What if your idea is already a movie?

Had the typical writer’s nightmare 2 days back. The idea I have been outlining for more than a month is similar to the one-line of a film which is already out there. I came up on this while browsing through IMDB. Now comes the important question- what to do? Continue outlining it or abandon it? Or watch the movie and decide how much execution is similar to what I have in mind? But I got an interesting advice from a writer-friend- don’t watch it. If you watch it, some elements are going to subconsciously spill over. Continue developing it and if you want, see it later. I feel that it makes most sense. So I have decided not to shelve one month of work but to boldly go forward. The decision is risky. Most usually a writer is judged by hearing some of his outlines and not by reading all his scripts. A very innovative execution of a commonplace idea is more likely to go waste than average execution of a high concept idea.

What I have learnt from this experience is that writers need to be constant touch with all the projects developing in parallel out there. We can’t watch every movie. But at least one can go through one-lines of movies without spending too much time. This has to be part of our routine.

Photo by  les5siamoises


Adventures of Tintin: why Spielberg didn’t have a midlife crisis?

I  desperately want to get into the head of Spielberg. What does this man want with his life now? As a filmmaker, he has achieved more than what most of us can even imagine in our dreams. So how does he keep his spirit intact? After Jurassic park, Schindler’s list and A.I., what next?The world is closely watching  his next move.

…And then he decides to make a movie on Tintin with motion capture technology. Fine, if this is what he wants to do at this point of his career, there must be a reason. He would be seeing something in Tintin like what Aaron Sorkin saw in Mark Zuckerberg or what Nolan saw in Batman or what Anthony Minghella saw in English Patient or what Kubrick saw in Clockwork Orange or what David Fincher saw in Fight Club….

But if it was there, I didn’t find it.

The typical Spielbergian spectacular set pieces, intrigue, mystery, dry humour running through the action sequences- everything is in there. I don’t have a complaint that Spielberg didn’t uphold the spirit of original Tintin comics. You get in the movie what you get in the comics. The sheer boyish sense of adventure, the mystery of clues coming together, the quirky supporting characters, wild chases, Snowy-all of it is there except the fact that ‘action in every 5 minutes or less’ appears a little engineered and tiresome in the movie. In my opinion, he upheld the spirit of Tintin with a little too much faith. May be he tried to realise the potential of Tintin series. But did Spielberg try to fully utilise his own potential?

Our Game

Tim Cranmer is a self retired British civil servant (and a covert intelligence operative) living in the country with his young mistress Emma, tending to his vine orchard, trying hard to believe that world will allow him to have the middle class existence that he desperately want to sink to. But the nemesis for his escapist life comes in the form of Larry, his idealistic protégé who refuses to share his cynicism about the world. Larry sets into motion a chain of events which consumes Tim and his girl friend and  propels him from the sterile suburbs of England to the conflict torn regions of Russia.

I like the world of espionage that appears in the novels of John Le Carre. You get whif fof a brutual ground reality in there. There are no heroes here. It is all about cynicism or greed or hot headed idealism. Spying is not about beautiful beaches, sexy girls,   preposterous gadgets or one to one physical engagement with adversaries. But it is something that happens during the meaningful pauses of diplomatic conversations or empty chitchats in the corridors of beaurocracy. After John Le Carre, it is very difficult to ignore the juvenile nature of the world of James Bond.

Strategies for 2011: 4th update

After 1st update on my strategies for 2011, 2nd, 3rd and now 4th updates comes at bigger intervals because whenever there is a crunch in writing time, frequent blogging is the first one to go under the axe. But this public display of both targets and my performance in terms of achieving them has been one of the biggest brain waves I had in 2011. Now there is an extra effort to at least have some modestly defend-able outcomes. So it appears that net can be put to good use, to increase your productivity.

Total number of days: 61

Total number of days where I finished 2.5 hours of writing: 33

Total number of days where I have not done any writing at all: 16

Total number of days where I have exceeded my 2.5 hour target: 3

Total number of days where I accessed net before completing my targets: 0

Even though the number of days where I hit the target time has increased slightly, there is something ominous in the above figures. The number of days where I have not done any writing at all has increased drastically. The key to productivity is writing something every day, however little it is. Also you lose the thread of whatever work you are doing, if you don’t go back to it consequently for a few days. So a ‘zero output’ day is more damaging than not achieving the 2.5 hour target.

Another issue has been the problem of finding time to sit in front of computer and actually type a treatment or screenplay from an outline. As I mentioned earlier, I am travelling a lot nowadays due to my posting and so most of my writing occurs during this time. Naturally outlining happens more often than writing full drafts in such a scenario. So in the last leg of the year, I am having at hand a number of rough outlines still requiring a lot of fleshing out. To rectify this problem, in the next two months, I will be trying a strategy of actually converting these ‘story spines’ to full treatments rather than searching for new ideas. Even though I was planning to develop some new strategies to network and actually set up some meetings at the end of this year, I am postponing it to next year as I would rather have some treatments at hand first.

Photo by Kassch3