What a year. Christmas morning last year Mel and I journeyed to a quiet little coffee shop in Monterey completely oblivious to the tiny little fact that she had been recently knocked up. By me, of course. Seemed worth noting. A year later and the creature is among us. This morning we bound the beast to her Bugaboo and walked the ocean to Starbucks for some Yule Tide Mochas.
Two issues we should discuss. One pertains to the creature above. I realize those who come to this site to read about the ongoing struggles of a working writer, those who take joy in the blood, gore and proper use of sharp instruments in my writing may be experiencing cute and fuzzy overload. Well, here’s the thing. Writers write. They’re near unemployable at anything else. I know I am. And I’m a firm believer that life experience makes good writers. The good times and the bad. And oh have I had my fair share of both. And although I take pleasure in complaining about the lows, I would not trade them in for all the gold in YouTube’s vault. truth is, them highs and lows makes for better writing.
Currently I’m experiencing great highs anytime I gaze upon the creature above. And it seems it would be unfair to neglect mentioning. So the creature has earned her place here among the stories and complaints that make up the life of a working writer.
Now, issue two.
I started this little online adventure for me. So that when I am old and grey I can look back and giggle at the journey. I’ve kept a journal since I was struggling to hold a job in construction back in good ol’ Nashville Tennessee. Once I joined the Hollywood game I figured, why not keep an online journal so that those who mistyped a search link could marvel in my misadventures. My goal was to shoot it straight. Hollywood ain’t nearly as glamorous as People Magazine and Entertainment Tonight would have you believe. It’s a tough road and had I known what I was getting myself into there’s a good chance I might have stayed in Texas.
But I also decided to record my adventures as a way for other struggling writers to see that they were not alone. The road is rocky and there are many obstacles. There is both good money and months of eating pot pies on sale 2 for 5 bucks while waiting for that next check to arrive or for one of your many projects to get a green light. The thing is, the life of a writer isn’t just about the end result. It’s about the journey. I’m a writer. Like I say, not much good at anything else. May as well enjoy the ride, flat tires and all.
As the fates would have it, I came out and had some good luck. Not make-you-rich-overnight luck but good luck all the same. Within a month of my arrival I was drawing a steady paycheck to write. Within three years I had my first movie in the can. Fact is, it was years before I realized that the journey was actually tougher than I thought.
And with no regrets I recorded those discoveries within the pages of this little journal. A few years back I was working on a video game called “Demonik”. Although I had a blast eventually I butted heads with one of the game developers. Game developers are to video games what writers are to movies. Like us, they don’t like to be told what to do. And here I was, some Hollywood punk coming in to pee in their sandbox. So, of course, I recorded my experience within my little journal. Before I knew it I was fielding phone calls. Turned out a popular gaming magazine had quoted my journal pertaining to the Demonik project. And for the first time I realized this little web page was getting more hits than just me. It freaked me out a little and from that day forward I was a teeny bit more careful about what I posted.
No more! I’m back, baby!
One of my concerns with my vomiting up my high and lows was that my lows might present me in a weak light. I was concerned that someone with the power to hire or fire might stumble in here and use my current lows against me. Well, if that happens, sobeit. Every writer, director, actor, producer, executive worth a spit has climbed the mountain only to fall flat on their faces. And most just get up and start climbing again. I’m a climber. Got the hands and feet of a monkey. Monkey with a keyboard to be exact.
Which brings us to the call in November. My managers had wanted me to write a horror script. One of those torture scripts following in the footsteps of “Saw” or “Hostel”. This wasn’t a stretch. My first spec sell was “Riddle Me This” and it was filled with torture. Of course, this was back before torture was so cool. Ahead of my times I guess. So, I wrote a nasty little adventure called “Medieval”. With the creature in Mel’s belly and striving to do all that she could to properly incubate and bake our unborn child, Mel stayed away from this little story. Once the creature made her 11.10 pound appearance Mel said she’d like to read “Medieval”. Six pages in I found her weeping. She couldn’t believe I’d written something so horrible during what should have been the most loving and nurturing time in our life. Well, can’t say as I blame her but a man has to attempt to put taters on the table.
So, the rough draft of “Medieval” went out to my managers and agents and soon after I got me a call from the agents. Now this was exciting for me. You see, I’ve yet to sell that million dollar script so getting a call from the agents is always a big deal. We bantered, we joked and then they told me I should consider finding a different agency.
This shouldn’t have come as a shock to me but it did. Although I’d never really gotten A-list time from them or even F-list time for that matter, I’m stupidly loyal if anything. They were quick to tell me that they “weren’t firing me”. They just didn’t like the torture genre and thought I could use the script to get a different agent. One that might have more time for me because they were swamped. They even suggested I initiate the move in order to save face. Basically tell people this was all my idea. They reiterated that I had a home at ICM but I shouldn’t count on their having time for me.
I grumped around the house for 24 hours then moved on. Sure it was a slap but they’re a business I guess and daddy just wasn’t making enough per year to justify their time. Oddly enough, that weekend we had a party at Thomas Jane’s house where we not only ran into one of my agents but spent an hour or so talking about young Izzie Rain and the joys and horrors of childbirth.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have some hard feelings but Hollywood is a fickle princess. Had luck leaned in a different direction then I wouldn’t be writing this. High highs and low lows. Welcome to life. The one thing that stood out was the statement that they weren’t firing me. How they could fire me considering I don’t work for them is another issue, but they were saying I had a home until I found another. For some reason that seemed to take the sting out.
Until three days ago, that is.
Three days before Christmas I got me a little Christmas letter from ICM. “As your agency relationship with ICM has recently been terminated, ICM will no longer hold itself out as your agency or act as a representative on your behalf…”
Of course, the norm would be for me to put a spin on this information. “They didn’t let me go, this was my idea! I’ve been unhappy for some time and have decided to seek representation elsewhere.” Fact is, I’m not the only writer who has recently found himself out in the cold. But I’ll bet ya I’m the only one admitting the severing of ties wasn’t my idea. Go figger. But the spin isn’t uncommon. Executives do it all the time. Anytime you hear about a top executive leaving a studio to start his or her own production company then you may as well chalk that up to the fact that the studio fired them. Happens all the time and the spin quickly follows. Because let’s be real, executives making million dollar salaries don’t leave giant studios in exchange for zero money and the “hope” of producing a movie.
But alas, I write fiction for a living. No need to do it here.
Thing is, although the perception is negative, this really doesn’t change anything. Most of the gigs I’ve gotten over the years, I got myself. Just decent ideas and a drive to outwork the competition. I loved having Nicole as an agent but business is business I suppose. I have my managers and a brilliant lawyer. Basically, don’t go shedding a salty tear for me. Daddy will be just fine and I wish continued success to ICM in their future ventures. But in an effort to keep it real and continue the ups and downs of the working writer…well…there you have it.
You are not alone, grasshoppers. We all climb, fall and get back up.
Write on brothers and sisters. And make note of the above. Best script I ever wrote.
Oddly enough, all this truthiness and negativity aside, 07 promises to be a pretty amazing year.
FJ Desonto of Comicbook Movies and I developed “Sleepers” as a three book manga slash film project. I have loved working on it and if I had to describe it I’d say it was one part Matrix, one part Blade Runner and two parts me. Excellent combo if I say so myself. Will she remain with Paul and the kids at Tokyopop? Well, come January we’re gonna make that decision. Either way, both the books and the script should hit the keyboard in 07.
Producer Michael Goldstein and I have a little TV pilot that we’ve taken to Evolution Entertainment. Them’s the kids what brought you Saw uno, dos and tres. If all goes as planned we start blitzing Hollywood come January.
I’m dancing in the world of a new spec. A gorrific look into the werewolf movie and I’m totally in love with it. I will have a finished script by the end of January.
“The Messengers” hits the theatres in February. I was the first writer on the project back when she was at Revolution Studios and called “Scarecrow”. Although I haven’t seen the finished product, I’m certainly looking forward to sitting in a dark theatre and enjoying the ride.
“Alien Pig Farm 3000″ hits the comic shelves in April. Of all the many gigs I’ve been a part of this one was the most fun. Working with actor Thomas Jane and Comic writer Steve Niles was simply the best experience so far. Don’t be surprised if this little jewel is on its way to film before the year’s end. Click on the pic above to check out Tom and Steve’s Raw Entertainment where you can see more on Alien Pig Farm as well as check out their other comic, “Bad Planet” with master artist Tim Bradstreet. You can also check out the movies Tom and Steve have in development.
And as a side note, look for Steve’s “30 Days of Night” to hit the screens this year and a big congrats goes out to Tom for nailing the lead in Darabont’s “The Mist”. Next to “The Stand” it’s my favorite Stephen King story.
I’m currently writing a new comic with Tommy Jane called “Lycan”. More on that later but it should be noted that there is true joy involved in writing comic books. To write a story and then see that story come to life in some of the most amazing artwork is simply perfection. You don’t get that from screenwriting gigs. In the movie biz you write something and then it changes. Nature of the beast these days though.
“Clock Tower” a script I wrote based on the Capcon Video Game is in pre production and last time I spoke with Luff at Mayhem he said they were about to sign their lead actress. It was one of the creepiest games I’ve played and if the movie stays true it should be one roller coaster of a ride.
“Psychopath” with John Carpenter hasn’t gone away. Our original goal was to make this little jewel as a video game first because as a die hard gamer myself I wanted to play it! But it looks like we may do a limited issue comic book series first. We’re finalizing a deal with a publisher currently but the fact is, this is a smart move because we then control the rights to the property. It’s a great story and Carpenter’s a genius so I have no complaints.
And although this next one has nothing to do with me, my buddy Dean Lorey’s “Nightmare Academy” book one will hit the book shelves in August through Harper Collins. And Universal Studios and Stephen Sommers picked up the rights to the first book. As a huge fan of the fantasy genre I can tell you that this one blows all the others away. The pic above was created by artist JP Targete. You can find the link to his work on the links page. Click the pic above to head over to Dean’s site where you can check out his blog entries on the adventures of a poor dumb screenwriter writing his first novel.
And since we’re on the subject of buddies who done gone and did good. Good friend and sometimes partner in crime, Patrick Lussier’s movie “White Noise: The Light” hits the theatres in January. It’s got the Han Solo from Firefly in it so you really can’t go wrong. Mel and I haven’t seen a movie in the theatres since the arrival of the creature but on January 5th we will be grabbing a baby sitter and feasting on popcorn. Click the pic above for the White Noise website.
EDIT: Just spoke with Patrick and the January release is UK only. Still to be announced in the States so it doesn’t conflict with their release of The Hitcher.
So, there you have it. 06 comes to a close. And you tell me. Are there any lows that could possibly pull me down with the above in my life?
I thought not. :)