The story of the Scarecrow is a nutty one. Here are the big beats.
The project was conceived at Blue Star (started by the son of one of the heads of Revolution Studios) a production company that developed movies for Revolutions Studios. Apparently the project was about to be scrapped. Although I had never heard of it, many genre writers had gone in and pitched. Revolution studios and producers didn’t like anything they heard. This just happened to be one of those times I called my agent begging for anything so she sent me their way. I met with Derek Douchy who was Todd Garner’s exec at the time. They wanted The Shining on a Farm.
On the drive home while chatting with Dean Lorey (we were likely planning our next Quake 2 frag session), I told him what I was thinking. We bantered and by the time I pulled up to my apartment, I called Derek back and told him I had the pitch.
I went back the following day and pitched the Horror version of A Beautiful Mind.
I got the job.
Following is what I wrote. It’s my second draft and my favorite.
This is when I met Patrick Lussier. He was brought on as director having just completed reshoots for their Darkness Falls. Patrick added a more supernatural flair to the story. Everyone loved the script. I had turned it in the week of the Darkness Falls Premiere. So… at the premiere I was enjoying the praise. I gotta say, it felt very nice. The following week … crickets. Turns out, Todd Garner, who was head of production didn’t like it. So the praise quickly went away. It’s a job security thing. I get it. I didn’t then.
Stuart Beattie was brought in to rewrite me. I like Stuart. Good writer. Aussie bloke.
His draft came in and Revolution decided they did not want to be in the genre business so they put the project into turnaround. It should be noted that currently Revolution is more or less in the “out of business” business. I don’t say that to be catty. Well, perhaps a little. But I grew up in this business back when everyone except New Line and Dimension looked down their noses at Horror. Scream changed all that. And everyone got on board. Sadly, Revolution just couldn’t grasp the idea of making genre films. Least not back then.
Turnaround means you put the whole project up for sale for the price of your cost. And/or you drop the price just to recoup some of your costs. 9 times out of 10 this means the project is dead. But Mandate and Ghost House grabbed it. Mark Wheaton was brought on and a year or so later The Messengers was born. It was…completely different from my story.
It still took place on a farm. Same character names. That was about it.
Movie came out…and years later, JR Young came across the above linked draft of Scarecrow. And read it. Next thing I know, I’m meeting with them about doing a “prequel”.
It should be noted that Wheaton had right of first refusal. That meant they should have gone to him first. And if he didn’t want to do it then they could come to me. But when he heard I was doing it, he didn’t rock the boat. It wasn’t until a year or more later that I learned this. Mark = good guy.
I mean that. In fact, he could have gone back to them while they were in production and forced them to make it write. Financially right. But Mark didn’t want to rock the boat I was in. Did I mention good guy?
So, I got hired to write a screenplay back in… was it 02? Then I got fired. The movie got rewritten and came out. Years later I was hired to rewrite what I originally wrote as a prequel… Messengers II: The Scarecrow.
For the most part screenplay to the prequel is very near to the original screenplay for Scarecrow (later titled Messengers). Although the ending of said prequel took a drastic change.
But the link is above if you are inclined to study the difference.
All in all you cannot say it doesn’t make for an interesting journey.