On Monday I brought the world the inimitable George Orenstein. Known to many as "America's Producer," Mr. Orenstein is one of the top executives at a major Hollywood production company. He also happens to be a distant relative, which is how I convinced him to review several more reader pitches. Without further ado, I present to you the pitch and the burning.

This summer, Ashlee Simpson may rule your heart...and Barter Town.The Pitch
Patrick A.'s "Apocalypse High"
Think…Mad Max meets any of the thousand of Romantic High School Comedies
"The story of the first high school to re-open in the radioactive aftermath of a nuclear war. This way we can have enough typical teen-angsty hilarity in it to appeal to the teen female audience, while having enough zombie attacks and inexplicable leather bikinis to get their boyfriends in the door. Throw in a little political intruige so that it might get added to some liberal arts college's classroom source list, and you've got yourself a hit. And while two different sets of trailers are obviously neccesary for this to work, if it's a hit, the TV series writes itself."


The Burning
"Post apocalypse actioners are stuck in the '80s like a Flock of Seagulls tourbus and you have a plot that amounts to a ribbon cutting ceremony. You could get some mileage out of post apocalypse versions of high school archetypes, but that post apocalypse math nerd is going to stop being funny about ten minutes into the movie. And a post apoc romcom? Is Harry going to meet frigging Sally in the Thunderdome? If one guy gets his head cut off by a car with knives on its hubcaps then no girl is going to be seen within a hundred miles of that theater."
A smart studio would…pass it to their low budget "indie" division and get write-off financing from German backers.

The Pitch
JA Patterson's "Black Mountain"
Think…Blair Witch Project meets The Fog
"A group of young outdoor enthusiasts travel to various hidden 'ghost towns' from the 19th century. Through research they find a particular location that has a dark past. A community built as a penal colony and place for undesirables in a remote location. Various things happen, with only one survivor."


The Burning
"Ugh. First off, Blair Witch Project had a sequel that sunk faster than an FBI informant in the East River. Second, they just remade the frigging Fog and it tanked worse than the Edmund Fitzgerald. Combine those two and you've got a bucket of crap that shoots piss at you if you get too close. I also love your pitch, you know, the part where you said 'various things happen.' Sure, let me just write the movie myself because I'm so enamored with your concept of combining two of the shittiest movies to see a projection room in the past decade. 'Various things happen.' One of those things will not be a producer asking you for a second meeting. "
A smart studio would…block your calls and have you escorted from the lot.

Is good, is like Danny DeVito meeting Chandelier from Friends.The Pitch
Farruh N.'s "Bullet 17"
Think…???
"A young Uzbeki man living in Boston begins having troubling dreams. Alex remembers discipline, violence, and snow. After a few hypnotherapy sessions, his psychiatrist realizes Alex might be a rogue sleeper agent with no real idea of his training and deadly ability. To test his suspicions, the doctor uses Alex to take revenge on his cheating wife and her crime boss lover. The doctor then begins negotiations with a representative of the CIA to turn Alex over for a large profit. Meanwhile, the KGB commander in charge of the conditioning and training of young Alex and many others begins to round up his missing students. Alex becomes more and more aware of his past as he is hunted down by four groups with differing motives- the crime family and the KGB to kill him, the CIA to use him as a tool, and the FBI looking to bring the other groups down. This is a martial arts/action movie with a strong love interest, a girl whom Alex tries to keep from mysteriously disappearing like so many others.

In March we shot a prequel in HD, but will mostly use that footage for a few brief flashbacks. You can see a trailer, titled The Russian Experiment, at our website. (WARNING: MAY CRASH BROWSER) If you have trouble viewing it and are interested, I would be more than happy to mail a dvd."


The Burning
"Ethnic movies can do great if you keep the purse strings tight and finance them through one of your indie studios. Crime movies are the breadwinners of low budget, although gay movies are edging them out gradually. I'm not familiar with Uzbekia or wherever this alex character is from, but this might work if you make him gay. Especially if Uzbekia is one of those countries where they cut gay's heads off, then you could script a scene where he's about to get his head cut off by this big decapitation machine and then right as the executioner is about to pull the lever his lover, a sniper, shoots the executioner. Not sure how you'd work the CIA, KGB, FBI and mafia into that one, but I'm not sure how the hell you were going to work all of them into your original. Generally having four groups of adversaries for the protagonist leads to a confusing mess. But hey, who am I to judge you, Mr. Bigshot I-Film-Action-Movies-In-Uzbekia."
A smart studio would…take your idea and shoot it in the Hollywood Hills with some slipping B-listers and a lot of bottle tan.

The Pitch
Kyle P.'s "In 3-D"
Think…Plan 9 From Outer Space meets Ed Wood
"A fan of cheap, cheesy B-movies recieves a DVD of a lost 50's film, SAUCERS OF DEATH, in the mail as a contest prize. When he plays the disc, the alien invaders in the film step into the real world and wreak havoc. After destroying these invaders and his DVD player, he pays a visit to the movie's director, who tells him the tale of an alien prescence in the film. The aliens hoped to invade Earth through the film, but luckily, the film was scrapped and stored in the studio's vault. A Wade Williams-esque collector rescued the film from the abandoned studio's vault, and that's all he knows. When our hero learns that the movie theater he works at is getting the original negative of the film for a late-night screening in celebration of its impending DVD release, he and his friends must stop the aliens from getting through, when our hero's friends don't believe him at first and run the movie, by burning the film, and the collector, who's in league with the aliens for a seat of power in their new world order, from mass-producing the disc. "


The Burning
"Oh man, horribly high CG budgets. See, you're thinking Purple Rose of Cairo with this junk and I'm thinking Last Action Hero and one of those movies was so bad it sent the lead actor running for politics. That's if you're lucky. It could be worse. It could be Cool World. Actually I might be thinking of Terminator 3 on that politics thing, but the point stands; the movies coming to life gimmick was tired two decades ago. "
A smart studio would…shoot a low-end pilot for one of the cable webs and, if it somehow gets picked up, bury it somewhere next to Andromeda in syndication.

Bruce Willis stars in The Pitch
Eric V.'s "Untitled"
Think…I don't like to use the 'blank meets blank' but I guess Goodwill Hunting spun in a blender with American Psycho
"A Man (john Doe) wakening up in a hospital with serious bandages. Police, nurses, doctors, all trying to interrogate him about the train accident, but he can't remember much. A special memory therapist is called in and works with him to 'Slowly' recreate the events of the train accident in his head.

Between breakthroughs of the train memory, the man recalls and discusses other key moments in life. Examples: Defending a smaller kid against a bully in grade school, shop lifting with friends during adolescence and getting caught, courting a high school sweet heart, buying his first home etc. - Things that make him look successful, yet still normal.

After the train memory is complete, his memory therapist recommends he be placed under doctors supervision and begin therapy. Therapist explains to john Doe, that he attacked and killed a mother and her two children on the Train on his way to work. Held the driver hostage and crashed the train.

Lab tech comes in with report, and Therapist is reading rap sheet pulled from John Doe's finger prints. Assault, robbery, drugs, arms, fraud. We go back to flashbacks but this time showing our John Doe causing mayhem : ie. being the kid beaten up or being the cause of a bully beating up a weaker kid, shop lifting leading to car stealing, and drunk driving, instead of high school sweet heart we see him date rape his prom date, maybe thrown in jail. etc

Cuts to TV news channel airing talking heads discussing the horrific train accident and the suspect."


The Burning
"Ha ha, holy crap, kid. You spent an awful lot of time thinking up ways to make Unbreakable even worse than it was. Nothing is more annoying than a plot that's non-linear for the sake of being non-linear and a story that is told gradually through flashbacks doesn't do a lot for me. Yeah, the Academy may have rewarded the English Patient, but that's because they're a bunch of mouth-breathing saps who still had a hard on for Fiennes after his farting Nazi asshole in Schindler's List. Unless you're going to get Fiennes to wet some panties then you've got absolutely zero market for this movie. No self-respecting audience will sit through a three hour flashback (I can tell you're imagining a frigging epic with this one) just so they can discover the big twist ending that the hero is actually the bad guy. Gotta love that 'etc.' near the end and your description of camera cuts in a four paragraph pitch. Hey, I wonder if the executive will be interested about whether or not you are imagining a hard black, fade to white or a horizontal wipe! I'm only kidding, no executive will ever hear this horrid pitch, etc."
A smart studio would…lock the doors and turn around the "out for lunch" sign.

Yikes! Mr. Orenstein brought the pain and the burning to several unfortunate dreamers. If you still have a great pitch idea for a movie you can feel free to email me and I'll pass them along to him for burning when he gets the chance. For those of you heartbroken by the soul-crushing Mr. Orenstein administered, just remember that he spared you a trip to Hollywood. There's also a silver lining to this cloud: George had Dan H. and Cindy N. sign a letter of intent with his studio and they will be exploring their pitch for "Count Crackula" in much greater detail.

– Zack "Geist Editor" Parsons (@sexyfacts4u)

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