Films conceived by High Schoolers
January 14, 2008 6:10 PM   Subscribe

What popular movies were conceived of and/or written by the screenwriter when he or she were still in high school?

I'm going to be teaching a high school screenwriting workshop and I'd like to give them some encouraging examples of films that were conceived when the creators were in the 15-18 year range.

I know that Luc Besson started writing "The Fifth Element" when he was in high school. Can you give me any other examples that might appeal to American high school kids? Thanks a lot!
posted by np312 to Writing & Language (17 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The idea/concept/script for Superbad was apparently begun by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg when they were 13.
posted by atayah at 6:12 PM on January 14, 2008

Response by poster: er, I mean "when he or she -WAS- still in high school." Good thing I'm not teaching a grammar workshop.
posted by np312 at 6:13 PM on January 14, 2008

superbad. rogan and goldberg came up with it when they were 13.
posted by twistofrhyme at 6:13 PM on January 14, 2008


um, also, it's not a movie, but michael cera and clark duke are pretty young, and clark and michael will probably appeal.
posted by twistofrhyme at 6:15 PM on January 14, 2008

SE Hinton started work on The Outsiders in high school, but it wasn't published till she was 18 or 19 -- and it wasn't made into a movie till the early 80s.
posted by acoutu at 6:28 PM on January 14, 2008

This perhaps doesn't quite count, but Cameron Crowe went back to school at 19, posed as a student, and wrote Fast Times At Ridgemont High based on his experiences.
posted by forallmankind at 6:30 PM on January 14, 2008

OTOH, Cameron Crowe did do the stuff in Almost Famous (writing w/ Rolling Stone, touring with bands) when he was a teenager. So I think that qualifies.
posted by smackfu at 6:35 PM on January 14, 2008

Eragon, although it was a book first, it was written by Christopher Paolini at the age of 15. Of course I don't know if anyone in that age range would have liked the movie.
posted by JustAGuy at 6:42 PM on January 14, 2008

Wasn't Thirteen written by an actual 13-year-old?
posted by divabat at 6:52 PM on January 14, 2008

divabat, yeah, co-written by Nikki Reed.
posted by ORthey at 6:55 PM on January 14, 2008

Harmony Korine + Kids
posted by rhizome at 6:57 PM on January 14, 2008

Stuart Beattie came up for the idea for Collateral when he was 18 and Celeste Davis is 14.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:04 PM on January 14, 2008

posted by kimdog at 7:10 PM on January 14, 2008

Steven Spielberg

At Arcadia High School in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1963, the then 16-year-old Spielberg wrote and directed his first independent movie, a 140-minute science fiction adventure called Firelight (which would later inspire Close Encounters). The movie, which had a budget of US$400, was shown in his local movie theater and generated a profit of $100.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:37 PM on January 14, 2008

Cannibal the Musical by Parker/Stone of South Park fame was written while they were both at school
posted by mattoxic at 3:42 AM on January 15, 2008

I wrote The ELF Invades Sears in high school, and at least one stage production has been filmed. My logs say it's reasonably popular, but that may be just spambots looking for email addresses. I have not gone on to become a successful screenwriter, so perhaps this is best left as an example of what not to do.
posted by Caviar at 6:13 AM on January 15, 2008

Hot Fuzz is British, but given that the entire thing is an (only slightly tongue-in-cheek) homage to cop buddy flicks, and Bad Boys II and Point Break specifically, it ought to appeal to American kids, as long as you don't mind subjecting them to some particularly colourful swearing. It's a reworking (of sorts) of Dead Right, a film made by Hot Fuzz's director/co-writer, Edgar Wright, when he was 18 and still at school.

Dead Right (included on this DVD of Hot Fuzz) is, itself, pretty terrible, but you can see where lots of Hot Fuzz came from (not least the settings, since both were filmed in the same location); given that you're looking to do something for a screenwriting workshop for high school kids, it might be an excellent compare and contrast exercise – what worked on Dead Right, what didn't; what made it to Hot Fuzz intact, and why; the limitations of budget that any screenplay has to work with etc. – and since both Dead Right and Hot Fuzz are homages to a long-established genre, there's lots of good material in the commentaries about the use of cliches, genre conventions and much else.

There's also a commentary on Dead Right with 14 years hindsight, which again might prove handy, and – again, useful from a screenwriting perspective – a short documentary on how Wright and co-writer/star Simon Pegg built up characters, plot, action, narrative structure and so on in preparation for actually writing the script for Hot Fuzz; by the time they've talked through the mass of ideas on their flipchart, so much of the film is already there that it's clear writing the script is (pre-production, at least) the last bit of the process, and not the first.
posted by Len at 9:02 AM on January 15, 2008

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