but in my opinion, there are not many unique storylines... example, how many films have you seen with this storyline... boy meets, girl, girl has boyfriend, love triangle. or a varation of the subject.....


#8 luxaeternam


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Posted 08 November 2011 - 07:25 PM

The theory says that there are NO new story lines. If this is the case, the pro who expects wannabe writers to share their second rate ideas has no business calling himself a pro...

The debate is part of a wider question related to the increased possibility for anyone to write on the web. If I had a cent(ime) for every 'journalist' who complains about ordinary people expressing their opinions on the internet, I would be able to quit my day job and take up amateur filmmaking full time!

Right, I'm off to pen the first of my Nobel prize winning novels... :-)
"Les miroirs feraient bien de réfléchir un peu plus avant de renvoyer les images" : Jean Cocteau

#9 willshetterly


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Posted 08 November 2011 - 07:52 PM

On the one hand, Hollywood sometimes buys ideas; ideas can have some value in some contexts, but most people have to have the right connections for that to matter.

On the other hand, every writer I know hates hearing other people's ideas for stories because, without being developed, story ideas are boring. They're like a description of a joke rather than the joke itself. 99.99% of the time, the execution makes the idea.

So, no conclusions, but if you're worrying about someone stealing your ideas, stop now and start worrying about doing more creative work.

#10 rgr


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Posted 08 November 2011 - 08:24 PM

This is a particularly topical post considering Joe Frazier just died. After Sly Stallone spent weeks researching the Joe Frazier story (including sit down time with the champ himself), he spontaneously "came up with the idea" for Rocky.

Now, mind you, although "Rocky" very closely tracked the events of Joe's life, the story really wasn't about boxing, or Joe Frazier. But it made for a very successful framework for the story Sly did tell. Would the script that got "executed" have been as interesting or compelling if it was about the personal transformation of an accountant? I doubt it.

I read a lot of writing blogs and sometimes get a little chaffed at those that conflate the art of writing with the business of selling scripts. If all you care about is selling a script, ideas are a dime a dozen and you probably don't care if they are yours or not. I can't name a single successful writer this is true of though. That doesn't mean people can't make money that way, just that I'll probably never know their names.

I wonder what the OP considers a "professional" writer? If we use other professions as a guide, there should be some specialized skills that requires full time focus in order to master them. Usually, there is also some notion of scarcity of resources and extraordinary effort required to obtain them. Does the apply to writing?

I say that if you write, you are a writer. If you sell your work, you are a paid writer. I think there is probably room in this thread to discuss "selling out" vs "selling art", but I don't know that the OP was advocating for one or the other.

#11 Armanus


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Posted 08 November 2011 - 09:26 PM

I think at best the line between professional and amateur is blurred. The current trend is for "professional" writers to write scripts for endless remakes, reboots, regurgitation, etc. while the writers who dare to write original works are marginalized. If they aren't selling those scripts, then would that work be considered amateur? And what is being sold and created, the aforementioned re-hacks (I coined that myself wink.gif ), would that not be considered theft of someone else's idea, fan base, etc.
So in essence, is the lesson here really that professional writers won't steal original ideas because they know Hollywood has zero interest in them? Is the only true professional writer someone who just rewrites a past movie?
This is all on the assumption that professional means paid and amateur means not paid, of course.

I just don't see a problem with protecting the finer details of a great story and keeping them to yourself. I dunno. It's not like no one ever stole someone else's work. Ask Bill Gates.

What exactly would be the point of sharing your ideas anyways, if no one cares? It's essentially like the writer was saying "we don't give a crap about your ideas, but if you don't share them you're a loser". Contradiction or double standard, or maybe I missed the boat?

#12 primaveranz


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Posted 08 November 2011 - 10:14 PM

Excellent post Armanus.

"If we only use 1/3 of our brain, what's the other 1/3 for?"

#13 sfdex


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Posted 13 December 2011 - 03:56 PM

Ooh! I want to steal the idea "re-hack!"

Just kidding.

This is an interesting post. Over the years, I've had a couple scripts optioned by production companies. (Since I was paid for the option rights to the scripts, I suppose that does make me a "professional" writer.) Once I had a script fleshed out, I had no qualms whatsoever about talking about the story, because once the script was done and registered (even a very rough, first draft), nobody would think about "borrowing" the idea, because it would be all too easy to trace it back to its origin.

Nascent ideas, on the other hand, may be a bit more dangerous to share. One of the scripts I had optioned was a story of a con-man putting together a team to pull off his latest scam. Not a particularly original idea, but the nature of the scam, the nature of the main character, the setting of the story, all of those elements did make the script an original one. (The production company still has an option on the script, so I can't really talk about it much more than in these general terms. I'm doubtful it will ever get produced, though.) If I had shared the ideas about the main character (whose characteristics drive the story), and someone had borrowed those ideas (even innocently just being influenced by the ideas), it could have made my script seem less original, and therefore less appealing to the production company who paid me to hold on to the rights as they determined whether or not they could get production funding together for the movie. So, in that regard, as a "professional," I find it valuable not to discuss that sort of idea.

Just some musings. Thanks for this thread. It's some good, thought-provoking stuff! (And civil, which is another reason I love the Moviestorm forums!)

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#14 ALBION09


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Posted 05 January 2012 - 12:49 AM

Ideas inspire.It's the inspiration that's important.An idea has to grip you you personally.It has to light up some aspect of yourself that is yearning for expression.It doesn't matter what it is or how controversial it is.

After that it's about construction,plot,inventing characters.But at all times it's the central theme that is the driving force.Professionals necessarily have to pander to the box office,to the backers or the distributors,sometimes a subject/script may just not be ready to be made.
I respect professionals.They have at least learnt to deal with the complexity of delivering a completed film script that is workable.At the end of the day however,that script is just that.When completed it may bear no resemblance to the actual film on screen.It has,by that time passed through a manufacturing process of a highly organised industry,and the screenwriter is but one part.
As far as I am concerned there are Amateur film makers,but not professional film makers.There is a professional film making industry,but only amateurs can really make the films they want,without unfettered interference from anyone.

The likes of Movistorm are limited,however it all depends on how you use it.In the old days amateurs used to make films on super 8mm,and there were some truly superb films created with nothing more than a tape recorder and editor viewer and some film cement,plus the talent to borrow from the early cinema and the masters of montage.These films were some of the most emotional and evocative ever made.Of course a modern audience is totally unaware of them.Since the advent of fully synchronous sound it has been said that true cinema has lost it's way and has never really recovered.I agree with that.The days of truly great cinema have long since passed,but the Amateur can do what ever he wants,choose what ever style he feels fit for his purpose.The problems,at least in my view come when he or she tries to ape the professional.
Amateurs should go their own way.Form their own identity and pursue the ideals of free creative editing and the use of asynchronous sound.The professional cinema would dare not make such a film,and yet I doubt there is a film maker anywhere who has never been stunned when first seeing the famous (and silent) Odessa Steps sequence.
Moviestorm has given the opprtunity to rediscover the essentials of cinema.This for me is it's biggest asset,but ideas alone are not enough.These ideas must burn brightly for long enough to produce something worthwhile.But in my view having a full synchronous sound track and riding on the coat tails of the professional is not the way to go about it.

#15 urbanlamb


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Posted 06 January 2012 - 08:53 PM

this subject make me irritable because a couple of times i have been accused of 'stealing an idea' when well that was not the case I developed the idea all by myself without even seeing that person or knowing who they are etc. The funny thing about ideas is well that they are ideas and I dont know if anyone can claim ownership to any single idea because its quite likely that on this earth filled with human beings all who think that somewhere someone is going to have the same idea and the longer you exist and the longer the idea exists the more probable this will become.

I get very angry at people who make accusations based on "i thought of it first hence its mine" unless you get yourself some kind of bit of paper and go to the trouble of protecting your idea I am not gonna worry about it lol.

To my knowledge its actually impossible to protect ideas from theft because of their very nature. If it gets implemented then you can protect the tangible well "thing" but I have yet to figure out how someone can prove that what I come up with in my head all by myself is not mine. blink.gif

#16 Armanus


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Posted 06 January 2012 - 09:59 PM

Good point. But at the same time, I can't help but imagine what would have happened if M. Night Shayamalan posted on a forum somewhere "I have this great idea about a story. This kid sees dead people and this guy is counseling them. There's hints throughout the movie but we don't know until the end that the guy trying to help the kid is dead too."
Someone else may have ended up inspired by that and ran with it, and we wouldn't have "The Sixth Sense" which is pretty masterful in it's execution IMO. We might have had something better, we more likely would have had something worse, but if Shayamalan had decided to go ahead with his idea anyway, that ending would have been predictable instead of the unexpected shock that twist at the end created. Themes are universal, that is true, but when it comes to specific ideas, sometimes keeping secrets pays.

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