Like millions of other Americans out there, I have what my peers consider a few great movie ideas based on some recognizable cartoon characters. It’s a live action big budget concept with tons of special effects and an extremely clever twist. I can’t write the thing myself, but I can participate in its development. What course of action do you recommend? Is there a pool of capable screenwriters waiting for people with ideas to draw from? What can I do to sell my concept and have others develop the story?

–Paul Threatt

We don’t usually publish last names, but “Paul Threatt” seems so cosmically calculated for success, who could resist? If I were you, here’s what I would do.

  1. Even though you’re not a writer, do the very best job you can writing down the ideas, just in prose form. Register these treatments with the Writer’s Guild. (Refer back to one of the upteen columns I’ve written about that.) Keep in mind that this is really very little protection, since you don’t own any of the copyrighted characters your idea is based upon. But this whole venture is a crazy longshot, so even a fraction of a percentage of prudence is worth something.
  2. Move to Los Angeles.
  3. Get a job working for one of the following places: a big agency, a major studio, a powerful management firm, or a successful filmmaker (producer, screenwriter or director). This isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. Start in the mailroom, or as an intern. Learn everything you can. Figure out who the best writers are.
  4. Work very hard, so that you’re promoted a few rungs up from the bottom. This may involve switching companies several times.
  5. At this moment, and not before, present the very best of your ideas to your boss, or another powerful person you’ve befriended along the way. Convince them that this is the movie that will make their careers. Then seek out the filmmaker who could get it made, and the studio that controls the rights.

If everything works perfectly, you could have a movie in production in less than five years. Which is a very long time, granted, but par for the course in movieland.

This whole scenario may sound far-fetched, but it’s essentially what’s been happening for decades. Pretty much everyone who comes to Hollywood has one or two great ideas that they’re convinced should be made. And fortunately, remarkably, they’re right. Good luck.