Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ghostkeeper 2011

"The difference between life and the movies is that a script 
has to make sense and life doesn't...."
                                                                          - unknown

Since last Wednesday I have produced 52 pages of screenplay, at this rate I should have a rough working draft by early next week, meaning I won't write on the week-end. After all, the week-end is made for rest - right?

Or is it an excuse not to write?

I'm going to let you in on the plot for the new screenplay, which I had called a sequel  but after speaking to some industry friends, I changed it to a "remake" as that's the hot word these days in Hollywood. 

And the philosophy behind that is this: A sequel is a whole new movie while a remake is the old movie done over. What that offers is security to the financing and distribution people considering that there exists an audience who has already seen it.

Kind of like making a movie from a book; you're guaranteed that some people will want to see it. The odds are slightly better than a sequel which usually is never as good as the original. See what I mean? There are people who dwell on this for 10 hours a day, going over research files and reviews of old movies and trying to find a movie that they can remake.

Like a new Superman movie. Just what we needed.

Does all this sound silly? Yes, but this whole business is silly. I'm writing a story that actors will pretend to be the characters in that story and an audience is going to watch it because they want to see what happens. I once told someone that my job as a writer is to give people happy endings because life rarely has them.

But that's in my cynical moments, or maybe after a few drinks.

So let's get back to the original Ghostkeeper. It tells the story of 3 young people who take their ski-doos into the great Canadian Rockies in wintertime. They find an old hotel after one of the party breaks her ski-doo and they're stranded. The find the hotel is heated and soon meet a spooky old lady who runs the joint even though nobody's checked in for 5 years.

Just when things seem okay, stuff happens, one of them gets drowned and killed and the other two face either the old lady and her monster son or the freezing cold outside. By the way, the Ghostkeeper term comes from a Native Indian legend in Canada that deals with a monstrous creature called Windigo, who eats human flesh.

Just for your info, there actually is a psychological term called "Windigo psychosis" in which someone goes a little mad and starts doing nasty things.

So that's Ghostkeeper 1980. Now I had to find an idea for number 2, uh, I mean "the remake."

When I came up with the sequel idea I wasn't really sure what the idea should be and it rolled around my head for a week or two until some friends connected some of the dots. I think I mentioned that the real hotel, the Deer Lodge in Lake Louise, Alberta, was having a reunion this summer and I suggested we have a cast reunion.

That suddenly became an interesting idea; what if the real cast comes to the hotel for a reunion only to become victims for a real Windigo. I would get the real cast, now in their 50's and 60's to appear playing themselves. Essentially a movie within a movie.

And then I'd introduce two newcomers, in their mid-20's, to basically carry the movie. This is a necessity if I want distribution, you gotta have some kids in it. But I knew I could make it work and I knew exactly who they would be.

I also took all the Ghostkeeper reviews from, the good and the bad (49.8 good and 50.2 bad) and read them again, finding out what they liked and what they didn't like.  After all, this movie is for them.

I knew this; the original script wasn't that good and the acting was okay, but could do better. All the reviews said that Georgie, the old woman, was terrific. What also did work was the atmosphere of the film, dark, cold and spooky as hell, that was part me and John the DP and Stan the editor, the other part was the hotel itself. We managed to capture the darkness of the place against the - 35F landscape outside.

So far I've contacted John the DP, Doug who was PM, Murray the actor and yesterday Riva, the lead. All are excited and ready to go. All I need is a screenplay. 

And the money, a sum still not discussed, but around $1 million or so since the original was made for $650,000 in 1980 money,  $1 million isn't asking too much?  And the two young leads but since the movie won't shoot till November, I have lots of time.

(Mon: More writing)