(first appeared in The Bone Parade – October 2012 issue)
In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger came up with a thought experiment in which a cat is stuck in a sealed box with a glass vial of poison that will be shattered at a random time. Until you open the box the cat has to be considered both alive and dead due to the fact that you cannot know if the poison has been released. Most people are familiar with this paradox but what most of them don’t know is that it was actually a critique of the Copenhagen interpretation not an explanation. He believed that by showing the counterintuitiveness of quantum mechanics he could throw an unfavorable light on the math needed to describe quantum states.
In 2010 a writer named Phil Catani started to write a screenplay called Schrödinger’s Cat. He has spent the last two years shopping it to agents and filmmakers alike. It has been pitched as an action adventure where the misunderstood hero has only a few hours to save the beautiful scientist trapped in a sealed container with a vial of poison. It has been pitched as an intense drama centering on the life of a bright up-and-coming mathematician and his struggles against both the evil teachers union at his place of employment and his own crippling insecurities. It has been pitched as an interracial buddy flick called Schrödinger & the Cat. It has been pitched as a sci-fi epic that has a regular ending and a special Director’s cut alternate ending. It has been pitched as a comedy where the beleaguered main character gets trapped in a sealed container with a cat.
There has been interest from a few influential individuals but to date no offers have come. Phil has gone through periods of sincere optimism and deep self doubt. With so many relational observers in Hollywood it is fair to say there is equal evidence to support both interpretations of his prospects. The system in place to determine which screenwriters are successful and which will labor in obscurity is so flawed that Phil seems unable to observe whether or not progress is being made. At times he wonders if there really is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks.
He is deeply in debt and yet he knows that if he can sell one script he can achieve financial independence. He can’t get a date but he knows if he can sell one script he can sleep with models. Nobody wants to talk to him but if he can sell a script suddenly his opinions on almost any topic will be in great demand.
He knows that in ten years he will know how it all turned out.
But right now, Schrödinger’s Cat tucked under his arm and on his way to another pitch meeting, he is both a success and a failure.