I just spent the weekend in the woods with eight women on a writers retreat at the Weisel Youth Hostel in Nockamixon State Park. And while that sounds like the start of a really bad letter to Penthouse…
…I was there to try to breath life into a comatose manuscript. I added – at last count – ten pages, which represents a years’ worth at my current pace, so I think I can rate the weekend a success.
Most of my co-retreaters did even better, tacking on as much as 10,000 words onto their manuscripts. I envy their ability to get in the zone, and I’m already getting ready for next year by trying to figure out that Sylar trick, where I lobotomize them and steal their mutant writing powers.
I’m not sure what masterpieces will come out of this weekend, but it got me thinking about all the different ways a writers retreat would make a great movie. So I thought of a few and here’s my dream synopsis for each. Find them all after the break!
Writers, Retreat!: A writers retreat in the mountains coincides with the zombie apocalypse. Seven writers must find a way to survive zombie hordes, murderous rednecks, and each other in this horror- comedy by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. Nicholas Hoult plays a geeky horror writer who must call upon his expertise to keep the party safe. Mickey Rourke is the military/survivalist writer who we discover has been playing a role all along and is in fact a mild-mannered accountant named Gilbert. And Dame Judi Dench and Dame Helen Mirren play bickering sister parlor-room mystery writers who turn out to be surprisingly effective zombie-killing machines.
Chasing Alex: Mayhem ensues when a retreater’s toy poodle, Alex, gets lost in the woods. Alex, voiced by Michael J Fox – discovers a rag-tag collection of other lost animals, include Spudsie (Wanda Sykes) an overweight pit-bull with lots of sass, and Jean-Claude Van Dogg (Gerard Depardieu), an abandoned greyhound with a secret past. Kids will delight as Alex leads this crew of misfits in defeating a hungry bear, a hungry eagle, and an evil land developer set on selling the mountain resort to a strip mine. On the human side of things, Katherine Heigl plays Alex’s owner, a children’s writer (Alex is the star of all her books) with a bad case of writers block, John Lithgow is a curmudgeonly literary author with a surprising soft side, and James Marsden the park ranger who steals Katherine’s heart .
Writers’ Retreat: Six writers meet for their annual retreat and reflect on the past year. Ang Lee directs this introspective character study that delves into the heart of where the creative process lives. Jack Black, in his breakout dramatic role, plays Tully – a wildly successful genre writer who finds the more money and fame he brings in, the further he feels from what inspired him in the first place. Gwyneth Paltrow and John Cusack are two married (not to each other) authors who use the retreat to renew a yearly tryst and find that each has changed. Marisa Tomei, in another Oscar-nominated supporting role, plays Cusack’s wife who pays a surprise visit. Eddie Redmayne is Julius, a young writer who lives in the shadow of his highly renowned (and recently deceased) father (played in flashback by Game of Thrones Charles Dance).
Keyboards: Someone is knocking off writers! Nine frenemies take off for a cabin in the woods to find inspiration and discover a killer instead. But who? Is it Norman, the brooding horror writer portrayed by Christian Bale? Bink, Johnny Depp’s drunken travel writer? Susie Cutie, the neurotically-cheerful children’s book author played by Manic Pixie Dreamgirl Zooey Deschanel? Or maybe it’s the mysterious caretaker, played with laconic good humor by The Walking Dead’s Scott Green. Revel in this madcap whodunit directed by Stephen Soderbergh.
So – would you watch any of these? Who wants to help me write the screenplays?