Again, like before, if you haven’t already, PLEASE PLEDGE! Seriously, this project does not happen without you! And after how long it’s taken to get to the this point, don’t let it conclude here.
(**UPDATE: Obviously the Kickstarter campaign is long over, so ignore these requests.)
Now… where were we?
…Continued from PART ONE.
HOLLYWOOD VIRGIN: MY FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH THE INDUSTRY.
Zide/Perry told me they wanted to send it to seven places that would be up for doing this kind of “outside of the box” material. They sent it out, and of the seven, five of the places loved it and wanted to meet with me. Looking back now, I had no clue how huge this was. That’s such a high percentage of success for an untested screenwriter with nothing under his belt. But I was pumped. I went out, bought a bunch of new fancy “meeting clothes” and set out for my meetings. The fact that I felt I needed to look my “church going best” seems so hilarious now.
My first business meeting ever in this industry was with a nice guy named Jim Wedaa. He was located on the Disney lot, which is why to this day I have an affinity for that lot. My first meeting ever was there. Aww… nostalgia. Anyway, so I walked in dressed to the nines (just short of a full suit), and his first comment was about how nice I was dressed. This was my first clue, followed my maaaany others, that informed me to the fact that I was WAY novice at this. No one dresses up like this. Ugh. I was a glaring, well-dressed beacon that practically had “n00b” blinking on his chest. Anyway, we talked about the project, he told me how much he liked it, but then it ended with a “but I’m not sure if we’d ever actually do this.” He wanted to know what else I had. This being my first meeting, I didn’t quite know how this all worked. Why would you meet with me if you didn’t want this project?
My next few meetings went similar. All great companies, great execs, mostly on awe-inspiring studio lots (I still hold awe for those lots, even though they have definitely lost a little of their luster to me in the last decade). But they all ended the same way. Love the script. Love the project. Love the writing. But too risky to bring into the studio. What else do you have? This was my first experience with the fear that runs this town. It’s an odd negative energy where people make most of their decisions based more on fear and risk than anything else. Fear holds sway. I’ll end up learning a LOT more of that down the road.
Finally, my last meeting was with a company called A Band Apart. I was really excited for this meeting because as a film geek, I worshipped Quentin Tarantino, and this was his company along with Lawrence Bender. While I didn’t get to meet Quentin, I did find out a different bit of interesting news. While I was expecting another “we love it, but can’t do it” conversation, they informed me that wanted to take it into Dimension Films and see if we can get this made. Wha?? Sure enough, they brought it in, Dimension loved it, and wanted to meet with me. Double Wha?? This was awesome! Top of the world!
BEWARE: THE WAY UP IS SOMETIMES FOLLOWED BY A STEEP DROP.
My first studio meeting. Holy cow, I was both terrified and elated. It was in the old Miramax building on Sunset. Such a cool place. I went up, walking by all the amazing posters of horror movies they had done, and really had a great feeling about the whole thing. I met with my exec, everything seemed fantastic… and then, this is where things started to get a little weird. *I should also note that this is an area where I can’t really discuss specific names, and specific scenarios, but just know it got nutty.
Long story short, my project was well liked, but ultimately died over there. Odd things went down, confusion arose, and well, let’s just say that it all ended with an abrupt firing of the exact exec I met with, that could have championed the script. Myself nor Run Like Hell had nothing to do with anything. It was just a fluke that this scandal had to do with the same exec. I only heard about bits and pieces second hand. Long story short, when he/she was (literally) escorted out of the building, sadly, my project was collateral damage. There was no second chance.
Now what? What do I do now? Well, this is when I entered the confusing area. I started working with a few guys over at Zide/Perry on another project. I was told to “move on” from Run Like Hell because everyone just wanted to see the next, next, NEXT! No one lingers. Onward! So, that’s exactly what I did. I moved on. I decided to write a ton more projects, and establish myself more as a well-rounded screenwriter. It was soon after that another of my projects won a big screenwriting award, and that became my focus. Run Like Hell was forgotten. And even though it was the project that garnered a ton of praise and helped me start my career, it now gathered dust while I moved on. To this day, only those initial 7 people (and 1 studio) have ever seen that original screenplay for Run Like Hell. Weird, but true.
A SECOND LIFE: A GRAPHIC NOVEL?
Many years later, I had established myself as a horror screenwriter around town. One thing that seemed to be my niche at the time was adapting horror comics or graphic novels into screenplays. I had worked developing a lot of them into projects, and people were always giving me graphic novels to read and see if I’d want to adapt it. At the time, I was working on a project with a producer, and damn good guy, by the name of Scott Nemes. The discussion of graphic novels came up in conversation, as they were prone to do at that time, and for the first time in a VERY long time, Run Like Hell magically popped into my head again.
An idea. A spark.
I had been working adapting graphic novels into screenplays for so long, and this seemed to be working, so why the hell wouldn’t I do it the other way around? Why wouldn’t I take a screenplay of mine and turn it into a graphic novel? When I told Scott this idea, he introduced me to a damn good chap by the name of Jason Burns, who worked for Viper Comics at the time. I clicked with Jason right away, and we looked to be on the same page with our twisted sensibilities. I was going to write my first graphic novel. Yes!
As Jason and I started working on making this a reality, things popped with another extremely high profile project of mine. It was a graphic novel adaptation called FRAGILE that had just hit the front page of Variety. Here’s an ancient blast from the past for you: http://variety.com/2007/film/news/zombie-story-for-rodriguez-1117973287 While that project is sadly mostly dead now, and most of the people involved are not even involved anymore (welcome to Hollywood), if you look on that link, you’ll notice a mention at the end about Run Like Hell. This article was dated 2007. Now hopefully, you’re starting to see just how long this damn project has taken to see the light of day.
Once again, things for Run Like Hell looked on the up and up. This much loved, but hardly seen, screenplay of mine was finally going to see the light of day. The comic industry wasn’t nearly as cutthroat and insane as the film industry, right? It should all go down slick as snot, right?
Oh boy, how I wish that were true. Like the film history before it, the comic history of Run Like Hell was about to go down its own bumpy road of insanity. Buckle up.
TO BE CONCLUDED… with PART THREE.