A comment I hear sometimes when I listen to producers is “Why aren’t there more fresh ideas in Hollywood?”
Let’s leave aside the fact that if you come up with anything too fresh it scares producers. I think the problem is that a lot of aspiring screenwriters don’t cast their nets wide enough when they look for sources of inspiration.
Why Aren’t There More Fresh Ideas In Hollywood
It’s very tempting to look to the current line-up of movies first, classic films second, and everything else a distant third. This problem is much more prevalent in the US, and especially in Los Angeles, than in the UK and Europe, but it’s everywhere.
I was reminded of this when reading a brief interview with the comics author and illustrator who goes by the name of Max. When asked where he finds inspirations for his stories and illustrations, he replied:
“My inspiration comes from a variety of sources: myths, fiction literature, philosophy, art… and then, of course, what I see around me in the world. And nature and dreams, too. My stories tend to be quite related to the subconscious side of humans.”
The truth is, I find it just as difficult as everybody else to make the time to read things that are not directly applicable to whatever I’m working on at the moment. However it’s worth setting aside at least a couple of hours a week to do so.
Expose Yourself To Other Works
One way to drum up fresh ideas is to expose yourself to other works. In my situation, I am working on a project geared towards teenagers and young adults. So I just finished reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane (the first thing I’ve read by Neil Gaiman) and it took me back to the days when, as a teenager, I first discovered the wonderful stories of Ray Bradbury.
Philip Pullman is next on my list. After that, I’ll make a long overdue return to Bulfinch’s Mythology (available free online at Project Gutenberg).
If you’re reluctant to read novels because you only have bits of time to invest. Then at least take time to rediscover the short stories of authors like Bradbury, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Flannery O’Connor, and of course those of the ultimate master, Chekhov.
Here are a few specific suggestions for short story collections:
The Illustrated Man (Ray Bradbury), Dubliners (James Joyce), Nine Stories (J. D. Salinger), I, Robot (Isaac Asimov), and The Things They Carried (Tim O’Brien).
It’s not a matter of looking for a fresh idea in Hollywood. If you’re a creator, make it a mission to fill your brain with a wide variety of material so that one day a fresh idea pops into your mind. This idea will be one formed and influenced by lots of diverse sources. The ingredients will have blended so well that you won’t even recognize them. And when you’re ready, you can be the one to share fresh ideas in Hollywood.