I was sitting in my daughter’s violin class this morning when I noticed the teacher’s sockless ankle in her Converse sneaker. She’s not young and there were some varicose veins. This was real life, but for some reason I thought, I have never seen a shot like that in a film. It wasn’t the most pleasant image, but it wasn’t as gross as it sounds. My point is that you could probably follow those varicose veins up to a very interesting story.
Some people, particularly in Hollywood, like to say that there are no new stories, but that we tell the old stories over and over again. Now, of course, Hollywood does tell the same stories over and over again. It’s part of their business plan, part of their DNA, but that doesn’t mean that that’s all there is. If you think about it, there’s a million stories all around us that Hollywood wouldn’t touch, but that, if told in an interesting way, would certainly hold up to the latest bland rom-com.
Let’s take an easy example: Considering how many of Hollywood’s biggest stars are now over 50 years old, how many films are there about 50 year olds? There are plenty of films with 50 year olds in them, but that’s not what I’m talking about. How many films are there that deal with problems and issues that 50 year old men and women have to deal with, like stale marriages or divorce or the fact that your health starts falling apart. I’m sure the list is longer, but I’m not 50, so I’d have to do some research. Who would want to watch one of these films? If it were interesting, I would.
Before I start sounding like someone with a geriatric fetish, there are a million areas that are just out of bounds: and what’s funny is that they are kept out of bounds by the same people who say that there are no new ideas.
I wrote a script that takes place in an office. It always gets compared to OFFICE SPACE or THE OFFICE. Were there really on two office stories that needed to be told? It makes you think how groundbreaking OFFICE SPACE was. I can imagine that Mike Judge had to convince a bunch of skeptical executives that people might actually be interested in what happens in an office – because it have never been done before.
It’s easy to shake the plot line of any film until you’ve got it down to its basic premise, and then declare that it’s just like some other movie. OFFICE SPACE is about a guy trying to rip off his company. You see? Just like a ton of other movies.
Except it’s not.