I would be surprised if today's spotlighted story does not inspire an episode of Law and Order. Screenwriting professors tell us all the time to find film ideas in the newspaper, but that long-running TV series tend to steal all the interesting true crime plots. Still, being inspired by news is different from lifting it as near-completely as Law and Order does. We can look at an article about a man arrested for murdering a woman and removing her lungs and heart and literally adapt it for a film -- with proper rights acquired -- or we can think about the general idea of a jobless man being so desperate that he kills the owner of an employment agency in order to make money off her organs. This latter idea, I call ...

Making a Killing

If you read of the actual case, in which the alleged murderer had been stalking the victim for many years, it would seem to be a very precise situation. The guy goes to the woman's office to get a job, he makes advances on her, she doesn't give him work, he becomes obsessed with her, he's jailed 30 days for punching and choking her, she ends up with five orders of protection against him, he ultimately ends up killing her and taking out her organs. The details confine it from being a story about the overall problem of unemployment and the desperation it causes in people.
But loosen up the story and it could be more significant to the broader issue. I see it as a film somewhere between The Assassination of Richard Nixon, which took a true story and made it a reflection of the general disillusionment of the mid 1970s, and American Psycho, which is more of a satirical impression of 1980s narcissism. Each of those films involve somewhat exaggerated representations of their eras and feature protagonists who illustrate the extreme of human desperation. The script based on the recent actions of Huang Chen should be similar, while also involving the ever-popular idea of organ harvesting (a la Dirty Pretty Things).

As of this time, authorities do not know what became of the woman's lungs and heart, but regardless of what the truth is, assuming that Chen sold (i.e. 'made a killing' on) the organs on the black market fits more with the story of a man driven to the edge by hopelessness in the job market. We may also ignore the fact that Chen's initial encounter with his eventual victim took place years before the unemployment rate became a crisis. Maybe in the film he's a serial killer who has murdered multiple employment office workers as retaliation for his status. Again, it's all about being inspired by the true crime and altering it to your narrative and thematic needs.

Oh, and if anyone decides to turn this pitch into a film, be aware that characters based on Chen and his victim will need a change in ethnicity, because unfortunately Hollywood tends not to make movies with Asians as lead characters.
categories Cinematical