My least favorite type of writing has always been summarizing. Whether I was pitching a screenplay or a synopsis for a book, I got too concerned about what producers and publishers were looking for. I hated whatever I put on paper. It felt like I was cutting out the tastiest parts to make it palatable, misrepresenting the material by packaging it for mass appeal.
What’s missing from the time travel romantic comedy genre? A harsh dystopia. What if every manic pixie dream girl, was secretly a talent scout from the future? What if someone told you your magnum opus finds an audience long after you die? This story is a commentary on where I think the entertainment industry is headed.
Hand me the keys to the Delorean and I’ll show you an alternate timeline. Here’s some of the irresponsible things I’d do with a time machine.
My Time Travel Romantic Comedy Pitch
This isn’t a synopsis, it’s a loose pitch, a parade of plot points, a poll of possibilities. If you think it’s something worth developing, say so in the comments.
Logline: A publicist travels back in time to seduce an author whose fame was achieved after his death. Her firm specializes in corrupting these unsung geniuses with stardom, and reaping in the profits.
In the not too distant future: every film, TV show, and video game is based on an established work. New intellectual properties are considered risky investments. The corporations with the most time-honored masterpieces in their vaults own the entertainment industry.
Ashlynn is a scout for a publishing firm. Charged with copywriting classics before they enter into the public domain, she gets to these stories before their audience can. Violating restrictions on time travel, her firm has offices that stretch back to the dawn of the printing press.
Ashlynn specializes in finding authors who gained notoriety after their deaths. Traveling to when they were in their prime, she wins them over with sweet talk, and publishing contracts. For minuscule costs in the past, she reaps massive benefits for the future.
Ashlynn’s firm is responsible for an alternate reality where Edgar Allen Poe lives to become a bored true crime author, where H.P. Lovecraft struggles to step out of the shadow of his Cthulhu mythos, and fame gives Henry David Thoreau a new found affection for the big city.
Ashlynn pressures Herman Melville into writing a sequel to Moby Dick. It undermines the original’s message, turning the series into a precursor for Jaws.
As a scout, Ashlynn does her best to avoid the firm’s temporal agents, dark figures who travel back in time to enforce the firm’s agenda. They make sure their golden geese keep laying eggs. Whenever an author has a flight of fancy, these shadow figures clip their wings. Sabotaging lives, the agents put these writers back in front of the blank page. The firm regards their authors, who would never have achieved acclaim without them, as their prose spewing property.
Ashlynn watches the agents detain Emily Dickinson, when she tries to burn her journals. She sees them catch Franz Kafka trying to do the same. When he writes about their “Kafkaesque” time bending schemes, she’s surprised to find they publish it as it is.
Ashlynn thwarts Sylvia Plath’s suicide attempt. The agents throw her client into a padded cell, where the price of daylight is a page of poetry.
What happens when you mix The Dark Knight with Breaking Bad?
My Superhero Pitch
This is a treatment for the type of superhero movie I’d like to see; one that challenges our romantic notions of the stoic vigilante. This isn’t the summary of an idea. It’s the primordial ooze from which an idea could crawl forth from. This is a work in progress. If you think it has legs, please tell me in the comments.
William has an unhealthy obsession with Batman. Modeling his haircut after the actor Christian Bale, he quotes the character in casual conversation. He lives a solitary life in an mansion on the outskirts of town, where he prominently displays a life sized statue of his idol.
“A ghastly effigy,” so says his grandmother.
His life mirrors Bruce Wayne’s beat for beat. Like Wayne, William is the heir to a family fortune. His city is stricken with crime and corruption, a reality made all the more apparent by the fact that his parents were gunned down in front of him. Identifying with the Dark Knight, William becomes a body builder, a martial artist, and an aspiring vigilante.
The difference between William and the Caped Crusader, is that he lives in a world that doesn’t bend to suit a hero’s journey, a world indifferent to his drive for redemption, one with complex problems that don’t have simple solutions.
While Alfred advised Bruce to pose as a billionaire playboy, William’s grandmother urged him to go to nursing school. Now he works the night shift, with the good natured Dawn. The pair see their share of carnage. A rash of muggings have given them a lot to do. They treat stabbings and bullet wounds, but more often than not traumatic head injuries.
William spots a pattern, one the police refuse to acknowledge: a gang is out there handing out brass knuckle beat downs. They occur so frequently, that the cops only take statements when there’s a fatality.
Dawn admire’s William’s ability to counsel grieving families. Aside from his grandmother, she’s the only person he lets into his proverbial bat cave. She’s intrigued by his mysterious nature, until she catches him stealing tranquilizers. Fearing the pressure has gotten to him, she has no idea that he’s lining his utility belt. Continue reading My Superhero Pitch→