I’ll keep this quick, I know you don’t have a lot of time. I’ve practiced this elevator pitch dozens and dozens… Shoot, there I go again. My screenplay idea is great: a disaster movie set in an elevator. A lot like this elevator we’re in now, come to think of it.
Our two main characters, say a budding young writer and a professional Hollywood type, maybe a producer just like you, are simply riding to the top floor. It’s funny, you’re a spitting image of the character I have in my head. It’s like you walked right off the doomed elevator on the page and into this extremely and eerily similar elevator.
Our conflict begins when the movie executive at Sony—huh, that’s where you work—refuses to hear the brilliant pitch from our heroic writer. The writer tries his hardest to make the executive see the obvious error of his ways, but the penny-pinching big shot won’t have it. He tries to get off and starts smashing buttons in the elevator. Hand-to-button pandemonium reigns! Then, the elevator stops!
Maybe it’s just a glitch, right? You never know when a simple elevator ride can slow to a crawl. I suppose death could be right around the corner for us… In the movie, of course!
Now, sir, I see you’re trying to get off before we reach the lobby. Careful, you wouldn’t want to end up like our main character Mr. Peterson, isn’t that right, Mr. Peterson?
Where was I? Right, the fatal pitfalls of refusing a work of incredible artistic genius in a doomed elevator in the East Wing of the Sony Studios building. Sorry to get specific. The terror could happen in any elevator in the Sony Studios building.
You don’t think hitting buttons would stop the elevator? Let’s find out! Ha-ha, look at this baby light up like it’s a Christmas tree. And right on time, we’re not moving! Uh-oh, lights went out too.
What a shout you have, sir! Just like I envisioned it, for my movie of course! Yes, keep those curses and insults coming, perfect dialogue.
So there we are, I mean there they are, our characters, me and you, cocooned in an unmoving metal lift hanging by a few pulleys hundreds of feet above the ground. The producer has no idea what to do. He’s a clueless wreck, his head only filled with the lukewarm rehashed plots of mainstream Hollywood. The producer gives up, cries out to a God he can’t muster belief in, admits his failures, even dribbles a little pee down his trousers. All seems to be lost….
Until! Our intrepid screenwriter thinks back to an even better screenplay he wrote, a heist movie set in an office tower that is definitely not a rip-off of the 2011 Eddie Murphy movie Tower Heist. It’s very different, both tonally and cinematically and it’s ridiculous people (including the vulture-faced lawyers from Universal Pictures) insist they’re “the same movie” and “clearly a copyright infringement.”
The screenwriter, who is also a pretty beefy dude, even though you might not notice because he doesn’t just focus on glamor muscles like some of the phonies at Planet Fitness who make fun of him for how much time he spends on the elliptical. You know, to get a good idea, grab a hold of these biceps for me. Get a grip around those bad boys. What do you mean “is that it?” That’s plenty of bicep for a growing man of thirty-six years of age.
I feel like we’re getting off the point, which is something that does not happen in my actual screenplay.
I know for a fact that there is an emergency switch under the upper-left panel on the elevator ceiling. I’ll simply backflip up, knock the panel out with a swift chop, hit the switch, and we’ll be on our way to freedom. Fade to black, roll credits, the Academy Award goes to… Us.
So, are you buying this screenplay or are you buying this screenplay and taking me out to dinner? I’ll take your silence as a “sure.”
What’s that? Oh, that panel thing is just in the movie. I have no idea how we’re getting out of this elevator. Sheesh, not everything is autobiographical, sir. I figure we’ll be stuck in here for a few hours. That’s actually perfect, plenty of time to describe my other screenplay: a psychological thriller about a scorned writer and hapless producer trapped in an elevator. Kind of like this situation…