Back in 2003 I finished a spec screenplay on a 22-year-old Internet wiz who was worth around a $100 million. It was a little after the dot.com bust and the economy was still recovering from the events of September 11 so maybe the timing wasn’t the best for such a story. But I had read about how these young Silicon Valley computer guys were often young, very wealthy, and socially awkward and I was interested in exploring those aspect dramatically,
One of the first persons to read the script had a background in raising funds for feature films. He told me the young Internet wiz in my script was too young and too rich—and needed to be a college graduate. Ironically, the movie The Social Network (which opened this past weekend #1 at the box office) starts in the Fall of 2003. The story centers around Mark Zuckerberg, one of the creators of Facebook. Today Zuckerberg is a 26-years-old college dropout and estimated to be worth between $3 and $7 billion. (Yes, billion, not million.)
And my character was too young and too rich? Just a few days ago Forbes reported that Zuckerberg is donating $100 million to Newark, N.J. school system. My character was seen as being too rich just having $100 million and here’s a real life 26-year-old giving away $100 million. Take what people say about your scripts with a grain of salt—and be persistent in finding that one cheerleader for your story.
The Social Network movie was based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich with the script being written by Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, A Few Good Men).
“I’m not a frequent visitor on the Internet. I send emails and that’s about it…I didn’t know anything about Facebook any more than I know about a carburetor: I’ve heard the term but I couldn’t open the hood of my car and point to it or tell you what it does…The (Facebook) story is as old as storytelling itself; friendship and loyalty. Jealousy and power. Things Aeschylus or Shakespeare would have written about, or Paddy Chayefsky would have written about just a generation ago. Fortunately, none of them was available, so I got the job.”
Aaron Sorkin, screenwriter The Social Network
As quoted in Script Magazine
The Truth (?) About facebook article by Bob Verini
P.S. Three films worth seeing or revisiting that deal with friendship, loyalty, jealousy and power are the old John Houston film Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), Wall Street, (1987), and the silent film classic Greed (1924).
Related Post: Screenwriting Quote of the Day #43 (Aaron Sorkin)