Where do ideas come from?
Station to Station, my latest short film script, started out as an image. Late July, 2012, I found myself sitting at a quaint small plates joint across the street from a local movie theater with The Dark Knight Rises on the marquee. A midnight showing of Nolan’s final Bat-film mere hours away, and I found myself alone with only a pad and a pen. Well… and a beer or two.
A simple vision danced before my eyes as I took in the cocktail party static of conversation filling the room. I saw a man and a woman, close in age, sitting together at a white cloth restaurant, laughing, and enjoying a bottle of red wine.
No idea who these people were, I tried to hear what they were saying to each other. Were they lovers? Business partners? Old friends? New friends? A business person romancing a client? I couldn’t hear very well over the noise in our respective rooms. But I managed to catch something about a radio station for sale. So, of course, I jotted that down on my trusty pad. Then, the man said something about his father. Pity flashed across the woman’s face, giving her face a specific and familiar shade of sympathy. But what exactly did the man say?!
I asked him to repeat himself. He refused.
Next thing I knew the man was back at the woman’s apartment. He expected sex. She had none to offer. Instead of physical love, the beautiful young woman offered these words: “I’m in a position to give you this gift. Please accept it.”
And that was it. The line for The Dark Knight Rises had grown, exponentially, across the street. The clock on the wall read 10:45. Now or never, I had to join the line. I wrote down every detail I’d seen in my mind’s eye, every little thing that I could remember about the restaurant, the man, the woman, her apartment, and their conversation. With a mighty gulp, I polished off my second Lagunitas, tipped my server and skipped across the street.
For months the conversation between the enigmatic man and woman slept, dormant in my notebook. I’d almost completely forgotten about it until two days ago. Showering before work, these characters and their situation fought their way back into my mind. They called out to me, desperate to be heard. And, this time, they promised more details. I listened. And good thing, too.
Tonight, I finished the first draft of their story. It’s short - well, it’s absolutely as long as it needs to be; no more, no less. I know who these people are now. I know what they want. I know their hopes, fears, joys, defeats, dreams, their devastation and mistakes. I know their pasts and futures. And I’ve recorded it all.
At 25 pages, the script is heavy with themes familiar. At it’s core it’s a story about fathers. Hopefully, the script will be filmed one day. Maybe sooner than later. That would be nice. If not, it’s still a wonderful little story. I’m proud of it. Like a best case scenario, the script poured out of me without much interference. My role was that of a transponder. I just listened as others spoke. It was easy.
In the near future I’ll revise it, of course. Then I’ll spread it around for trusted friends to read. Like a good scientist, I’ll listen to the feedback and record the results. Someone will surely offer a better idea, and I’ll gladly steal it. Others will try to mess things up. With as much politeness as I can muster, I’ll thank those people, too. But I won’t take their ideas very far. I’ll pitch them in the ditch at the side of the road as quickly as possible. But right now? Right now I’ll treat myself to a bottle of wine, and celebrate the creative process. Here’s to our guardian angels, to the words that love us and give us all they’ve got. Cheers.
Anyway… There you have it. One man’s tale of inspiration, and one writer’s quest to understand where the hell it all comes from. Maybe Stephen King is right. Maybe there is a place - a Boo’ya Moon - where all the ideas wait for the right person to come along and pluck them from the muck. Why not? That theory makes as much sense as any other.