Before we get down to business let’s take a moment to discuss the new website! Well, not new but certainly updated and made happy. Leaks fixed. Plumbing updated. Big shout goes out to my good friend Thomas Bartels. Met Tom through friends, one of which, the Sexy Olga, designed my original site way back in 2001! Anyway, I can’t thank Tom enough. He has a day job writing books. Books for the CIA. But took time out of his busy schedule to help a dumb bald guy out. Good man, Tom.
Okay. Let’s go darker for a moment. One of the reasons I asked Tom for help was all the leaks. One leak concerned the comments. They had been diseased by spam. And I was no longer getting updates when someone would comment. Thus I missed a commet from an early Septemeber post concerning many marvouslous happenings in the month of April. As with all my posts, the text was riddled with Izzie Pics. I was gonna nuke this comment then figured, freedom of speech blah blah blah. Since the comment was so thought provoking I decided to hit it with the spotlight.
hey dude are you lyk a rapist? shuld we watch out for you? idk you look really creepy & you take ALOT of pics of ur lil girl in skirts & stuff& im just sayin you look lyk a fucking creeper & i think u shuld really stop lol juss sayin..
Keke, go away and please don’t come back.
Now, let’s get on with SEPTEMBER.
On Sept 1st I decided it was time to stop procrastinating and do a journal update. I started scouring old emails, notes, messages and facebooks in an attempt to reconstruct my life.
Elizabeth Kushman (we had pitched the Kristy rewrite to she and Matt Stein a few days previous) emailtroduces us to David Kirschner and Corey Sienega, the producers attached to Kristy. David is the man behind the curtain behind Chucky.
Sept 3rd, Call with Kirschner and Sienega. It was a general call. Meet and greet. David is very passionate and reminds me of Cunningham slightly, the way Sean could be almost fatherly. David asked to read Drive Angry and said he would watch MBV3D that night.
After much consideration it was decided to go with Paradise for MBV3D. Why our loyalty to Paradise? Well, they did it right. We had 45 minutes of downtime due to 3D on MBV. Paradise’s offices aren’t fancy. More like a mechanic’s workshop. That’s because they build what you need. Shoot 3D in a mine? No problem. Shoot 3D from a car flipping over a man with a shotgun? No problem. They’ll build what you need. Something breaks, they likely have the part on hand.
Sadly, eventually, all 3D will be done in post…but for now, Paradise 3D is your best option.
Toward the end of the day Zach at DeLuca’s sends the narrowed down actor list for Drive Angry. It included our five favorites and ten or so runners up for Piper, Jonah and the Accountant. And that was the short list. Of those top fifteen. Pick any three, add them to Cage and you have one heck of a cast. It’s times like this. You know? This is why we put up with…it’s times like this.
Meanwhile, throughout most of this my afternoons, or most of them anyway, find Izzie Rain and I heading to the beach. Mel and I have found two secrets to happy childhood sleep. No naps and run them like the wind. It’s my job to take her to the beach and run her like the wind. And while I’m at the office making the magic, it’s Mel’s job to battle for forces of evil. Or as some might call them…naps. Dunno why. Dunno how. But if Izzie gets a 15 minute nap she’ll be up til 2am.
Sept 5th Gary J. Tunnicliffe, our master of FX on MBV3D and Patrick’s brother-in-arms for numerous years, toyed with a Cage pic and Photo shop to come up with some possible Milton looks. One day I’ll show you. Instead, I’ll show you some of Gary’s work.
Most of the time, Patrick and I get the bulk of the attention for MBV3D and while that’s sweet, we’ve never made it a secret that it could not have been done without the tireless efforts of a small and very loyal army. But when it came to the actual creative mechanics, if there were two other stand out Beatles it would be DP, Brian Pearson and FX madman, Gary Tunnicliffe.
Gary done this to me. Over and over and over.
September 9th, an email thread goes back and forth concerning the reason we had yet to be paid:
“…from Silver Pictures – they asked me to pass along their apologies and blamed some kind of payroll company hiccup.”
It’s funny. I used to get all stressed. Well, of course, I still do but now I have at least a secret weapon against it. As bad as it gets I can always say, “Hey, Izzie.”
On September the 11th there were some bumps in the road with Drive Angry. I do not recall what they were. There are always bumps. But I’m reading an email thread now that results in my and Patrick informing agents and Frankel (lawyer) that we agreed with the lawyer’s counsel and would remain on the path with Millennium, regardless the bumps.
Frankel’s reply was that we “…ease on down the road.”
To which I replied, “…did anyone else just get a mental image of Frankel performing The Wiz?”
Patrick: “Yes. He’s Nipsy Russell.”
Frankel: “Michael Jackson”
Edit: And this is likely the thread that killed him.
For those what don’t know. Them are Izzie tracks. But as is the way of the Izzie, by the time you see the tracks, by the time you know she’s in the area. It’s too late.
Sept 12, Conference call with Malek, Bob and Matt to discuss Halloween 3D.
This call was a production meeting. There were no deals and only a rough pitch. The bulk of the call was…can it be done in the time we’ve got? We said yes. But no mistakes. No BS. No overdevelopment. No second guesses. We told them we’d have them a detailed outline in two days. An outline detailed enough to prep from. We told them we could do it if we can have our crew. No lowballing. We need the crew that can do the job right the first time. We told them that we’d give them a script that was ready to shoot. The excitement was infectious. We were asked to get them a treatment and we’d start prepping on that. The call ended with confidence high.
Sept 14th. (I’m looking over the emails and calendar through the rest of September and my head is spinning. How we survived it is anyone’s guess.)
So…two days after our call with Malek and Bob we have a 40 pages treatment. Needless to say, it’s very detailed. Fully envisioned set pieces, characters and dialog. We’re told to hold off on delivering until the deals are signed.
Meanwhile, Bob’s in Toronto. And so is Avi. Avi Lerner = Millennium. Let me back up a little. Because this all gets very complex. But here’s the simple version.
A couple months back we sent Drive Angry to producers first. Due to Patrick and Bob’s History, Bob was one of the first to get it. And one of the first to pass. But here’s the rub. Bob never saw it. Someone read it on his behalf and passed. Fast Forward. Millennium purchases Drive Angry for Nic Cage. Bob reads it. Wants it. And while very simplistic…that brings us current.
What follows…and I can’t even begin to speculate…all takes place above my pay grade. But there was apparently some gambling, wheeling and dealing.
Lunch: Patrick and I meet with Malek. We start at his office and later hit a sushi joint. Well, joint is the wrong term. Lunch cost more than I got paid for Messengers.
Now. Here’s what was interesting. I expected not to like Malek. Not sure why really. Guess because he’s the kid. Daddy built the empire. But I simply loved him. Patrick and I both did. Malek was on his game. His questions were smart. We had smart answers. Once we won him over there was zero hesitation. He was a powerhouse. We do this. We get this guy. We move now. I can make this call. I can make that call.
We left that meeting and suddenly it was all very real.
Thing is, Patrick and I have complete confidence in each other. But we left that meeting having full confidence in Malek. He was that good.
Plus he gave us FEAR shirts.
Later that day I ask Frankel if I can get flights to the locations for Mel and Izzie. He says he’ll ask but reminds me that we are fighting just to get me there and treated properly on Drive Angry. But that Bob will likely take care of me on H3D.
Sept 15th, Patrick informs Paradise of H3D and they begin putting together a bid.
Sept 16th. We finally receive our delivery check for the ISWYD draft we delivered 103 days ago.
Sept 17, we pitch Kristy to Bob.
I’m not sure why we were asked to do the Kristy pitch. Kristy is a good project. Very smart script as is. But with H3D, just seemed like one two many pots on the stove. Bob seemed to have the same question. We pitched it. He liked it. We spent most of the time talking about H3D. Bob assumed our deals had closed. Seemed annoyed that we were not.
That night. Malek sends an email. I wish I could share it. It’s like…I can’t even explain it. I’ve been doing this Hollywood thing since ’96. When I got here I was happy and loved movies and loved people…now I’m just a big dark pit of hate. When dealing with producers and executives there’s always this guarded nature. This car salesman thing. Or snake oil salesman thing. Then…in the same year I end up working with Mike De Luca and Malek Akkad.
It’s truly the difference between a Oldsmobile and a Ferrari. Of course, for that comparison to work then you need to have driven a Ferrari. The first time I drove a Ferrari I was like, WHOA! I get it now! Holy Cow! Same thing with these guys. Before I couldn’t comprehend it. I couldn’t comprehend just how much better it was. Because in the world of producers, it wasn’t until recently that I got to see a Ferrari in action. And I got two.
Anyway, here’s what I will share of Malek’s email:
“All the announcements and leaks, true or not, will make it tougher but we’ll get it done. Always do.
I’m confident you’re up to it, and as we move forward you’ll see that I’m there for you 110%.”
The man is a class act.
At the end of the day, Izzie and I Burley to the ocean. Then it’s two miles back to the 17th Street Grill for chicken and chips.
(I just read a chat thread between Patrick and I that went from 7:44 to 9:04am. In the thread we banter back and forth about everything that will come out of the H3D script that day. Should we do this or this? Two couples and two lesbians or all straight? High school or College? College dormroom may be easier to redress from previous sets. Yes but high school feels more Carpenter. Agreed. I read this thread and I get it. I get us. I understand why it works. Why we work.)
Thus, since only one of us can write at a time, he runs off to fight the battles and I chain myself to the desk. And yes, I’d started on the script…although officially there was no deal. But see, this was Adult Swim. There just wasn’t the time to play dickhead. Either we’d get screwed or we wouldn’t. But if we had any chance of making a good movie we HAD to get the script finished ASAP. So, I did what I do. I dug in. I wrote.
For Patrick and Malek it was all about fighting the storm. The holy cow of it all was starting to sink in. So many questions. So much to do. So little time. It was mid-September, what was the latest we could start filming and be able to finish before Dec 22? Because once we wrapped that was it. No going back. January would have Patrick and I starting prep with De Luca and Cage. So that had to be worked out. It was decided we’d shoot in Shreveport (where we’d be shooting Drive Angry). Was it cheaper to start earlier or go with 6 day shoots? While the math might have you saying 6 days…you gotta understand 12 hours a day for six days gets old really fast. When the crew suffers, moral suffers. Moral suffers the shoot suffers.
So many questions to answer! No second guesses! No time for debate!
Are the returning actors available during our window? Because if they aren’t we’re dead before we start. Neither Patrick, myself, nor Malek wanted to replace any returning actor.
Can we still get our crew? We need Brian, Gary. We need Tom Elkins to bring this bird home in the end because Patrick and I will be driving in 3D.
Speaking of which…how will Avi and Millennium react to all of this? What will De Luca say?
Last thing we wanted to do was spread ourselves so thin that we could only give 80 percent to both movies.
Later that day. This is why Michael De Luca is a Ferrari. Patrick runs the idea of doing H3D before Drive angry. As our producer he suggests we blow it off and stay focused on DA. “…BUT as your friend I’d say go for it, no one is feeding your family except yourself and we can help you with casting and maximize your time so you don’t waste any of it.”
Michael De Luca = a red Ferrari.
John Wells wins WGA presidency.
Now, understand at the end of each day, I shoot pages to Patrick. He’s been out killing himself all day, then he sits down, reads, writes and fires it back to me. Lots of coffee and very little sleep.
Sept 19th: This is why Patrick is a Ferrari. The negotiations begin on H3D. Patrick wants me there when he’s there. Travel, hotel, car and so forth. Lawyer informs us that they will never agree to it. But Patrick won’t let it go. I’m unaware of this because I’m avoiding email in order to avoid all distraction. End of the day, I see the thread and chime in.
I have to be there when Patrick is there. We are on a tightass schedule and we simply don’t have time to screw around. If they want to fly me coach, fine. They want to stick me in a craphole motel, fine. They want me to take the bus, fine.
But I have to be there when Patrick’s there and that we need in writing. And, of course, I want my per day stripper/booze money.
In the end I get co-producer and travel and so forth. But had little to do with me. It was mostly Patrick pushing our team to fight.
Sept 20th, we discuss a scout for the following week. No second guesses. No hesitation.
First act done. We tell them we’ll have a draft on the 26th…by Saturday. In time to spread out before the scout.
Sept 21st, Stanley Pearse, location manager suggests one of our main locations and take pics. Patrick loves, asks they start checking availability.
In a bit of “It’s a small world afterall”, I get an email from Renee Geerlings. I met Renee three, maybe four years ago. Renee married Tyler Mane. Tyler Mane placed Michael in H1 and H2. Tyler had spoken with Malek. We were all on the same page. It was nice to reconnect. The hope was that we somehow continued to pull this crazy thing together. All fingers were crossed.
Sept 22nd: Gary Tunnicliffe sends a list of kills from the outline to make sure they are consistent with the script as he needs to start prepping FX. I clarify those that have changed, been nixed or added. Wow. Lotta death in this one. :)
Halloween 3 is 6th on the Top 15 3D Movies In Development list at IGN.
I schedule a time to visit Gary the following week before we leave for the scout as I will likely play a small role that requires some of Gary’s sweet FX loving.
September 23rd, Stanley sends the location website link which he’s filling up with pictures.
We send an email to Bob and Malek requesting an H2 DVD. We’d seen it but, just in case. By the end of the day, the email is routed to the proper channels and Jeff has DVDs in the mail to both Patrick and I.
During all of this, Bob/Matt wanted the 40 page scriptment tweaked to address their notes. Sort of a stupid thing to do considering we were scrambling to plan AND write the script but Hollywood ain’t known for being unstupid. So, with everything on his plate, Patrick was also forced to deal with that. There were actually some good notes. Bob’s notes were simple. He wanted more 3D. More flying at your face. Meh. We’d do it then likely later cut it. But Malek has some very smart notes. The first I resisted. Oh man did I resist it. But he was right (and now that the script is complete I see just how right he was).
Late on the 23rd, Millennium asks us to create a short half page synopsis of Drive Angry for use during foreign sales. Since we didn’t have anything else going on we said sure.
Sept 24th. And on top of everything else. Drive Angry still moves forward. At some point through the above, Patrick meets with an actress for Piper. Loves her. Later same actress meets with DeLuca and team. They too love her. Will still all come down to her audition in January but she’s a front runner.
Sept 25th, Patrick has a chat with Matt Stein, Bob’s Darth Vader. Patrick tells him if we want to keep to the proposed budget and schedule we need to get make-up FX started.
Matt replies that Gary needs to lower costs.
This made us scratch our heads and giggle. Uh… Patrick replies, “Fine, cut kills and we will. Which ones do you want us to lose?”
Matt replies that he can’t decide. They need to see the script.
More head scratching (this was likely the beginning of the end…we just didn’t know it).
Patrick replies at length. Reminds him that we started the script one week ago today. That we’d turn in a draft tomorrow. That we were told we could start prep from a treatment…clearly that is suddenly not the case.
Matt replied that he understood our concerns but was waiting on approvals.
Again, Patrick replied, If we are stuck waiting on approvals for every single part of the process then we will absolutely not be able to accomplish this. Patrick tells him, our team’s in place. We are ready to roll. But without your support we simply can’t do this.
Later that night:
On Sep 25, 2009, at 9:20 PM, Patrick Lussier wrote:
Malek & Andy,
Todd and I have gone through the first draft each once. We’re gonna sleep on it, then make one final read thru in the a.m. Our hope is to have it to you in the afternoon. I haven’t told the Weinstein Group yet, but will wait and inform them tomorrow.
Both Todd and I are excited about the progress. For 8 days of scripting, holy crap, it’s a movie. Right now we’re sitting at 95 pages, which feels like a solid place to be.
Please bare with us for one more read and tweak to make sure we haven’t missed anything too noticeable, and you’ll have it tomorrow.
Sept 26th, as stated. We read a couple more times. Fixed a type-o here and there. And sent it to the powers that be on Saturday afternoon. 8 days. Wow.
So, script turned in…I turn my focus on young Ms. Izzie Rain. She is three this day. Happy Birthday to my greatest accomplishment.
Later Johnny Martin starts sending car pics to consider for the Drive part of Drive Angry.
Sept 27th we sent the following to Millennium.
Drive Angry stars Nicolas Cage as Milton, a hardened felon who has broken out for one last chance at redemption. Hell bent on stopping the vicious cult of fanatics who murdered his daughter, Milton has three days to stop them before they sacrifice his infant grand-daughter beneath a full moon. Milton must use his anger to go beyond all human limits to save his last connection with humanity.
He’s joined by Piper, a young sexy-smart waitress who liberates her ex-boyfriend’s cherry muscle car in order to help Milton. Now, the two of them are hot on the trail of the charismatic Jonah King and his murderous followers. King will throw every one of his faithful under the wheels of Milton’s turbo-charged Black ’71 Challenger, to fulfill his destiny and unleash Hell on earth.
But the blood-thirsty cult is the least of Milton’s problems. The police are after him. And worse. An enigmatic killer known only as “The Accountant.” The Accountant knows what Milton’s trying to do, and simply doesn’t care. With wicked cunning and hypnotic savagery, the Accountant will relentlessly pursue Milton at high speed across the forgotten back roads of the American south.
Fueled by high octane and pure rage, Milton and Piper must battle the onslaught of King’s disciples, avenge his murdered daughter, and save his grand-daughter before his last chance at redemption is revoked.
(Somehow between Sept 27th and AFM it would get retyped and gain three major type-os which blitz the internet. Sigh.)
We hear from Malek. He loves it. We hear from Matt. He loves it. No one has seen or heard from Bob. Not even Matt.
On Monday the 28th of September, Bob calls Patrick. He had not read the script. He said they can’t do it. Not now. They need time. He wanted us to agree that it was a mutual agreement.
Patrick calls to inform me and my head spins.
Later we go back and forth with Malek. He’s just as sucker punched. But, so you guys know, the script rocks, so it isn’t that. And that’s not just from me, it’s from Andy, and the production supervisor, and even the accountant! If the accountant likes it…
We did our job. And we did it well. Bob was saying we’d all come back together after Drive Angry. Most felt that would NEVER happen. I held out hope. The lawyers were rumbling that come the morning they’d start hearing all the excuses NOT to pay us. Again, I held out hope.
We did our job! And we did it well! We were accountable. Of course, those we were dealing with would be just as accountable. It was hard enough thinking about the fact that we would not be doing the movie now. We’d just killed ourselves to get a script done and this was adult swim. We delivered a great script. Last thing I wanted to do was think about all the ways sinister dark forces were lying in wait to destroy us. I refused.
It would all work out. Things were going to get better.
Sept 28th, Patrick and I get a call from the WGA. I do not understand nor do I want to understand all the details. The gist is this. Patrick and I would be pawns in a game being played by large powerful entities sitting in seats way up high in the sky.
Writers complain and bitch and moan quite a bit. Think maybe there’s a reason?
Been a rough day. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE getting kicked in the balls but they were starting to ache a little.
Izzie Rain self portrait.
So that brings us to the end of SEPTEMBER.
(As I sit here about to hit publish, I can’t help but wonder if Bob ever read it. Tom Atkins read it. Loved it. We wrote him a part. I sent it to some trustworthy fanboys. They loved it. One even commented: “When Laurie (did that thing which I’m not going to print here) I physically jumped. I’ve never jumped while reading a script before.” Sigh. This really is a crazy business.)
Coming soon! Uh…what month is nex…October!