How A Loaded Gun Motivated Screenwriter Paul Schrader To Write ‘Taxi Driver’

By Sean Tuohy

It’s pretty easy to tell from watching “Taxi Driver” that the person behind it wasn’t in the best mindset. Screenwriter Paul Schrader has become one of Hollywood’s most interesting filmmakers, but before the fame he was a broke, homeless, and suicidal writer.

During the 1970s, Schrader was going through somewhat of a rough patch. His girlfriend dumped him, he had no money, nowhere to life, and no career to speak of. Schrader spent his evenings driving around the city, thinking, and occasionally breaking into his ex’s house when she wasn’t around. 

Schrader wanted to share how he felt so he wrote a screenplay (this was pre-Twitter; a much simpler time).

Schrader needed to stay motivated so he hung up a poster of a cat hanging on a wire that said ‘Hang in there, baby” and then started working.

Just kidding, only Daniel Ford does that. No, Schrader came up a more…creative way to stay motivated. He left a loaded handgun on the table. Nothing says, “Stay at it,” like a .45 threatening you.

But it worked. Schrader finished the script in 10 days and then went on to have an incredible career (until he made “The Canyons”).

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Not Coming Soon: The Top Unproduced Action Scripts Part 3

By Sean Tuohy

We're happy to see that you've all returned to Part 3 of our ongoing series "The Top Unproduced Action Scripts." If you're just joining us, you might want to catch up with Parts 1 and 2.

Let's not waste any time here, folks. Below are five more scripts that were written by some talented souls, but for one reason or another Hollywood decided not to make them into a movie. What a shame.

Let the show begin!

"Apogee" by Andrew W. Marlowe

There have been a lot of "Die Hard"-like movies over the years, but Marlowe's script set in space is one of the most original. Who wouldn't want to see "Die Hard In Space?" As over-the-top as that plot line sounds, Marlowe keeps the story grounded and keeps you turning the page in this well-paced script. The bad guys have ice water pumping through their veins and they are armed with microwave guns. Yeah, that's a thing. The good guy is a damaged soul trying to set things right in his life while saving the world at the same time. Throw in some zero gravity fight scenes above the Earth and you've got a great action movie.

Will this ever see the light of day?  I hope, but a movie like this cannot be done as a straight to DVD movie. It has to be a summer blockbuster. A movie like this is meant to be watched for thrills and chills while wolfing down popcorn and sipping ice cold cola. In a world where one-off movies are dying(or already dead) I don't know if a movie like this would be considered by Hollywood executives. However, put in the right hands of the right filmmaker, this movie would be stellar. Oh, and since it is set in space Ed Harris has to be in it as the head of  NASA mission control.

"True Believers" by Doug Richardson


This is Mr. Richardson's second appearance on our list. Hats off to him.

As you all know here at Writer's Bone, we are big fans of Doug Richardson as both a screenwriter and novelist. The story behind True Believers is almost as interesting as the story itself. It started life as a thriller novel—one that kept me up at night and made me miss my bus stop more than once—before Richardson turned it into a screenplay. The screenplay is tight, fast-paced, and filled with strong, well developed, and sinister female characters that leap from the page. You are pulled into a dark world filled with evil souls from the opening paragraph of the screenplay. I highly recommend reading the book before you pick up the script because it provides you a chance to see a writer approach his craft in two different ways.

True Believers the novel is filled with multiple characters' point of views, settings from coast to coast, and intriguing subplots. Most of those elements are removed from the screenplay, but the core of the story stays intact.

Will this ever see the light of day?  Well, they already tried once and you can read what happen at Richardson's blog about the mess that it became. I hope that a director picks this up and does it right if given the chance. The lead role of Will Sullivan would be a great part for a young, up-and-coming male actor and the  mischievous character of Izzy has to be filled by a drop dead looker with an evil twinkle in her eye.

"Gunslinger" by John Hlavin

Westerns are dead for the most part in Hollywood, but every once in a while a gifted writer comes along with a new spin on the genre. That's the case with "Gunslinger." This action script tells the tale of a Texas Ranger pulled into a bloody war with drug cartels. The main character is a man of few words who goes through hell during the end of the second act to beat the bad guys. The script is not long, but carries one hell of a punch. This fast read is one of the best westerns I have read in a long time.

Will this ever see the light of day?  I hope, but I have a feeling that Hollywood may take this and turn it in to a low budget straight to DVD kind of movie. They may put in a second tier action actor and take out a lot of the character building moments and replace them with bland action scenes.

"Killing Pablo" by Joe Carnahan

I love Joe Carnahan! "Narc" is on my top five favorite films of all time and top ten scripts of all time. Carnahan is an incredible writer and, when given the chance, writes fantastic dialog. I was thrilled to hear he was going to tackle the international best selling story about drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.  Carnahan did a great job of taking tons of facts and many characters, most of them Spanish speakers, and fitting them into a great script.

Will this ever see the light of day?  Carnahan left this project so I am not sure if it'll ever get made. If Carnahan had stayed involved we would have seen an epic crime drama. Carnahan has a talent for putting real characters in very violent worlds and making you root for them. This is a story we all know—well a powerful crime lord hunted down by law enforcement—but the story of Pablo Escober is legend status and needs to be captured on film.

"Uprising" By David Twohy

David Twohy knows how to write fast-paced sci-fi thrillers with a great human element and "Uprising" is no different. Starting with a bang that you can only find in sci-fi, "Uprising" combines  "The Great Escape" with "Independence Day." The story follows a group of soldiers held in a POW after an alien race invades Earth and the captured troops must find a way to break out of the alien prison.

Will this ever see the light of day? It looks like it may get made, but I am not sure by which studio. Twohy goes into the history of the alien race, giving them a little more backstory than your normal alien invasion movie. This could be a summer blockbuster with big cast of well-known older actors mixed with young newcomers and some great special effects thrown in. That's a recipe for a great movie.

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