Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Just Add Money: Cancer Betting

As a writer, whenever I come across an interesting story or experience a unique incident, I find myself pondering how it could best be used in a movie or television show. While I don't plan to give away all my secrets, from time to time I'll give up an outline for free. If you have the money to make it, then you can go ahead and take it.

Take this story for example:

Title: Obviously you've got to have some sort of play on words with the whole idea of gambling. Something along the lines of "Betting the House" or "You Bet Your Life."

This screams "made for TV movie." I really don't see it any other way. Unfortunately, the majority of made for TV movies aren't any good. But if you follow my suggestions, I think you'll have a keeper.

Tone: There's the potential for this to be uber-cheesy, but that does appeal to a lot of the older TV audience out there. Personally I'd rather see it go the route of Wit and be incredibly depressing while also managing to illicit a few laughs.

Story: Introduce the main character. He's a loner and kind of a curmudgeon. Lives next to an orphanage or something similar and is mean to the kids. But we see him secretly do something endearing, so we like him. Then he gets the bad news about the cancer. People hear and try to comfort him, but he pushes them all away, except for one little boy who he makes a strong connection with. Somehow he hears about the possibility of making a bet. He does it because at first he wants the money for something selfish, but as he becomes better friends with the boy, he pledges to give it to the orphanage (or whatever it is).

Ending: While I hope the real life man keeps winning his bet for years to come, the guy in this story has to die. Off the top of my head, I picture one of two things:

1. Everything seems fine, and on the day that he can collect, the boy goes over to accompany him to the bank and finds him dead. It's very sad. But people hear the story and begin to donate money and the orphanage makes more than it would have from the bet and builds something named after the old guy.

2. The old guy gets sick close to the end of the bet. Hospitalized. Doing everything he can to hang on. Probably an estranged family member shows up and has a heartwarming moment. And all of the kids from the orphanage show up with the bet collector people on the day the bet ends, and he signs the stuff over. We never actually see him die, so it's a little less depressing. But schmaltzier.


Michael Escoto said...

I think you find any excuse to use the word "curmudgeon." And must you use an orphanage? I mean really? Couldn't it be something more interesting/practical/not so turn of the century. How about some free Lasik eye surgery for a blind kid. Audiences love the blind! Just my two cents (and an opportunity to promote my own right wing Neo-Con blog

Jonathan K said...

Escoto: If you've seen Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine, curmudgeon is the only word that comes to mind.

Lasik eye surgery for a school of blind children. I like it.