Create a Movie or TV Show

by Mr. Cheap

Mystery Science Theater 3000 was a pretty funny show on a while back that consisted of bad b-movies (science -fiction and horror for the most part) and three characters mocking the movie while it played. The original creators worked on the show after hours at the cable studio they worked at (as that was the only way they could have access to the expensive equipment used to create it). They didn’t have a large audience, but the people who liked it were fanatical fans (a cult hit if you will, or exploiting the long tail).

With constantly dropping prices for video equipment (like all technology), it’s become possible for amateurs to make professional quality video content. In 1994 Kevin Smith made “Clerks” using cash advances from a bunch of credit cards, and things have gotten even cheaper since then. I used to pitch ideas to a friend who worked in the film/TV industry and he eventually asked me why I didn’t just make them myself (and assured me it wasn’t too involved to learn how to operate a camera and edit footage).

Horror movies, in particular, have a rabid fan base that will see every zombie movie (for example), even if it’s acknowledged to be awful. My friend claims its almost impossible to lose money making a horror movie. One idea I’ve had is about a guy who starts dating this woman. She goes along with things, but is completely detached about the relationship. Eventually they move in together (she likes him well enough, but remains ambivalent about the whole thing), and one night he catches her turning into a wolf. After confronting her the next morning, she’s nonchalant about the whole thing admitting “yeah, I turn into a wolf three nights a month on the full moon, what’s the big deal?”. The guy decides he loves her so much he’s going to make it work. At a later date he clues in that when his girlfriend is a wolf, she’s having an affair with the landlord’s German Sheppard, and what’s more, the guard dog realizes that the wolf he’s been having fun with 3 nights a month turns into a woman and is having an affair with the guy upstairs. For the rest of the movie, the dog and the guy try a variety of plots to kill each other (e.g. the guy tries to poison the dog, the dog gets off his leash but pretends to still be tied up and attacks him, etc). I’m not sure how to end it (maybe the woman dumps them both and leaves with a male werewolf).

I don’t know how you go about distribution and whatnot, but I’m sure that’s the sort of thing you could figure out buying someone in the biz lunch and picking their brain.

In terms of TV shows, two ideas I’ve had is to make a Canadian show focusing on a fly-in-fishcamp in Northern Ontario. Each week (episode) would have new American tourists showing up at the lodge, and the comedy would come from the interactions between the Canadians working at the lodge (a variety of fishing bums, university students, whatever), the native fishing guides and the Americans. My brother worked at a fly in fish camp and has a ton of amusing stories about his experiences, which is what led to this idea (and what I’d use to develop individual episodes). Corner Gas and Little Mosque on the Prairie are so bad, I can’t see how this WOULDN’T get on the air in Canada…

Another TV type idea would be a reality TV show built around programmers (think “The Apprentice” or “Hell’s Kitchen” with computer nerds). You’d get some tech celebrity (like Linus Torvalds or Steve Wozniak) to host it, and offer a team lead position at Google, computer systems, and a bunch of gadgets as the prizes, and distribute it on-line (maybe get corporate sponsorship to make money). Challenges would be group and individual and would be tech related (e.g. fix a broken server, code a Pac-Man clone, elicit requirements and develop a website for a client, etc). Geeks could watch it with their girlfriends (or boyfriend if you’re SquawkFox) and they can finally get some idea of what we do for living (in a highly dramatized version)

For this post, or any other of the wacky business ideas I post, obviously I’m releasing any ownership claims I may have over these ideas. If you like something I post and feel like you can make money from it, please feel free to do so! Let me know when you’re opening and we’ll do a post on it to give you some free advertising.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Quietrose

I like most of these ideas, especially the first one of the couple, where the girl turns into a wolf three times a month. It’s like exploring when Oz cheated on Willow turning “the change.” Nice! I’d watch that!

I think you should start working on some of these film and TV show ideas, Mr. Cheap. Grad school is all about the other fun side of learning!

2 Gates VP

OK Cheap;

I want to be the first to say that your movie idea is absolutely killer. I would watch that movie, I would buy that movie and sitting around with my friends drinking hard liquor laughing like we’re watching Army of Darkness.

Useful filler:
The girl must be hot (and has to wake up in the yard naked at some point).

The guy should probably be some form of canine-neutral turned canino-phobe. We don’t want him to be dumb, we just him to be dumb when it comes to dogs.

Don’t kill the dog, nobody likes that.

You are allowed to make some form of “once a month” joke, but only in anger or irony.

The shared space can have a pool (not uncommon in the US). This enables wet dog and gratuitous bikini scenes. Attempted murder by drowning or electrocution are also available.

Either way, if it’s any consolation, Corner Gas actually airs in the US. So it’s a phenomenon bigger than our poor tortured Canadian souls 🙂

3 guinness416

The fact that LMOTP is (utterly bizarrely) now syndicated in ten countries or something is proof that you don’t need to actually be funny to succeed with this one, just hit the zeitgeist in some way. Although I can’t think of a comparable show. Father Ted, maybe, but that was hilarious too.

I think your reality shows are better ideas than most of the garbage currently on, so I have to think you could be successful with them. There was once a nerdy show involving building robots and machines which did well. Although actually, I think the problem is that I (and you) don’t understand the slack-jawed idiocy of the general viewing public. I mean, have you ever seen Big Brother? Or late night dating/makeover shows? Who the hell watches that on a regular basis? But it’s successful all over the globe.

Your pal in Leslieville there is practically living next door to the studios, I’m sure 4P Productions could do well.

4 Anne

Hey, I’d love to help you get that movie idea on paper and shop it around! Let me know if you’re interested in collaboration!

5 Mr. Cheap

Microsoft is doing something along the lines of what I suggested for the programmers reality TV: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/bethenext.aspx

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