3/29/15

In the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room (My Story Pitch for a Feature Film)

Writing your own adaptations of already established properties is a really effective creative writing prompt.

Some call it fanfic, I call it intellectual calisthenics.

Back in 2007, during a particularly "stuck" period, I decided to write my own version of a screenplay for "The Enchanted Tiki Room", one of my all-time favorite attractions at the Disney Parks.

I was even more inspired to continue my writing exercise after meeting Don Hahn.

I attended a special event at the Heartland Film Festival. I cornered the poor man at his lunch table, gave him the elevator pitch and he strongly encouraged me to keep developing the idea. (I have a bad habit of cornering celebrities and launching into my own version of The Chris Farley Show.)

While it's true I've sold two screenplays since then (both of which were haunted house stories), I haven't made a big noise to get the attention of Disney.

Unless they have a Google alert for "The Enchanted Tiki Room" and "desperate screenwriters". In which case, "Hi! I love you! Please pick me!"

Take a look at my pitch for "The Enchanted Tiki Room" below. (For you sticklers, the pictures below are just to help you get a feel for the genre and are not exact representations from the time periods mentioned.)




1941

Four longtime friends, now wealthy retired Los Angeles playboys, JOSE, MICHAEL, FRITZ and PIERRE decided that retirement didn't suit them anymore.

Bored to tears, fueled by their shared memories of life on the road during the Vaudeville era and all the classic films they made together afterward, they came out of retirement to partner for one last extravagant showbiz endeavor.

Just like in the old days, they packed their bags. This time, they traveled to the island of Hawaii. Inspired by USO shows they had each been a part of producing, they decided to set up a permanent club together, The Enchanted Tiki Room.

Business would be no problem between the soldiers stationed nearby and an ever-swelling first wave of tourists. To capitalize on this exotic setting, the partners began building the club a mile into the jungle, assuming that it would be such a success, development would eventually spring up all around it.


As soon as they had four walls and a ceiling, a full staff of entertainers were flown in from all around the world to begin rehearsals on the extravagant show.

The cast included beautiful French showgirls dripping in diamonds and feathers, an all-male singing chorus from Los Angeles called The Glee Club, dancing girls from New York in outrageous costumes designed by Ziegfeld himself, local Hawaiian percussionists, singers, dancers and many more.

One night, out of the seemingly clear night sky, a terrible thunderstorm erupted during a late night rehearsal. The next morning, every person in The Enchanted Tiki Room, include the four wealthy owners themselves, had vanished.

1954

Thirteen years later, Hawaii is still fresh in the imagination of the American public as an exciting new travel destination.

A quiet and reserved zoologist named NICK CARLYLE, working for the newly formed San Francisco Zoological Society, is tasked with flying to Hawaii to research its legendary population of wild tropical birds.

Upon arrival, he has a meet-cute with a talented, tough and beautiful lounge singer (a la Myrna Loy) by the name of Nora at the newly opened High Tower Hotel where he is staying.

Though he tries to get her attention, she rebuffs him. She's more concerned with the man back in her hotel room...DAVEY, her ten-year-old son. Nora, it turns out, is just a stage name. Her real name is LOLANI. She's a single mom, a native of Hawaii and like the rest of her fellow islanders, she's conflicted about all these new arrivals.

Nick also makes a buddy in a bored retiree named JIMMY. Kicking around the island with nothing better to do but tag along on Nick's ornithological field study, Nick decides to let Jimmy act as his field assistant. At least, that's what Nick thinks. Turns out, there's much more to Jimmy's story. (Hawaii is a great place to hide if you're running from the law or your debtors...or both.)

Fate leads Nick, Lolani, Davey and Jimmy into the lush Hawaiian jungle together one hot afternoon, where they promptly get lost and stumble upon the ruins of The Enchanted Tiki Room. A tropical storm kicks up, trapping them in the ruins together, where they will soon discover they are not alone. The performers from The Enchanted Tiki Room didn't disappear all those years ago. Not exactly...

There's ancient Hawaiian magic at play, curses, secret identities and yeah...musical numbers.

~

If for any reason, you stumble upon this and want the full story, screenplay pages, my ideal celebrity cast or just generally want to geek out over writing assignments, contact me! (If you paid really careful attention, you may have noticed the initials of the hotel, HTH. Sequel potential!)