It all starts as a dream...then a thesis. At least, that's what the 1971 dark comedy-drama Harold and Maude started out as. The script was originally the master thesis of UCLA student Colin Higgins which, while working as a pool boy for producer Edward Lewis, he showed to Lewis's wife, Mildred. She was so impressed that she convinced Edward to give it to Stanley Jaffe at Paramount. Higgins sold the script with the understanding that he would direct the film, to the point he did test shots for the studio. However, the shots proved unsatisfactory to the studio heads so Hal Ashby was hired, though he only committed to directing the film after getting Higgins' blessing and even let Higgins watch and learn from him on the set. To make this possible, Ashby made Higgins a co-producer. And his dream didn't stop there either.
While Higgin's story became a 20-minute thesis while at film school, he originally thought of it as a play. And after the film came out, besides becoming a novel, that's exactly what it was became. The play was so successful it ran for several years in Paris. Stay tuned!