Once upon a time in the ancient year of 1994, there was a writer who had stalled out on his first attempt at a novel and on a crazy whim, invited a friend to co-write a romantic comedy screenplay inspired by the print personal ads they browsed during morning hot chocolate breaks at work. They joked around about playing matchmaker with a co-worker and setting him up on a series of blind dates via the personal ads. Instead of actually playing matchmaker, the aspiring writer thought that the concept would make a funny movie. Characters that get caught up in a crooked game of cupid and get set up on a hilarious blind dates before going on one that actually works. The working title was, “Personals.”
So, the writers commenced drafting the script in their spare time over the next five years, hanging out in coffee shops in the San Jose, California area. They knew nothing about screenwriting and screenplay format. So, they went to a couple of seminars, and the aspiring writer proceeded to buy or borrow from the library every book he could find on screenwriting.
TITLE: Five Years Later – 1999
The aspiring writer moved to Utah to get married and corresponded with his co-writer via email, tweaking the 7th or 8th draft of the script and circulating it to some contacts the co-writer had. They received enough encouraging feedback to finalize the script, register it with the Writer’s Guild of America West down in L.A. and started sending it to agents and managers in Hollywood in 2001.
The consensus feedback was that the writing was good, but the story lacked focus or wasn’t ready for the big time. The story concept of Personals ads and blind dates wasn’t working.
End of the First Act.
TITLE: Three Years Later – 2004
After moving to Charlottesville, Virginia and letting the screenplay gather dust in his mind, the writer’s wife and he began discussing the most glaring problem with the script, the main female lead. She was two-dimensional and looked to be written by two guys who didn’t have a clue about the inner motivations of adult females. Yes, this is an indictment of twentysomething men and the lack of insight many of them possess about the women in their lives. So, writer’s wife proceeded to help him develop a stronger character. In so doing, the story had to change.
They de-emphasized the personals ads (because after “You’ve Got Mail” and the explosion of the internet, print personal ads were almost obsolete) and created a new conflict where the coffee shop was struggling and about to be sold and the male lead tries to save it, but falls in love with the female lead representing the huge corporate chain trying to buy the coffee shop. So, similar in tone and style to You’ve Got Mail, but with a coffee shop instead of a bookstore. The title changed to “Coffee Shop Philosopher” and they proceeded to work on several new drafts to get the story right.
TITLE: Five Years Later – 2009
In the small mountain town of Flagstaff, Arizona, the writer finally finished the umpteenth draft of “Coffee Shop Philosopher” and registered this new version with the Writer’s Guild of America West, with his wife as co-writer. They entered a couple of contests and hoped for some small measure of success with the new story and strengthened characters, but it was not to be. They didn’t win, place, or even show, to use horse race parlance.
End of the 2nd Act.
TITLE: 18 months later – 2010
In the desert climate of the Phoenix Metro area, the 3rd Act begins. After spending the past year and half working on the beginning of an epic fantasy series, the itch began again to fix the Coffee Shop Philosopher script based on some new articles and books the writer read to really solidify the strongest, most interesting storyline and characters. A script that he could imagine actually being made with recognizable actors and that would be entertaining to watch.
So, he is going to spend some time on this script in addition to his fantasy novels. He intends to make it the best possible work and then attempt to win or place in a contest and/or sell it to Hollywood. After sixteen years of sporadic effort and new ideas, it’s time for this movie to end. And since most movie goers love happy endings, he’s shooting for that result.
TITLE: Intermission – audience participation requested.
So, now we come to the audience participation portion of the blog. We’ll break from third person point of view where I refer to myself in the past as written above, so I can ask for your input. Below is a quick poll where I seek your reaction to the movie title and logline (short description of the movie) below. If you wish to leave a comment to explain further that would be even better, but a poll response at the minimum would help me focus my rewrite to get a sense of what stories people like.
Call this market research and you are a direct participant in helping a movie get made in Hollywood.
Below is the working title and the brief story description. Please respond in the poll box below…
A man fights to save a struggling coffee shop from takeover by a global corporate chain, and unknowingly, the woman he loves.
Thank you in advance for your responses.
Hopefully, the unfinished story of this screenplay can end well as the writer proceeds through the Third Act and Finale of the story and the proper ending can be written.
TITLE: The End