I've never written a screenplay. I've only read one screenplay. But I know from watching TV and movies that pitches for screenplays often take the form of X meets Y. And I can do that much.
The Da Vinci Code meets Contact.
There... million dollar screenplay contract, please. Major movie studios can reach me at the email address in the right sidebar.
But actually I'm fine with someone stealing my idea, which is a mixture of spiritual (a la The Da Vinci Code) and far-out scientific (a la Contact), since I'd love to see the movie that I'm unable to write a screenplay for.
Not only because I don't know how to write a screenplay. Also because in my current irreligious state of mind I have no idea how the plot would come to a satisfying conclusion.
Here's the notion that came to mind quite a few years ago.
My mental movie starts with a view from afar of a fancy corporate jet making its way to somewhere or other. Zooming in, going right through the glass of a window on the plane, we see the interior.
Lavish, but not Trumpian ostentatious. Beautiful flight attendants are serving food and drink to a few well-dressed passengers. One passenger, though, a gray-haired older man, is too absorbed in his reading material to partake. The camera pans around to the cover of his book.
It is Marcus Aurelius' Meditations.
We soon learn that the man, let's call him Victor, is a multi-billionaire, one of the richest people in the world. He founded some sort of high-tech company that now rules a lucrative product sector. Victor is viewed as an eccentric genius in the mold of Steve Jobs.
He has numerous passions, of which making shit-loads of money is one. But that isn't his #1 passion, which is known only by close friends:
Understanding the nature of ultimate reality.
Now, Victor isn't sure what "ultimate" means. He's exceedingly well-versed in modern science. This isn't what he is thinking of, though. Victor also knows more about the world's major religions than most believers in them do, thanks to his genius IQ and voracious drive To Know.
This eccentric billionaire also has delved into lots of spiritual, mystical, and New Age paths. Here his drive To Know often came head-to-head with his notorious (to employees of his enterprises) Refusal to Put Up With Bullshit.
Yet even after all of his discarding and debunking of false prophets, Victor is left with a lingering question: could there be more to reality than what science and everyday experience reveals?
He's had his share of psychedelic experiences. He's proficient in several meditation practices. He's had glimpses of something beyond, something ineffable, something mysterious. But whether this something is anything really real, that remains unknown. And he'd like to know before he dies.
So Victor decides to offer a prize. Which gets me to the title of my imagined movie, "The Prize." We're talking serious prize here. A billion dollars. And the winner would be...
Whoever is able to provide Victor with proof of a substantial reality that lies beyond the physical. Meaning, supernatural, divine, other-worldly, godly -- the words don't matter; the reality does.
Victor didn't make his billions by trusting people who are untrustworthy. His reputation for sniffing out charlatans, whether of the financial or spiritual variety, is well-founded. Yet Victor also is a creative, open-minded guy who is ready to push the envelope, think outside the box, go where few have dared to venture.
So he sets up the machinery for publicizing what soon comes to be known the world over as simply The Prize. Victor realizes that someone who knows the seemingly unknowable may not be motivated by money. He makes clear that the billion dollar prize doesn't have to be accepted; it can be gifted. Or, even refused.
Victor simply wants To Know. Naturally he isn't sure if there is anything to be known beyond the bounds of science, reason, and everyday experience. It is worth a billion dollars to him to throw out this question to the world and see what results.
Not surprisingly, fakes abound. Victor has various levels of personnel assigned to ferret out the most obvious bullshitters. He reserves the right to personally review the evidence submitted by people with the most believable claims to knowing ultimate reality.
Now I have more scene ideas of my never-to-be-written screenplay, but there's no reason to share them. My main reason for sharing this idea of The Prize is to point out how difficult the finale of the movie is to figure out. I never was able to come close to a satisfying "third act."
After all, in thousands of years of recorded human history, nobody has presented convincing demonstrable evidence that reality extends beyond the physical. Thus it takes more creativity than I can muster to imagine what sort of evidence could convince Victor that someone deserves to win The Prize.
And I don't want to settle for a warm and fuzzy ending such as "love is ultimate reality." Remember, this movie is a mixture of the spiritual and the scientific. I'm fine with a bit of ambiguity, just not a lot of it.
I'm highly skeptical that if some actual billionaire were to offer a big-money prize for evidence of a supernatural reality, than anyone would win it. Religions and other spiritual paths already compete for the minds of believers. One would think that they currently are putting forth their most credible claims to knowledge of ultimate reality.
And all fall short.
I readily admit that my imagined screenplay has a large blank spot when it comes to the ending. I content myself with visualizing movie audiences leaving theaters saying, "Wow, that ending blew my mind."
I just wish I knew what it was.