After SOUNDS WE HAVE NO LETTERS FOR so many things have been happening. Along with interviewing and networking around town to try to get a foothold into the Television Industry as a writer I've been working on some very interesting projects with some great people. From a high school love/death story to a project that is very Harold and Maude'ish, it has been non-stop. All the while I'm writing my new pilot about my own faults in life-- it's a comedy.
People often ask me where I get my ideas and the projects I mentioned above are a good example of 'I have no idea where I get my ideas. I'm into stories about relationships where the characters question themselves in the face of a decision having to do with another person. Some people call them romantic comedies, but I like to term them as relationship/reflection stories. The genre for me doesn't matter too much.
I read an interesting article the other day where the author said there are four types of television stories. Helping (doctors, lawyers), Coping (what about me?), Chasing (we must apprehend ____), and the fourth is a mix of those. I never heard anyone talk about stories in this way before and was instantly drawn to this analysis.
My stories and the stories I am drawn to are more in the Coping area. I think most half-hour TV sitcoms are about coping with the everyday minutia of life. Since I know what I like, I am drawn to projects that have that. Whether I am the writer, director, or producer on that project it almost doesn't matter. I want to EXECUTE that IDEA to it's final form.
This process is something people don't really care for outside of writers. We brainstorm, create treatments, write character histories, outline till we hate ourselves, complete draft after draft, and then if we are lucky it goes to production. At that point, it gets put under the microscope of a producer, it gets a cast, pre-production, production, and then it gets to post production. It gets cut multiple times and finally you get to screen it for people. That initial idea has been put through the wringer and is now a living breathing thing for the world to see. It's no longer an idea, but a visual product.
So when someone throws an idea at me, I feel like they think they are doing me a great favor. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the thought, but I don't think that person understands that a good draft of that idea -- fleshed out with full characters, conflict, and a clear world is -- is about a hundred hours away for a start. That's what you are doing when you tell your writer friend your idea. You're saying drop everything and spend the next twelve weeks on this. Usually that person wants credit too. I mean it is their idea.
If you were a plumber would you listen to a non-plumber about ideas how to fix the backed up pipes in an apartment building? I hope not because people need to use the bathroom asap and don't need tips off your Google search. Working Writers/Filmmakers are those professional plumbers of story and character. We write and film scenes so hopefully in the end you aren't thinking about acts, story arcs, and how this one section didn't really work. You're enjoying the story as a whole.
I believe that is the job of every writer/filmmaker -- to execute a premise. Yeah we come up with premises/ideas, but everyone has ideas. Ideas are seeds you sow that you hope bear fruit knowing full well that most will not. So where do I get my ideas for my projects? You guessed it. People at Starbucks.