Simon Barrett

Simon Barrett is a working Screenwriter. I could run through his filmography but I will not. You know how to Google. But I will say FRANKENFISH.

We’ve known each other for a few years. Used to meet at the MythHacks dinners. Basically the poor man’s writer version of the Masters of Horror. We’re not close. We’ve never worked together. Never shared warm showers or chocolate bars. He’s a smart ass and likely the hardest working screenwriter I know. If he isn’t writing he’s shooting. If he isn’t shooting he’s watching movies.

And tonight he’s Occupying Los Angeles.

I sort of glanced at Walking Dead tonight but what I really did was watch Simon Occupy. Following are the events via Twitter. Unlike Twitter, read top to bottom and ignore timestamps as I was grabbing screenshots sometimes out of order.

And remember, if you make less than 400 thousand dollars a year, then @simon_barrett is standing on a wall tonight. For you. Whether you are smart enough to understand why or not.

I still don’t understand why so many conservatives think the occupy movement is bad. I say this as a fella who’s conservative much of the time. I voted for Bush. Twice. I pay my taxes. That’s because I don’t make enough to hide my profits offshore. In fact, I pay more in taxes than alot of people make all year. Well… depending on how crappy the year is and these days… yeesh. But the point is…

Biggest trick filthy rich white people ever pulled was convincing broke people to starve and die for them.

My father-in-law had cancer. He was given the wrong dosage of chemo. He died. Three months after Izzie Rain was born. The bank foreclosed on their house. My mother-in-law came to live with us. In our two bedroom apartment. The bank that foreclosed showed a profit of over 800 million, paid no taxes and received billions in bailout money. That same year I paid 42 thousand in taxes.

I’ve known this was coming. If you’ve spent any time reading History then you HAD to know it was coming. In our lifetime? Why not? Life moves pretty fast as Ferris would say.

Dog of Light.

Figures. I was hoping for an exciting 3rd act involving Barrett saving 99.5 percent of the world’s population with a half burnt candle, a half eaten donut and a light chasing dog… wait. This just in.

It’s barking up 4am. Barrett’s gone quiet. He’s likely saving his battery, or he’s asleep. Could be dead. Could be banging a hippie. It’s hard to know.

It’s 4:20am. Poured another long island. Yeah. I like to drink alone. Read the pages I wrote today. LOVE them. Which means they’ll never sell. Or will be force rewritten by jackoffs who don’t have a clue what they’re saying.

Too tired to look at porn. Again. Twitter’s gone silent.

4:31am. I’m fading. I’m old. I feel… thin. Sort of stretched, like… bread scraped over too much butter. I need a holiday. A very long holiday. And I don’t expect I shall return. Until like 10am.

4:45am. I have to pee.

I’m peeing. And I’m sitting down. Because I’ve come to the conclusion that as we near 5am of an allnighter we should all pee in the Queen’s proper. Meanwhile Amazon is telling me that The Devil’s Double blu is on sale. No thank you Lions Gate. I’d rather buy My Bloody Valentine part II on blu. Buttholes.

11 minutes until possible 5am eviction.

You should get your money out of the bigger banks. Look at local credit unions. Big banks don’t care about your community. Remember, it’s your money. Your community.

Yes, today’s cyber Monday. You know, you don’t HAVE to buy anything. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it.

No tweet from Barrett. Assuming he doesn’t know or is snoozing where he was. I’d guess if he knew he’d be on the front lines as the idea of getting baton’d by a cop would somehow intrigue him.


I hope you slept safe this fine eve. And I hope you know why. It’s because Simon Barrett stood on a wall and said, “Nothing’s going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch.”

And nothing did.


Peter Vincent

An email to our agents sent on January 30 of 2009:

“We’re nearly finished outlining FRIGHT NIGHT for Monday. Also DON’T DRIVE ANGRY, a pitch tailored for Paseornek if MBVII moves forward.”

As I mentioned in the last entry, a Hollywood filmmaker normally has to NOT get a dozen jobs to get one. FRIGHT NIGHT would be one of the dozen that Patrick Lussier and I would not get. I’m not saying what we would have done would have been be better than what will hit the theaters on Friday. I’m just saying this is what might have been.

In January of 09 Patrick and I were contacted by Roy Lee and Sonny Mallhi about a FRIGHT NIGHT remake. OR as a disgustingly high number of kids today will tell you… DISTURBIA with Vampires. Clint Culpepper at Screen Gems controlled the FRIGHT NIGHT rights.

To set the stage, MBV 3D had been released mid-January. We were getting some hype. Izzie was small. And cute. But not as cute as the Macbook Air and the rolled up pee pee diaper behind us.

So Patrick and I put together our take for FRIGHT NIGHT the remake. We’d do the same thing we did with MBV. Update it while keeping classic elements. Make it scary and make sure the characters were smart. Especially the villain. For instance, you don’t order a pizza then kill the deliver boy. Same as you don’t order a hot hooker then kill her in your upstairs bedroom. Be smarter, Jerry. Our remake rule simply followed what Carpenter did with THE THING and Cronenberg did with THE FLY. Update it while keeping classic elements.

Therefore in our version Roddy McDowell WAS Peter Vincent. But Vincent had died of old age after a long distinguished career as the star of over a hundred Hammer Films. Roddy’s face would be prevalent throughout the film. A handful of Peter Vincent’s movies had been remade by Jamie Lee Curtis and Tom Atkins. Her seductress Vampire Hunter and his no-nonsense detective sidekick. But even they were flirting with the end of their careers as their last remake, Fright Night 4D: Smell the Blood, didn’t do so well at the box office. Like many horror icons, they end up working the convention circuit.

We pitched Roy and Sonny. They loved it.

Next we pitched Nick Phillips at Screen Gems. He loved it.

Finally we returned to pitch Clint Culpepper.

Not two minutes into the pitch he stopped us. He said he knew everyone in the room got it, but he didn’t get it and there was no reason to waste his or our time. Patrick and I sat quietly while some of the others attempted to make a case but ten minutes later we were out of there. There was talk that Roy might try to get the rights and go to LGF, but that was the last we heard of FRIGHT NIGHT. Until…


Three months later. MBV 3D had pulled in over 100 million world wide and this was on less than a 1000 domestic screens. A fraction of the screen available today. But Lions Gate had informed us that there would be no MBV 3D sequel. We heard a dozen reasons but in the end it likely came down to politics. Still, we’d made a successful movie. Yet we were finding that overall MBV’s success was considered a fluke. That 3D was considered a fluke. That’s what we were told. Of course, every studio and their grandmother with a digital RED were planning 3D flicks so whatevs.

Therefore we wrote DRIVE ANGRY. The agents loved it and we gave it a half day polish to tweak one of the characters then it was sent to producers. We met with several but the day we met with Michael De Luca we knew within 5 minutes that he was the guy. Once Mike was with us the train took off. Mike brought us Cage and that actually led to his suggesting we come up with a take for GHOST RIDER 2. We started brainstorming GHOST RIDER between DRIVE ANGRY meetings. Later while in the Millennium Films lobby awaiting a DRIVE ANGRY meeting we mentioned to Mike our FRIGHT NIGHT pitch to Clint. Mike laughed and said, you know, I just got the rights and set it up at Dreamworks.

Next thing we knew we were dusting off the old file and practicing our pitch again. A meeting was set for May 21st of ’09 with Mark Sourian & Kira Goldberg of Dreamworks. At the same time Mike scheduled a general meeting with Avi Arad for the following week to discuss GHOST RIDER 2 (but that continuing story will get its own entry).

So we pitched Sourian. I found it an interesting dynamic because Sourian held the position De Luca held when he worked for Dreamworks. It was an odd meeting to say the least. Sourian had many questions. There was much talk of PG-13. And “family friendly”. It wasn’t that he didn’t like our take but wasn’t sure they wanted to do a true horror at Dreamworks. We were also told that it would likely come down to us and Tim Kring (HEROES), that Kring and Spielberg had met at a screening recently and discussed FRIGHT NIGHT and they were waiting on Kring’s take.

To be honest we walked out with the feeling that our rated R take just wasn’t the direction they wanted to go. But, we waited. And waited. Our world got caught up with GHOST RIDER 2 and DRIVE ANGRY, as well as half a dozen other active developments. Eventually we heard that Kring never pitched. We heard more and more talk of “family friendly” then it just sort of went away. During the DA shoot we would hear bits about it from De Luca. They were back to rated R. That was good. We would hear about hirings. Who was directing. And so forth. And while it would have been a fun gig, this is how it happens in Hollywood.

Again, I’m not saying our version is better. For one reason, I have not seen Friday’s FRIGHT NIGHT. But that’s not the point. What’s better is subjective. I dug what we came up with but this is simply a what-might-have-been story. And even if we had have bagged the job there’s no guarantee our story would have ever made it to the screen. Most journeys go through dozens upon dozens of rewrites and some go through that many writers. No hard feelings. This is the career we signed up for. And come Friday, I’ll be at the theaters, where I’ll likely take in both FRIGHT NIGHT and CONAN.

So, without more banter, click on the link to read our take of FRIGHT NIGHT if you so desire. But do remember, this was never intended to be “read”. This was our pitch guide. We verbally pitched this half a dozen times and this document was how we learned the story and the pitch. It’s likely got type-os and fill-in-the-blank bits of logic. But we’re never gonna see a dime from it so I ain’t gonna be making no free polishes. :)

This isn’t a Science, it’s the movie biz. Enjoy. :)



Fichtner FTW!

Bill just sent me this link. When he won the MC asked him if he was going to drink beer from a skull to celebrate.

This was Saturday night and he’s clearly still giddy from the rush!


Knights of Badassdom

I hate spoilers. I HATE that Uber-Jason was on the frakking poster. I HATE that you knew from the trailer that Milton was from hell. As far as I’m concerned marketing spoilers are of the devil. Website spoilers are of the devil’s sister. Twitter spoilers are of the devil’s momma. Basically, spoilers = Satan.

For instance, I still haven’t seen a Captain America trailer. Why would I? That movie is trailer and review proof. I was already gonna see it. I watched the Potter trailers once but I didn’t have too. Only reason I was willing was that, you know… I’d read the books.

But sometimes, I need to see the trailer to decide. But even when I do, I only need to see it once. And after that, I avoid like the plague.

Except this time. Knights of Badassdom.


Of Freaking Badassdom.

I was gonna see this one regardless. Therefore had ZERO plans of watching the trailer. But I could not help myself. Not only did I fail to stay away…

I’ve watched the above trailer 20 times.

I don’t remember how old I was when I discovered Dungeons & Dragons but it truly did change my life. But not in the way most would assume. For me, it was a creativity epiphany. Or orgasm, depending on your religion.

Brad Weaver and I were riding our bikes and saw four high school guys sitting around a picnik table in a back yard. We stopped and watched them playing something the likes we’d never seen. Dungeons & Dragons. We watched for hours.

To this day very little compares to that… pure feeling of discovery.

We rode our bikes to Wal-Mart that afternoon and bought the game. We came back to my house and played it totally wrong.

Yes. I know I spelled his name wrong. No emails please. Over the years we’d played off and on. We didn’t live for it. We had sports and girlfriends and the pursuit of sex.

Wow. A sudden wash of memory. Footballs games. The smell of freshly cut grass. That sound when we first took the field. The glow of the lights. The calm before the storm. The field of battle. Then to the locker room. That scramble to shower and dress and find your girl. Hand holding and kisses and heavy petting. Drop her off. Then off to whoever was hosting the night. Dungeons and Dragons til dawn. Geeks and Jocks and even a psycho or two. We rolled twenty sided dice as Ferris Bueller sang Ten Years Afters’ I’d Love to Change the World.

I love how some these days claim they are geeks. Pfft. Lightweights. They claim it cuz it’s in. But the real geeks are so embarrassingly geeky that their actions make self-proclaimed geeks cringe.

One of my favorite characters was named and designed after the cover of the Electric Light Orchestra’s album, Discovery.

So don’t go bringing your weak-arse “I’mma geek” preaching around me. Because talk is cheap. If you can’t walk the walk then I’m calling you out. I’ll drop you too. This is one geek who can buckle your forehead with a punch. You are WAY freaking cooler than me so don’t even try it. I will spoog my geeky funk all over your boobs.

It was 9:29, 9:29 back street big city. The sun was going down, there was music all around, it felt so right. It was one of those nights, one of those nights
When you feel the world stop turnin’. You were standing there, there was music in the air. I should have been away, but I knew I’d have to stay. Last train to London, just headin’ out. Last train to London, just leavin’ town. But I really want tonight to last forever, I really wanna be with you. Let the music play on down the line tonight.

As much as I loved playing, I ended up being Dungeon Master most of the time. I bought all the assorted modules. Some better than others. But even with the good ones, my imagination would wander. I’d spin the adventures. Break the rules. I would reward based on ingenuity. I would punish based on lack of vision or laziness. Here’s a little secret. Don’t tell nobody. Sometimes I’d roll the dice and never look at the number. I’d do what I wanted to do. Because Dungeon Master was… god.

Except for Tomb of Horrors. By far the best mod ever made. And one of the scariest. Oh Gary, how I still adore you.

So what’s the point of all this. Simple. Watch the trailer. Knights of Badassdom. Just look at the cast! We’re talking +11 to Charisma. You love Community? Then you got reason to go. True Blood fan? You got no choice. Serenity make you hard? Then you can’t help but be in. It has the only actor on the planet who did a perfect Bobby Duvall. Does Game of Thrones fill your void… then so shall this. Stop reading this and watch the trailer. Then talk about it. Twitter it. FB it. Even if you hate it. Granted you’ll look stupid for hating it but all buzz is good buzz.

We need more movies made by passion and less movies made by committee. The first step in making that a reality is you.

Now go forth. And level up.


Cowboys and Aliens

Here’s the thing most people don’t know… to get one job as a writer, you have to NOT GET dozens of others. And many of those not gotten gigs are movies that eventually get made. Some turn out great. Far better than I would have done. Some turn out dismal. But that’s how she works out here.

Many know the story of Halloween 3D. We got the gig. Wrote the screenplay. Project was put on hold until after Drive Angry and only just now are we finally restarting the engines. But during that downtime, I never shared the screenplay. And that’s because… we sold it. It was no longer ours to share.

BUT…of those dozens of gigs you don’t get… you do all this work. You break the story. Many times you write an outline. Then there are rounds and rounds of notes. Rewrites. And more rewrites. All this work for free and most of the time you don’t get the job. Some examples. The Fly. Ghost Rider 2. Fright Night. I could go on on on. But the point is… I can actually share those outlines and screenplays because no one ever bought them. They are still creator owned. And since the movies are being made or have been made then that means the scripts and outlines are deader than dead. They’ll never get made so why not share?

So first, let’s talk about COWBOYS AND ALIENS.

We must jump into the TARDIS to do this proper. I don’t recall the date we actually started discussing but it was well before Jason X.

This was even before the EverQuest addiction. The oldest script I have on hand (which doesn’t mean the oldest written) was dated Nov 5, 1998 and it was titled WESTERN FRONT.

I co-wrote it was my friend Mark Haslett who was Sean Cunningham’s VP of production. I was Sean’s staff writer chained to a desk in the maid’s room. For Sean I mostly wrote anything that wasn’t horror. This was back when nearly all studios, producers and movie entities were too snooty for horror. SCREAM had opened at 6.2 million. A flop. The first flop to reverse due to word of mouth. When it hit 100 million studios took notice but it still took a little time for all of them to start screwing the corpse.

During this time Mark and I would dream of all the marvelous things we would do when we “made it.” We would brainstorm story after story. One such story we came up with was a western. What if gold miners in and old west town, constantly at war with local Indians, dug up a buried space ship? And that’s how WESTERN FRONT started.

We pitched Sean. He said you couldn’t mix genres. Sean had a lot of rules. He had no interest but Mark and I thought it could be huge.

I had a contract with Sean, several over the years. My deal was that Sean would pay me a thousand bucks every two weeks. IF we got a movie made then I would get a bonus minus the money (plus interest) Sean had paid me. While my deal was for a thousand every two weeks, what he paid me was two thousand a month. Clever. On his part. Do the math. Eventually I got paid the difference but it wasn’t until we were negotiating year 2’s contact. My contract stated that Sean owned everything I wrote. Except limericks. So during year 2 negotiations I told Sean that Mark and I were going to write Western Front and we wanted to own it. He thought it a waste of time so he agreed.

(I interrupt this post to brag about the fact that Bill Fichtner just called me.)

Mark and I got to work. We wrote it in my apartment in Korea Town. Our goal was big budget, action, fun. A gold mining town constantly on the verge of attack from the local Indians. A band of bank robbers enter town. Miners uncover and enter a buried space ship. We finished and we really did love it.

Sean read it and really didn’t like it. Noel didn’t like it either. But that was fine. Mark and I still believed in it.

Until we got kicked in the face. A week later Steve Odekirk sold a pitch for COWBOYS AND ALIENS to Dreamworks for 1.5 million. The title said it all but it was the same premise. Shortly after and likely due to the buzz, a long forgotten Fox script called GHOSTRIDERS IN THE SKY made a resurgence. Meanwhile, Mark and I, utterly unknown jokers with no agent or real contacts felt… well sad. Very very sad.

It was over.

But not for Mark. He simply wouldn’t give up. Somehow, I forget how long after, but Mark ended up having drinks with Greg Noveck at Platinum Studios (not to be confused with Platinum Dunes). In the middle of their second Martini, Noveck told Mark they were having script troubles with COWBOYS AND ALIENS and Mark said, “Well, here’s ours” and handed him WESTERN FRONT.

They read it immediately. Which rarely happens. But more importantly they loved it. Which freaked the higher ups because Noveck shouldn’t have read our script without paperwork protecting them. So we went in and met with them and happily signed the paper stating that if they had the exact same ideas that it was okay and we couldn’t sue them. The funny thing was, they didn’t really have notes. A few type-os. And they went on and on about how we’d solved problems they had been struggling with draft after draft.

We would polish it then the script would be sent to William Morris, Universal and Dreamworks as they were all attached. When Mark handed in our little type-o polish to Scott Mitchell Rosenberg (his whole company was based on comic book properties from Europe and he had owned the comic for “Men In Black”), he asked if we had an agent. Mark said, “No but we want Rob Carlson.” Rosenberg replied, “Great! He’s our agent too so that shouldn’t be a problem.”

For a few days, Mark and I were soaring. It was euphoric. The guys at Platinum were pretty stoked too. Our script did what they had been trying to do. We felt like heroes. As though the next step was simply a matter of letting everyone else in on the celebration. How crazy. This was it. We’d worked hard and not only were we getting our foot in the door but we were about to play ball with the big boys.

A couple days later I was telling the story to a Dean Lorey and he stopped me and said, “You know, Rob Carlson is also Odekirk’s agent.” That gave me a bit of pause. It would be tough for Carlson to back us over his 1.5 million dollar writer.

Next we heard that Universal had passed. No reason given.

Then we heard that Dreamworks had passed. No reason given.

And like that it was over.

Much later a sympathetic suit told us that in retrospect, we likely never had a chance. From the start Spielberg’s mandate had been to do ALIENS in the west. Our aliens were humanoid therefore the higher ups deemed our script unworkable.

When I look back, this one hurt. This was back at at time when studios still paid 1.5 million for a pitch. Universal, Dreamworks, Spielberg, William Morris… this was a career maker. We did it right. Our instincts were right. Mark even brought it back from the dead and had us sitting with the producers who owned the rights, who had been struggling with the script, who believed we had the best story. But then it just all went away.

But everything happens for a reason I suppose. So, I put Jason in Space.

In the tiniest of ways we are part of the COWBOYS AND ALIENS story. Although we’ll never be discussed on the DVD, or discussed at Comicons or listed on Wiki. Therefore, I attach the script. Written 13 years ago.

Just click the link and enjoy the read.

Without further ado, WesternFront.