When you talk to screenplay writers, they are often a little sketchy. They want you to sign all sorts of nondisclosure agreements to talk with them, because they believe everyone is out to steal their screenplay script. That is complete and utter paranoia, and probably not justified. The reality is not everyone is out to steal their screenplay, however some are. Indeed, it probably depends on where they are the time, for instance in Hollywood.
Good ideas, and original thoughts are hard to come by, and many writers who come up with brilliant scenarios and situations of the human endeavor, do have original thoughts. Still, one thing I found even after signing nondisclosure agreements is people come up with movie scripts in a certain genres which have been done many times over. In fact, sometimes the situations they describe are not unique at all.
Instead, they may have either seen the movie and forgot they saw it whichave them the idea, or they are such loners that they do not realize these are common experiences that people have from time to time anyway. There is another situation which happens, and that is with people who may not be are screenplay writers, but they are perpetual storytellers, they make situations that never happened to them but they tell them in the first person.
Now then, some of these people are delusional, and their memories have been tricked by a movie they saw, or they force them into identifying with the character in their minds to the point where they've rededicated the story and made a believable. They think it is okay to tell other people the story, because they believe it, so other people will believe it to. It's even more interesting when these same people are writers.
The other day, I was talking to someone at a local Starbucks, and he was telling me a story, as if it was something that happened to him, but it was something that I actually saw in a movie, and I am assuming he did two, or that that he read a book which the movie was based on. It's not the first time this situation has happened to me, I find storytellers all over the place. I'm beginning to wonder if we have a mental problem in our society – and one which completely permeates the world of creative writers.
Interestingly enough, maybe the people who are paranoid that someone will steal their screenplay, are the very people who were stealing situations and events that they saw in a movie and telling them as first-person stories of their own experience. This is something I suspect, and I have not read much about the psychology of this issue, but since this pattern keeps repeating, it would seem to me that we do have a psychological problem with humans adopting movies as personal experiences and allowing it to trick their minds and memories, or using these movies to live vicariously through, almost to the point that they are no longer living their own lives.
In any case it concerns me, and if you've had similar experiences with people you meet, why not e-mail me, and let's compare notes.