March Recovery

10 years is a long time to keep a journal.

Here’s a story most of us already knew… OR most of us claimed to have read when actually we had simply suffered through a very not so good animated version. Either way my heart still pounds watching this trailer for a movie I’ve seen a dozen times.

In the on going story of “Everyman gets screwed”, in March Mel got a notice that my insurance had been cancelled. I called Patrick. His was fine but that was only due to his having insurance through the director’s guild as well. He pulled the agents into it and within a couple of days it was resolved. However, the insurance company refused to reinstate me. Basically I did two jobs in ’09 and neither company paid into my health fund. I had, but they had not. While I had done nothing wrong, my insurance was gone. They said they’d reinstate it next quarter. Gee. Thanks for that. I get more and more conspiratorial as I get older and I wonder if the cost of having an autistic child has anything to do with their snail like speed. But truth is, I don’t think it does. I do, however, think they look for any excuse to bone you. I hate them all by the way.

Okay. So, Drive Angry didn’t do so well at the box office, but we’d survive it. Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.

Through all of this Dean had been working his little butt off. He was on Running Wilde but also wrote a book, created a feature pitch and a TV pilot pitch. As for his feature pitch to the junior Suit, the one who loved our original horror idea until the Monday after Drive Angry came out, yeah, Dean still hasn’t heard back from him.

On the 4th we finished a polish on our rewrite for De Laurentiis Raffaella.

On the 8th I told Patrick I was thinking about speccing the Wanting, a pitch we created based on a ghost story that happened to Melanie when she was a kid. The backstory, which is likely already journaled but will hereby be refreshed, goes like this: Mel and I were spending the night at Patrick’s. She told the story of what happened to her when she was young. It’s a terrifying story told during the day. It’s pure panic told at night. So Patrick and I agreed that we’d write it as a spec. I started the first pass.

On the 10th I gave some quotes to the fella writing the Kane Hodder Biography.

We also sent our TV show outline to DeLuca.

And John Carpenter joined Twitter. I sent Brian Collins a text, “Is that really him?!” He texted back, “Ryan (Turek) says it is!” We had us a bit of fanboy geekout and I even sent a fanboy tweet, which I rarely do. And then I get a reply. Whoa. Turned out, he hadn’t just joined. His wife, Sandy, later informed me that they’d joined sometime back but due to the fact that all variations of his name had been scooped up by fans, it had taken some time for people to find him.

On the 11th I grabed a train down to San Diego to bang out the last draft of Devil’s Commandos with young master, Timothy Bradstreet. Together we figured out one last tweak to make to Devil’s. I’d take the following week to address.

I also gave Tim a screenplay to read because I thought it might make an excellent novel for him to illustrate. He agreed and we sent it to a publisher buddy of his.

And before I jumped a train back home, Tim grabbed his camera and took a guhzillion pics of me. Headshots. There has been talk of my perhaps doing a role every now and then. We’ll see. I hear it pays better than writing.

On the 14th our Mandate meeting to pitch our original horror got pushed again. I asked Patrick if we could just spec it after the Wanting. He agreed.

Morgan Creek stayed after us about a project we are developing for them. We had most of it worked out, just needed to get it down on paper. Patrick started the outline while I addressed a type-o polish of our De Laurentiis rewrite.

On the 28th Bradstreet and I got an email from his publisher buddy:

I read the script in full last night. I don’t say the following lightly: this is one of the best pieces of eerie action writing I’ve come across in quite some time. I absolutely love [secret title].

We three discuss the next step.

Patrick had met with Valhalla shortly after Drive Angry came out. They loved our little movie and wanted to talk to Patrick about doing a project together. We had developed a story and it was nearly finished. A pitch meeting was set for April.

During one of those odd daydream moments on twitter I followed link after link until I was staring at a piece of artwork. I liked it. Drawn by a fella named Kevin Spencer. So I sent one of those very simple, “Dig your art” notes.

Later he sent me this. :)

So, let’s take a moment to talk 3D because I’m annoyed and I’ve yet to openly voice it.

3D has been around for decades. Not great 3D but 3D all the same. Around the time of MBV, the technology of 3D had improved vastly so it was decided that MBV would be in 3D. Journey to the Center of the Earth preceded MBV and while it was 3D, it had a bunch of CGI elements. MBV would be the first live-action 3D. And we were a big hit. I’d like to say it wasn’t JUST the 3D that made it a hit. I’d like to think the whodoneit storyline played a part. The acting, the crew… but Hollywood in general seemed to chalk up our success to “gimmick”.

We had 900 3D screens because that’s all that existed at the time. The week after our opening 1000 more 3D screens were ordered. We were gone in three weeks due to the fact that Coraline needed our 900 screens.

Soon after every studio was greenlighting 3D projects. Lions Gate made a fortune. Everyone assumed we’d be doing MBV 2. But LGF wanted to move out of the genre and sequel biz (so we were told). So, while 3D movies were going into production left and right, Patrick and I were unemployed.

So, we wrote Drive Angry.

Meanwhile Avatar came out and many would say it created the 3D revolution. But if we’re honest, the revolution had already began. BUT, Avatar certainly made it official. And the demand for 3D was greater than EVER.

Unfortunately supply could not keep up with demand. There simply were not enough 3D crews to house the sudden demand for 3D movies. So conversion entered the world. 3D conversion is a viable way to make a 3D movie… IF and we’re talking a mighty big IF you have the time and money. Sadly many movies started coming out that did not have the time and money to convert properly and thus the 3D looked like crap.

Audience members were paying the big price difference and some were feeling a bit cheated. Clash of the Titans was the first notable offender. Piranha 3D comes to mind. While fun and massively offensive, the 3D was dismal. It was sort of the beginning of the end because P3D’s box office did not show the success of previous 3D films. The audience was catching on.

Then came Deathly Hallows part 1. They announced that they would release in 3D and started the conversion process. Then they screened Drive Angry 3D and realized they did not have enough time to match the quality of a movie shot in 3D. So they made one of the ballsiest moves I have ever seen in Hollywood. They revoked the 3D from part 1. They did a point and click and turned it off. They released in 2D only.

Skip to Feb 2011. Drive Angry Shot in 3D. “Shot in 3D” was an attempt to let moviegoers know that, yes, we were aware conversion wasn’t the best quality, but we had been SHOT in 3D. But here’s the thing, while that may have meant something to bloggers and the kids who go see a midnight show at LA’s New Beverly… Joe Moviegoer could care less. To the normal American moviegoer, 3D was 3D and MOST of what they’d seen in the theater over the last year, sucked. So they rebelled.

So, is 3D on its way out? Hard to say. Likely no. Not completely.

But the almighty power of Hollywood greed has once again screwed both the filmmaker and the moviegoer. Rather than do the best 3D possible, they, for the most part, cashed in. Milked the cow dry then left the carcass to rot. Not the first time.

Observe the pattern in the world of horror. Scream was huge. Suddenly every studio in town started mimicking the self-aware nature of the Scream storyline. Heck, even Freddy Vs. Jason which had no business whatsoever being self-aware was rewritten to be self-aware (and later tossed out thank goodness). Soon the Hollywood machine was churning out self-aware horror without really understanding what that was. And movies started to tank.

Then came the Ring. Big hit. Suddenly everyone was doing Asian horror. Until the movies weren’t so good and started to tank.

Because the audience will always catch on. But until they do, rest assured fat cats are gonna get fatter.

Then came Saw and the world of torture porn. That lasted until they got bad and started tanking.

By the way, you can make the same observations with other genres, just happens that I work in horror.

Eventually came 3D. With 3D, however, this was industry wide. It impacted every genre. MBV proved that the roller coaster gimmick worked. Avatar proved the immersive gimmick worked. Let’s not pretend that both weren’t gimmicks. But gimmicks in the same way that color and talkies were gimmicks.

Just Wednesday Patrick and I sat in a conference room and the head of the studio asked, “Would you shoot this in 3D?” We said, you could, but you don’t have too. The project in question does’t fit within the MBV gimmick. Nor does it really fit within the immersion gimmick. I noted that you could create a voyeuristic atmosphere with 3D. And that would likely work if push came to shove but here’s the thing. I don’t think every movie should be 3D. In the same way I don’t think every ride at the amusement park should be a roller coaster. I LOVE roller coasters. But I also love the ferris wheel. And the parachute drop. But leave it to Hollywood to try to turn every stupid ride in the park into a roller coaster.

I guess the thing I find the most annoying is that we did MBV in 3D because we thought it would be fun. We put story and characters first but we did the 3D because we thought it would be FUN. We went into Drive Angry with the same intention. We weren’t doing it in 3D to cash in on the fad. We thought fast cars and guns and action in 3D would be fun. We still put story and characters first but we did the 3D for the FUN. And we succeeded. It was fun. And few saw it.

And my rambling closes out March of 2011.

Happy Birthday You silly, bigfoot named website. I started you to remind me when I’m old and rich what the journey had been like. I’m old. I’m still waiting on the rich part. But that’s okay, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.

In a couple days I guess I’ll close out April and we’ll call it a successful catch up.

1 reply on “March Recovery”

I want to hear Mel’s ghost story.
P.S. I am convinced that most people do not understand/appreciate 3D. Pity.

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