This is the eighth year in a row I've run this series in April. Why a story idea each day for the month? Several reasons which I'll work my through during this series of posts. Here' s another one:
You can evolve into being a writer-producer.
Let's face it, you can only write so much. But sitting on your side of the table, all those story meetings you've had to endure, you've probably developed a pretty good sense of what it takes to be a producer at least on a creative level.
Why not don that hat, too?
A quick way to jump start you producing career: Come up with story ideas. Here's a great example: "Woogles", a pitch that sold a while back from writers Nick Antosca and Ned Vizzini. Who is producing the movie? Screenwriter Max Landis (Chronicle) who came up with the story idea for the project that sold.
That could be you.
Today's story idea: Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich.
Some of the wealthiest people in America — in Silicon Valley, New York, and beyond — are getting ready for the crackup of civilization.
Steve Huffman, the thirty-three-year-old co-founder and C.E.O. of Reddit, which is valued at six hundred million dollars, was nearsighted until November, 2015, when he arranged to have laser eye surgery. He underwent the procedure not for the sake of convenience or appearance but, rather, for a reason he doesn't usually talk much about: he hopes that it will improve his odds of surviving a disaster, whether natural or man-made. "If the world ends — and not even if the world ends, but if we have trouble — getting contacts or glasses is going to be a huge pain in the ass," he told me recently. "Without them, I'm fucked."
Huffman, who lives in San Francisco, has large blue eyes, thick, sandy hair, and an air of restless curiosity; at the University of Virginia, he was a competitive ballroom dancer, who hacked his roommate's Web site as a prank. He is less focussed on a specific threat — a quake on the San Andreas, a pandemic, a dirty bomb — than he is on the aftermath, "the temporary collapse of our government and structures," as he puts it. "I own a couple of motorcycles. I have a bunch of guns and ammo. Food. I figure that, with that, I can hole up in my house for some amount of time."
Survivalism, the practice of preparing for a crackup of civilization, tends to evoke a certain picture: the woodsman in the tinfoil hat, the hysteric with the hoard of beans, the religious doomsayer. But in recent years survivalism has expanded to more affluent quarters, taking root in Silicon Valley and New York City, among technology executives, hedge-fund managers, and others in their economic cohort.
Hi-tech billionaires freaked out about the possibility of the collapse of civilization. What to do?
I was greeted by Larry Hall, the C.E.O. of the Survival Condo Project, a fifteen-story luxury apartment complex built in an underground Atlas missile silo. The facility housed a nuclear warhead from 1961 to 1965, when it was decommissioned. At a site conceived for the Soviet nuclear threat, Hall has erected a defense against the fears of a new era.
In 2008, he paid three hundred thousand dollars for the silo and finished construction in December, 2012, at a cost of nearly twenty million dollars. He created twelve private apartments: full-floor units were advertised at three million dollars; a half-floor was half the price. He has sold every unit, except one for himself, he said.
The original silo of Hall's complex was built by the Army Corps of Engineers to withstand a nuclear strike. The interior can support a total of seventy-five people. It has enough food and fuel for five years off the grid; by raising tilapia in fish tanks, and hydroponic vegetables under grow lamps, with renewable power, it could function indefinitely, Hall said.
Here's my movie idea: Three Silicon Valley billionaires commission the building of something akin to Survival Condo Project. They hire skilled craftsmen and local workers to build the compound. I envision a prologue in which there is a celebration: Construction is finalized. The rich families come for a visit ushered through the complex by the project foreman and a few of his associates. A champagne toast. The workers prefer beer. Success!
Cut to a few years later and after a taste of the billionaire families' normal life… BOOM! The Shit Officially Hits The Fan! The families gather per a well-orchestrated and rehearsed escape plan leading to a private jet which whisks them to their survival condo.
There they are, all the creature comforts of home, set for 10 years, even a plan for teaching, cultural events, medical care. They can track what the hell is going on up top with civilization dissolving into chaos via short wave radio and some sort of hi-tech communications the group has created on the sly. It's crazy, but at least they are safe.
Or are they?
The one flaw in their plan: The people who BUILT the compound — the foreman, his crew, and the local workers — they know the ins and outs of the facility. Indeed they built in a few breach points where they could enter it. Seems while the billionaires have been planning for the worst, the locals have been busy prepping as well. And their goal is to take over the survival compound for THEIR families.
Pretty smart, huh? Get the billionaires to fund the project. Pay them salaries for the two years it took to construct the facility. And now have the wherewithal, including knowledge of secret entrances, tunnels, and rooms to take over the compound for their OWN security.
Of course, they'll have to eradicate the billionaires and their families. But it seems the locals are downright fanatical in their commitment to survival. This isn't just some sort of intellectual game the billionaires play over drinks at the club or annual treks to Burning Man. No, the locals are fueled by daily ultra right-wing radio and internet shows, and they not only see this as survival of the fittest, they are morally in the clear because of the whole 1% vs. 99% phenomenon.
Oh, there's this. While the billionaires may have stockpiled weapons and practiced weapons training — more or less — the locals have grown up with guns, learned to shoot as hunters. So they know how to kill.
Bottom line, we are looking at an action-thriller bloodbath.
It's Straw Dogs meets Panic Room.
What would YOU do with this story setup? Clicks RESPONSES and share your thoughts.
There you go: My fourth story idea for the month. And it's yours. Free!
Each day this month, I invite you to click on RESPONSES and join me to do some further brainstorming. Take each day's story idea and see what it can become when you play around with it. These are all valuable skills for a writer to develop.
See you in comments. And come back tomorrow for another Story Idea Each Day For A Month.
For other posts in my A Story Idea Each Day for a Month (2017) series, go here.