Sunday, November 29, 2015

From the archives – where movies come from

Every now and then, those big Hollywood producers dry out their writers and run out of ideas. You know when this is happening because it will seem like all the movies coming out are remakes of previous movies that weren’t that great to begin with. When this happens, as it so often does, these producers decide to get inventive and put a call out for story ideas to the general public.  The call is not advertised in a big blown up way (like their movie premiers) but instead is done subtly to ensure authenticity of the idea they are trying to procure. The logic being you will get better ideas if people don’t know who they are pitching their idea to. Some people support this strategy because they think it gives the little guy a chance at the big times (who are these people?!) In the industry they refer to this strategy as “raping the sludge off the toxic waste dump called society”.  Regardless of your feelings on the approach for new movie ideas, here is how they do it. 

The Hollywood producers usually place these calls in the classified sections of popular writing magazines (e.g., Writer’s Digest, The Paris Review, American Drunkard). The calls are written for the obtuse and hidden somewhere between the advertisements for writer’s retreats in Costa Rica and the get rich quick schemes advertisements. The calls are usually worded like “get paid for your story ideas!” – send us your ideas and we will pay up to $10,000! Basically these ads are the types of ads everyone tells you not to answer and may help explain why there still seems to be a slew of lacklustre movies getting pumped out by the Hollywood machine. 

How this relates to me and my life? Well one day, like one of my Andrea version 1.0 days, I was flipping through my latest issue of my American Drunkard magazine and I came across one of these calls for ideas. Likely due to a mix of unexpressed creativity and drunkenness, I decided to respond to the ad. I called the number they provided and talked to a representative who told me they were looking for a sister bonding type movie, an idea that breaks the traditional sister movie motif of weddings, babies and finding husbands.
Seemed doable. Still drunk, I called my sister, who lived somewhere in the world at least 4 time zones away from me, to run my idea by her. 

The conversation went something like this: 

A: Ok, before you speak, just listen. So there are two sisters, one who is a dictator of a kingdom and is losing power over her people (apparently she is kind of controlling or whatever) and the other sister who ends up saving her by stopping the uprising of the people. 

Sister: Dude, it’s 4 in the morning here…what are the sister’s names?

A: Elsa and Anna. Elsa is the dictator and Anna saves her!

S: How does Anna save Elsa exactly?

A: Well that’s complicated. See Anna is in exile so she needs to get back to the kingdom, make some friends along the way and then lead an army and save Elsa.

S: Are there any guys in this story?

A: Not really but we could throw some in for Elsa and Anna to have sex with.

S: Ok, so this story is kind of like the Cuban revolution but makes way less sense?

A: Yes! Instead of Fidel and Che we have Elsa and Anna!

S: Great. So why are you telling me this story at 4 in the morning?

A: I’m pitching the idea and I need some backstory for the sisters. 

S: Alright. Answer me this, where do Elsa and Anna come from, what makes them who they are, and why is Anna in exile?

A: Oh that’s easy. You see, Anna spent the formative years of her life much like the good dictator Elsa. Growing up in Winnipeg with summers in the Hamptons, life truly was idyllic. Then they moved to Hamilton. The move to Hamilton impacted both sisters tremendously as life then cascaded into a haze of steel town pollution, skeezed out fashion victims, and of course humanoids of limited mental capacity (that may be a universal statement spreading much further than Hamilton, like to Scarborough).

The large difference in the outcome of the glorious Elsa and troublesome Anna was in 2003 when Elsa moved to a small country in the Caribbean and became their dictator. And Anna decided to take up with a gang of strung out speed freak strippers. Despite this divergence in paths, Anna finished medical school the following year with excellent marks (after all she is related to Elsa) and with numerous pornographic films under her belt (see ).

After Anna’s medical school graduation she decided to travel the world by motorcycle and things got exceedingly worse. Stints in a Thai prison for drug trafficking and prostitution, a torrid affair with a married political leader (BTW not the one Elsa slept with), and an incident with elephant semen and offshore engineers which is best untold. 

After all of this traveling around, Anna missed her sister and decided to surprise visit her by crashing the 2006 world trade summit Elsa was hosting on her island kingdom. At first, the summit went alright. Anna was helpful in aiding Elsa in making some strategic connections with some key Asian business leaders and then refreshments were served. 

Anna and Elsa had a reputation for enjoying their tasty beverages, which is just another way of saying when Anna and Elsa drank together trouble inevitably followed. From Anna spontaneous vomiting Texas Tang Doritos onto anyone within a 5 foot radius of her, to drinking so much absinthe she passes out on a dance floor only to wake up and try to start a fight with everyone she sees, including her unsuspecting sister tucked snugly in her hotel room bed (wait actually that last part was Elsa, and the first too).

Regardless of Elsa’s previous indiscretions, which are many, one thing was constant among all of them, the presence of Anna. The point is, at this business summit craziness will ensue, that Elsa will have no one to blame for except her misguided although loving sister Anna. Hence why Anna is exiled.

S: Right…is there anything you want to talk about?

A: No! I'm pitching a story, I just want to know what you think.

S: (laughs) simmer down drunkard. Ok, so what specifically does Anna do at this summit to get exiled?

A: Several of the business leaders end up in jail and need to be bailed out for indecent exposure and/or security men penis groping (see these are patented Anna activities that she blames on others). Anna also starts a fire in the palace kitchen when she tries to make grilled cheese sandwiches. And sure it was only a small and manageable fire it still caused quite a nuisance that a small fire extinguisher needed to be used in order to put it out. Anna will also continuously bum smokes off others (she never buys her own!) and she will constantly demand drinks from other summit attendees, who will easily be able to tell her they bought her a drink already because Anna will show up to the summit already drunk and drugged out. Oh! And Anna will encourage overdrinking in other guests because she will insist on singing that annoying LMFAO shots song at the top of her lungs throughout the whole summit.

S: Sounds like you really thought this through. 

My sister was impressed and told me to pitch the idea, so I did. Looking back on this moment, I’m pretty sure my sister just gave me that encouragement so I would hang up the phone and let her go back to sleep. 

Needless to say, the Hollywood producer did not purchase my idea because they were looking for something a little more family friendly. So Elsa and Anna never did make it to the big screen, at least not in the way I had drunkenly envisioned them.

Another movie with Elsa and Anna characters...very popular I hear.

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