Category Archives: Independent Film Production

Independent film production company Brothers’ Ink Productions experiences and stories from the making of Reveille, Locker 13 and the writing of numerous screenplays and scripts.

Independent Film Prospectus – Crossing Walter – Comedy

 

For several years I’ve been asked how we go about funding our movies independently, and so a discussion usually follows regarding all that goes into development and pre-production of a film. Now, there’s a lot involved, and I have at times tried to breakdown the process for people and all of the work that goes into it. As a way to clarify further, I will be adding “no-frills” versions of documents we’ve developed over time to present to investors, production companies, and/or producers that helped us along the way. Several of these documents we’ve polished and updated, but for educational purposes for those interested in independent film production, I can share paired down samples of what we use for certain documents.

My next sample is a very basic, Movie Prospectus.

It’s for a movie that we are still very excited about, but have put on the back burner for now, so I don’t mind sharing this as an example. I hope you find this to be helpful:prospectus-title-page

Business and Product

     Company’s Business

Crossing Walter, LLC (herein also referred to as “CW, LLC” or “The Company”) is an Arizona-based company formed for the purpose of developing and producing a full-length feature film currently titled “Crossing Walter” (herein also referred to as “The Film”), a family comedy.  Brothers’ Ink Productions serves as the Member-Manager of The Company.

     Overview

We are seeking film production financing in the amount of $3,250,000 (three million two hundred fifty thousand US dollars) that includes the cost of pre-production, principal photography, and post-production for a theatrical and/or DVD release for the film.

$25,000 per Membership Interest, an aggregate of 130 Interests available for a total of $3,250,000 (three million two hundred fifty thousand US dollars) for the production. (PPM available upon request.)

This package has a high success potential due to the following reasons:

  • Recognizable TV actors, which makes the film more marketable, commercial and more attractive to a wider audience.
  • The Comedy genre is extremely attractive in the indie feature industry and sells well to foreign markets.
  • Brothers’ Ink is well established in the Phoenix Film market and will utilize their influence and reputation to recruit cast and crew for all stages of the production. This will create a buzz throughout the region and a sense of community for the film. The filmmakers and actors will in essence, market the film to all of their families and friends, building up an audience for the release of the film in the Phoenix market.
  • Brothers’ Ink has secured a letter of intent (LOI) for distribution…(Request to view LOI)

     The Product – Crossing Walter

Crossing Walter, LLC owns the option on the original screenplay, written by John Waldron, who is also on board as Executive Producer.

     Feature Film Logline

An average family man accidentally mistaken for a human trafficker gets deported the weekend of his daughter’s wedding.  With no money or possessions, he struggles to cross the border and make it back home in time to walk his daughter down the aisle.

     Synopsis

“Crossing Walter” is a film about Walter Wheeler, a compulsive tax accountant and over protective family man. His world is turned upside down when his daughter comes home for the weekend to announce that she is quitting college and getting married on Sunday.

At the advice of his hapless brother-in-law, Walter innocently picks up a few day laborers and gets mistaken as a human trafficker (coyote) and deported to Mexico. With no money or possessions, he struggles to cross the border and make it back home in time for the wedding.

Through the adventure, Walter finds a renewed strength with the love of his family and learns to let his children live their own lives.  “Crossing Walter” explores the themes of love, endurance, respect and commitment and that nothing is more important than family.

     Audience

  • Families
  • Couples

     Genre

  • Comedy
  • Family

     Comparative

  • Sideways
  • Little Miss Sunshine
  • Stranger Than Fiction
  • Garden State

     Business Strategy

 Brothers’ Ink, LLC’s business strategy is not predicated on luck. Given our knowledge of the film industry and the track record of our team, we are aware of the challenges and risks involved in moviemaking. We also know how to apply our professional experience in business affairs, creative affairs, development, production, and marketing to manage the inherent risks. We have a talented management team with business ownership backgrounds, film industry backgrounds, negotiating acumen, and storytelling abilities.

The film will be produced independently of a major motion picture studio. That is, it will be created and financed outside the major studios. However, Brothers’ Ink, LLC will seek leading distributors (including the distribution divisions of major studios) in the United States and abroad in order to obtain the widest possible distribution of the film and to maximize revenues.

The production cost of an average Hollywood film produced by a major studio continues to rise and now stands at over $60MM according to industry estimates. Each of the major studios has established units to produce pictures at lower budgets.

According to recent research from the Motion Picture Association of America, the average production costs for these subsidiaries and affiliated studios (companies such as Sony Pictures Classics, Fox Searchlight, New Line, and Miramax) is still high at $34MM. As a result, Hollywood has a strong incentive to work with independent producers who can deliver quality motion pictures that have wide audience appeal.

Brothers’ Ink, LLC plans to create a financially successful film without the burden of significant overhead charges, which in the case of major studios, have little to do with the production of the film. The Company will keep overhead to an absolute minimum and will devote our resources to delivering a quality film to the screen.

Brothers’ Ink, LLC will attempt to earn revenue and generate investor returns from the exploitation of the following film rights in the United States and worldwide:

  • Licensing the rights for theatrical exhibition
  • Foreign Distribution
  • DVD sales and rental
  • Pay-per-view
  • Television broadcasts (cable, free TV)
  • Other ancillary markets (including licensing and merchandising, etc.)

Obtaining an “acquisition deal” is a primary business objective. In this type of distribution arrangement, the independent producer raises production monies from investors, but distributor funds are not used to market and distribute the movie. The distribution agreement is usually entered into after the film is produced (i.e., the film is already “in the can”). This approach to film finance and distribution generally provides the producer and creative team with the most creative control and the investors greater profit participation.

In order to deliver the film on budget, the management of Brothers’ Ink, LLC plans to adhere to the highest standards of cost control and financing reporting. Key reasons for budget overruns on films are the lack of financial controls and the lack of overall project management. We will implement and maintain an accurate budget and related financial reports, a pre-production schedule, a shooting schedule and a post-production schedule. Tight internal procedures, the implementation of accounting policies in accordance with US GAAP, and outside review of financial statements by a CPA-certified auditor will ensure that the Company’s management and investors have an accurate fiscal assessment.

     The Industry

 Though the U.S. motion picture industry continues to be both profitable and financially stable, box office receipts, once the cornerstone of motion picture distribution, continue to become less and less important as emerging technologies both create new distribution methods and make those methods more accessible to independent filmmakers.

  • Filmed Entertainment
    • Strong box office receipts will fuel spending worldwide.
    • DVDs and digital distribution will continue to boost the home video market.

No other country’s film industry creates entertainment that is as well received as U.S. produced movies. In Europe, American films currently capture from 50%-90% of the box office.

The licensing of films for home Video/DVD and television (network and syndicated, pay cable, and basic cable) is now overtaking revenues derived from theatrical release. Nevertheless, the stronger the box office returns, the more money a film property will command in ancillary markets.

While the theatrical market has enjoyed steady growth, the home Video/DVD sector has been even more impressive, with digital distribution continuing a strong and steady growth worldwide.

The video IPOD, IPAD, IPHONE as well as online download and burn services create additional distribution methods for studios and independents alike. This bodes well for independent filmmakers who often find it easier to obtain home video distribution.

With robust industry conditions projected for the next five years the underlying fundamentals are in place to support independent film production and distribution.

     Independent Films

 The market for independently produced films in the U.S. has increased significantly in the last five years. The outstanding box office success of films like My Big Fat Greek Wedding ($368,744,044 Worldwide box office), Little Miss Sunshine ($99,121,298 Worldwide box office), and Napoleon Dynamite ($46,118,097 Worldwide box office) is well known. However, there is a well-established trend of independent films being embraced by ever-broader audience segments.

Above and beyond such record-setting results, there is a larger trend emerging at the box office. Independent films are no longer limited to niche or art house releases. Broad audiences across the country are now embracing independently produced films.

In part, this growth is being fueled by the continued expansion of theatres presenting independent films. “The proliferation of indie screens enables distributors to keep their films in cinemas longer, even if they aren’t breakout hits,” notes the business daily Crain’s New York Business.

     Distribution and Marketing

 When the film is completed, the Management team will explore the most financially optimal arrangement for Brothers’ Ink, LLC and its shareholders. This will include a domestic distribution deal with a major distribution Company, selling off of individual international territories and/or the combination of both. The intent of the management team is to structure a distribution deal that not only pays the Company monies up front but also ensures that the film will get the maximum exposure and marketing support by an established and well-known distributor. To this extent, the management team may accept distribution contracts that initially may not pay the most upfront for the picture but, at the discretion of the management team, presents the most viable opportunity to make revenues long-term.

As an example of the various opportunities that may be presented to the Company, a foreign distribution deal involves an advance against sales in all non-North American territories from a foreign sales Company. This advantage can range anywhere from a few thousand dollars to several million dollars, depending on the perceived value of he film and the structure of the contract. The film sales Company will then sell rights to distribute the film territory-by-territory. The film receives monies over and above the advance after the advance and the foreign sales Company has recouped the distribution expenses. Generally a cap is established in the contract for all expenses of the film incurred by the sales Company. Additional revenues, if any, are split between the foreign sales Company and the producers of the film. The foreign sales Company will take a percentage of revenues from a low 15% to a high 40%, depending on the amount of the initial advance. All these points are negotiable and are dependent on the needs of the individual film.

Domestic distribution deals are similar, except that the distribution rights are sold to one distributor rather thank to multiple distributors in multiple territories. Generally, the domestic distributor will acquire all rights, i.e. theatrical, television, and home video, in order to maximize exposure and coordinate marketing and advertising.

Foreign and domestic theatrical distribution, as well as home Video/DVD, are the primary revenue streams for independent films. Additional revenue may be derived from television and ancillary markets. Success in these ancillary markets will usually depend on the quantity of success enjoyed by the picture during its theatrical exhibition.

Brothers’ Ink, LLC has developed several strategies to obtain distribution for the picture. First, we will leverage and further cultivate existing professional relationships in the entertainment business. We plan to develop direct connections to both studio distribution executives as well as to production companies with “studio output deals”. (Studio output deals allow certain high-profile production companies to utilize the global distribution arms of major studios.)

To gain access to an even broader set of distribution decision-makers, we will seek to create an aura of desirability for the film from the very beginning. We will generate publicity for the project in the pre-production phase and we will start creating “buzz” within the industry and the comedy fan community. This is accomplished by, among other tactics, communicating with industry trade magazines and providing updates to insider websites. This early level of awareness will help strengthen our position as we begin to brief executives at the major studios. However, based on the commercial potential of the film, studio executives will want to keep track of our progress. When the film is complete, we will enter it into festivals around the world. The festivals will enable us to expose the film to influential moviegoers and to gain press attention.

In addition, we will retain a sales agent to represent the film at major film markets including the American Film Market, which takes place each November in Santa Monica, CA and Cannes Film Festival, which takes place each May in France. Film Buyers from around the world gather at these markets seeking motion pictures for foreign and domestic distribution in theatrical, television and ancillary markets. All of these elements will help us to expose the film to influential moviegoers, to gain press attention, and help our film stand out from competitive films.

The film will be particularly appealing to distributors due to large audience appeal because of the family and comedy genres and the PG targeted rating. With a film that is well received on the festival circuit, which connects with a broad audience, we should be suitably positioned to obtain a distribution deal from a major distributor. We will seek distribution from companies that give the films a theatrical run, but that are also strong in DVD/Video distribution. While the film business is inherently risky, we are producing the film at a small enough budget that will enable us to generate a profit under a number of different scenarios.

 Production

Principle photography is planned for the Fall/Winter of 2016.  Pre-production has already begun.   The films will be shot entirely on location in Georgia.  For further information on the benefits of filming in Georgia, see ‘Georgia Motion Picture Tax Incentives’ on Page 13.

 Rights

Brothers’ Ink intends to negotiate all ancillary rights to Crossing Walter worldwide.  Ancillary rights include but are not limited to the following:  Network TV, Premium Cable TV, Syndicated TV, DVD rental and sales, Pay-Per-View TV, Posters, Soundtrack CDs, Toys, Soft Drinks, Games, etc.

All rights are currently with John Waldron and Brothers’ Ink Productions.  These rights are to be negotiated with each individual distribution territory worldwide.  We seek to retain all publishing rights.

 Merchandising

We are looking for partnerships with major advertising like Pepsi, Apple Computer, and Dominos Pizza to help with creating merchandising for the films to possibly include a music soundtrack, toys, clothing, special promotions, posters, games, books, etc.  The merchandising rights will be negotiated as needed.

Licensing

Concurrently, we will negotiate television licensing, cable, DVD/Video and all other ancillary rights Worldwide.

Net Profit

Net Profits will be distributed after all expenses and fees are met and will be paid as follows:

  • 90% to the investors, 10% to Brothers’ Ink Productions, until 150% of initial capital investment is reached;

For a profit projection, see Figure 3.5 under ‘Revenue Forecasting and Projections’ on page 15.

Casting

We are committed to including at least two (2) “A” list actors that will attract studio distribution and/or audience interest.

Potential Cast:

WALTER:

  • Paul Giamatti
  • Jeff Daniels
  • Bill Engval

DeWAYNE:

  • Bruce Campbell
  • John Tuturro
  • Jim Belushi

PATRICIA:

  • Holly Hunter
  • Frances McDormand
  • Bonnie Hunt

GUY:

  • M.C. Gainey
  • Larry the Cable Guy

FAST FACTS

     Rating

  • 78 of the films in the top 100 grossing films of all time (Worldwide) are rated PG or PG-13.
  • 22 of the films in the top 25 grossing films of all time (Worldwide) are rated PG or PG-13. Out of the other 3, two are G and 1 is R.
  • All 10 of the top 10 grossing films of all time (Worldwide) are PG or PG-13.

     Genre

  • Over 50% of all the films on the one hundred top grossing films of all time (Worldwide) would fall under the Family or Comedy Genres.
  • Out of the 18 films entering the top 25 (Worldwide) since 2000, 13 of them are Family or Comedy.
  • So far in 2007, 8 of the top 10 grossing films (Domestic) are Family or Comedy.BrosInk Logo (1)

     Executive Summary

      Brothers’ Ink Productions

In 2003, Donovan Montierth, Adam Montierth and Jason Walters created Brothers’ Ink Productions. They released their first 35mm short film, “Reveille” to audiences in 2004 and have since produced or partnered with other production companies to produce over 15 short films based on Brothers’ Ink scripts.

The company has participated in over 40 film festivals across the country, won over 20 awards for their films and screenplays, and sold and optioned several screenplays. Many of the films have aired on TV and most recently, Brothers’ Ink Productions signed a contract with the Department of Defense for them to play “Reveille” on the American Forces Network and the Pentagon Channel throughout 2007. Brothers’ Ink Productions won a Rocky Mountain Emmy® Award for “Reveille” on October 6th, 2007.

Brothers’ Ink Productions added Nick Stahr, Neil Mather, John Waldron and Adam Devaney as Creative Directors in November 2008. This enabled Brothers’ Ink Productions to increase production and in 2008 they produced 6 short films and went into development on 3 feature films.

Brothers’ Ink Productions is an award-winning production company focused on creating commercial films that are high in quality at conservative budgets.  Brothers’ Ink recently finished their first feature film called Locker 13 starring Golden Globe Winner Ricky Schroder, Rick Hoffman, Jon Gries, Jon Polito, Curtis Armstrong, Krista Allen, Tatyana Ali and lensed by Academy Award Winner Russell Carpenter.

Member Managers

John Waldron

     Executive Producer, Brothers’ Ink Productions

John Waldron is a professional stand-up comedian, comedy writer and producer. He produced and co-hosted “Morning Coffee”, an AM radio morning show on KFHX 1620 AM, produced and co-hosted “Happy Hour”, a drive-time comedy talk show on NBC radio, and has written comedy for KDKB’s “Tim and Mark Show”, “The Howard Stern Show”, and several local radio programs.

He has trained with David Razowsky of Second City, Tony Vicich of The Tempe Improv, and performed with the likes of Jeff Altman, Charles Fleischer, Franklin Ajaye, and Steve Bluestein. He has hosted several television programs, including “Arizona Express”, “Arizona Book-Nook”, and “Live!…on tape!”, a short-lived but hilarious comedy talk-show in the Phoenix Market. He has Directed, Produced, and Acted in several Brothers’ Ink films, including “American Big Game”, “Dirty Laundry”, “Relocation”, and “Neighborwood”.

Donovan Montierth

     Executive Producer, Brothers’ Ink Productions

 Donovan has written, sold and optioned several screenplays, including adapting two novels from popular thriller authors into scripts. Donovan was also included as an Honorable Mention in the Best American Mystery Stories 2007, edited by Carl Hiaasen, for a short story called, “Capacity to Kill” which is published in the Thuglit Anthology Hardcore Hardboiled by Kensington Press. Donovan won an Emmy Award along with his brother Adam for writing, directing and producing Reveille, which was shown on the Pentagon Channel and all over the world on the American Forces Network.

Adam Montierth

     Executive Producer, Brothers’ Ink Productions

 For many years, Adam has specialized in directing, writing and producing a plethora of programs in classic and new media. He specializes in providing a cinematic storytelling experience for advertisers/brand marketers that want to reach their audience in a new and effective way. Some highlights include a 30 minute interview with New York Best Selling Author J.A. Jance, a viral public service announcement for battered women, a10-minute short film about military veterans that was viewed over 6 million times on Google and the release of an informative children’s book called, “Dream” that included a book tour where he spoke to elementary schools throughout Arizona about the importance making your dreams come true.

Revenue Models

SELECTED INDEPENDENT FILMS COMEDY GENRE
(Millions of Dollars)
ESTIMATED BOX DVD TOTAL
BUDGET OFFICE RENTALS REVENUE
Napoleon Dynamite $400,000 $46,541,000 $43,800,000 $89,941,000
Little Miss Sunshine $8,000,000 $99,041,006 $46,320,000 $137,361,006
Sideways $16,000,000 $109,336,065 $37,700,000 $131,036,065
Garden State $2,500,000 $35,825,316 $19,800,000 $53,125,316
Being John Malkovich $13,000,000 $22,863,596 $28,300,000 $38,163,596
My Big Fat Greek Wedding $5,000,000 $241,400,000 $65,100,000 $301,500,000
Calendar Girls $10,000,000 $96,543,000 $28,300,000 $114,843,000
Thank You For Smoking $6,500,000 $39,232,211 $27,310,000 $60,042,211
About Schmidt $30,000,000 $105,834,556 $51,000,000 $126,834,556
Muriel’s Wedding $3,000,000 $57,500,000 unknown $54,500,000
(Note:  Domestic DVD/Video Only.) Sources:  Box Office Mojo.com, The-Movie-Times.com, IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes.com
SELECTED STUDIO FILMS WITHIN THE COMEDY GENRE
(Millions of Dollars)
ESTIMATED BOX DVD TOTAL
BUDGET OFFICE RENTALS REVENUE
Stranger Than Fiction $38,000,000 $53,227,000 $35,690,000 $50,917,000
Are We There Yet? $32,000,000 $97,919,147 $44,010,000 $109,929,147
Nacho Libre $35,000,000 $99,253,544 $34,290,000 $98,543,544
Adaptation $19,000,000 $32,801,173 $48,800,000 $62,601,173
The Family Man $60,000,000 $124,745,083 $86,900,000 $151,645,083
The Family Stone $18,000,000 $92,283,851 $42,970,000 $117,253,851
The Upside of Anger $12,000,000 $28,198,143 $44,500,000 $60,698,143
A Good Year $35,000,000 $40,679,283 $15,730,000 $21,409,283
RV $50,000,000 $87,528,173 $41,740,000 $79,268,173
Must Love Dogs $30,000,000 $58,405,313 $36,190,000 $64,595,313
(Note:  Domestic DVD/Video Only.) Sources:  Box Office Mojo.com, The-Movie-Times.com, IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes.com

Expected Budget:

SUMMARY OF ESTIMATED PRODUCTION COSTS ESTIMATE
Acct # Description Page #  Total
1100 Story and Other Rights 2        77,927
1200 Producer 3      183,300
1300 Director 4      117,970
1400 Cast 5      388,764
1500 Travel and Living 6      208,125
1600 Miscellaneous 6        59,689
1900 Fringe Benefits 6      133,672
TOTAL ABOVE-THE-LINE    1,169,447
2000 Production Staff 7      117,333
2100 Extra Talent 8      211,400
2200 Art Direction 9      146,880
2300 Set Construction 10        20,050
2400 Set Striking 10          6,240
2500 Set Operations 11      173,280
2700 Set Dressing 13        39,072
2800 Property 14        43,040
2900 Men’s Wardrobe 15        43,200
3000 Women’s Wardrobe 16        29,200
3100 Makeup and Hairdressing 17        36,360
3200 Electrical, Rigging, and Operations 18        66,884
3300 Camera Operations 19        69,782
3400 Sound Operations 20        42,952
3500 Transportation 21        79,720
3600 Location 22        88,824
3700 Production Film and Lab 23        12,000
4000 Second Unit 25        45,000
  4900 Fringe Benefits 26      112,591
TOTAL PRODUCTION PERIOD    1,383,808
5000 Editing 27      378,000
5100 Music 28        90,000
5200 Post Production Sound 29          9,324
5400 Main and End Titles 31        17,500
TOTAL EDITING PERIOD      494,824
6500 Publicity 32        25,000
6700 Insurance 33          7,300
6800 General Overhead 34          5,700
7500 Fees, Charges, and Misc. 34          8,000
TOTAL OTHER CHARGES        46,000
TOTAL ABOVE-THE-LINE    1,169,447
TOTAL BELOW-THE-LINE    1,924,632
ABOVE AND BELOW-THE-LINE    3,094,079
Contingency      154,704
GRAND TOTAL    3,248,783

Revenue Forecasting and Projections:

In regards to utilizing private financing instead of having a major studio produce the film, “Crossing Walter” has two distribution options; 1) Negative Pick-Up1 or 2) Distribution Only2.  Relative to the direct expenses of the comparative Family Comedies listed above, below is a breakdown of revenue, expenses and a potential return for “Crossing Walter”.

1In film production, a negative pickup is a contract entered into by an independent producer and a movie studio wherein the studio agrees to purchase the movie from the producer at a given date and for a fixed sum. Depending on whether the studio pays part or all of the cost of the film, the studio will receive the domestic, international, DVD and/or TV rights to the film, with net profits split between the producer and the studio.  (source: Wikepedia.org)

2In film production, a distribution only deal is a contract entered into between an independent producer and a movie studio wherein the studio agrees to advertise, market and distribute the film.  The studio will recoup Direct Distribution Expenses prior to the disbursement of net profits.

Description Negative Pick-up  Distribution Only
US Theatrical Gross Box Office  $  15,000,000  $    15,000,000
US Gross DVD Sales & Rental  $  17,931,051  $    17,931,051
US Gross Network, Premium Cable & Syndicated TV  $    7,500,000  $     7,500,000
International Theatrical Gross Box Office  $  22,500,000  $    22,500,000
International Gross DVD Sales & Rental  $  26,896,577  $    26,896,577
Int’l. Gross Network, Premium Cable & Syndicated TV  $  10,800,000  $    10,800,000
Cumulative Gross Receipts (SUB-TOTAL)  $ 100,627,628  $  100,627,628
Direct Distribution Expenses  $  77,064,191  $    71,234,140
Negative Cost (BUDGET)  $    5,000,000  $     5,000,000
Talent Residuals  $    3,000,000  $     3,000,000
Producer’s Gross Receipts  $  18,297,624  $    24,190,675
Talent Participation (if any, @ 7%)  $    1,280,834  $     1,693,347
Producer’s Net Receipts  $  17,016,790  $    22,497,328
Studio’s Share  $    8,508,395  $                 –
Producer’s Share (NET PROFIT)  $    8,508,395  $    22,497,328
Investor’s Share  $    7,629,198  $    21,538,894
Investor ROI 153% 431%

Brothers’ Ink Productions is looking for funding or Production Partner for the feature film with an expected budget of $3.25 Million. For Script, Prospectus, Executive Summary, PPM, Budget or more info:

Please contact John Waldron at CrossingWalter@Brothers-ink.com.

 

Real Men

 

One of the best unknown comedy movies of all time would have to be the hilarious, Real Men (1987) with Jim Belushi and John Ritter. Jim Belushi plays a super-competent secret agent on the trail of Russian thugs. John Ritter plays a milquetoast dad who gets mixed up in the caper. The story follows their adventures over the course of a week, in which Ritter develops some guts and Belushi gets in touch with his sensitive side. It was written and directed by Dennis Feldman, who also wrote Just One of The Guys (1985), The Golden Child (1986), Species (1995) and Virus (1999), but only directed this one movie.real-men

The movie has some of the greatest buddy-buddy scenes I’ve ever seen, especially when Jim Belushi tries to teach John Ritter some spy skills. It’s so quotable…my brother and I always find ourselves quoting lines from this movie almost on a daily basis. (I used to have a pretty good pen, Bob…) Just as an example, here’s some other great exchanges:

REAL MEN, John Ritter, James Belushi, 1987. ©United Artists
REAL MEN, John Ritter, James Belushi, 1987. ©United Artists

NICK: Would you feel better if you had a gun?
BOB: Maybe…
(gives him the revolver and Nick turns around, Bob tries to fire it  at Nick, nothing happens)
NICK: You don’t have to test it Bob, it’s not loaded.

or

Bob: I didn’t know you smoked.
Nick: Just after sex Bob.
Bob: Well how much is that?
Nick: About a pack a day.
Bob: You know that will kill you?
Nick: It won’t kill you Bob, but it will make you very sore.

or

Nick: I’ve got good news and bad news…
Bob: Whats the bad news?
Nick: We’ll never get out of here alive.
Bob:  Whats the good news?
Nick:  We won’t be here that long.

or

Nick:  We’re as safe here as we are anywhere.
Bob: How safe is that?
Nick: Oh, not very.
Bob: They’re gonna shoot at us, aren’t they?
Nick: Probably, Bob. It’s what they brought the guns for.
Bob: What are they trying to do?
Nick: They’re trying to kill me. They know I can’t afford a loss like that.real_men_us_ld

Scavenger Hunt

 

A little known movie that my brother and I really enjoyed growing up was a fun family comedy called, Scavenger Hunt. It came out in 1979 and had an all-star cast of great comedians like Richard Benjamin, Richard Mulligan, James Coco, Dirk Benedict, Clevon Little, Cloris Leachman, Robert Morley, Ruth Gordon, Roddy McDowell, Tony Randall, Scatman Crothers, Stephen Furst, Stuart Pankin, Arnold Schwarzennegger, Richard Masur, Pat McCormick, Vincent Price, Meatloaf, and Willie Aames. The film is about the will of Milton Parker, who made millions inventing and selling board games and creates the ultimate game for his employees and famliy. Upon his death, his relatives and domestic staff gather for the reading of the will and it stipulates that a Scavenger Hunt will be held to determine the beneficiaries of his sizeable estate. The winning team gets all the money, the rest get nothing. It feels like It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad (is that enough Mads?) World (1963) or Midnight Madness (1980).Scavenger Hunt 2

The film was directed by Michael Schultz, who also directed the Richard Pryor classics, Car Wash, Greased Lightning, Which Way is Up and Bustin’ Loose as well as the features Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Carbon Copy, and the Last Dragon and a TON of Tv Shows. It was produced by Melvin Simon who also produced other hard-to-find movies such as Love At First Bite, When a Stranger Calls, The Stunt Man, My Bodyguard, Zorro the Gay Blade, Chu Chu and the Philly Flash and the 3 Porky’s movies. I’ve looked for most of these movies and I found it to be pretty hard to find any of them.  Especially Scavenger Hunt, which only seems to be available on VHS, but will be released very soon on DVD and Blu-Ray:  https://www.kinolorber.com/Scavenger hunt 3 Scavenger Hunt

 

Animatic, Effective Pitch and Pre-Vis Tool

 

Traditional techniques for pre-production on anything intended to be filmed, such as a potential TV show or movie is simply to have a script or treatment of it. Nowadays, that’s just not enough to get people to see your vision behind a project and get excited about your potential production. In some cases, the project has to have more documentation, maybe a show bible if it’s a TV show or drawings for a movie. It’s the paintings of Ralph McQuarrie that got 20th Century Fox excited about Star Wars in 1976, for example.original concept for star wars

An effective modern tool for pre-visualization is the animatic. This usually is done for pre-production on a film as a way to perfect the sequence in an inexpensive medium, rather than on real footage that can be very expensive to edit into a working piece of film.  Storyboarding usually comes first as a visual tool.  The storyboarding stage may be followed by simplified mock-ups called “animatics” to give a better idea of how the scene will look and feel with motion and timing. At its simplest, an animatic is a series of still images edited together and displayed in sequence with rough dialogue (i.e., scratch vocals) and/or rough soundtrack added to the sequence of still images (usually taken from a storyboard, for example this one below from the Towering Inferno — I show more in a blog post for Towering Inferno here) to test whether the sound and images are working effectively together.Towering inferno storyboard

Now, that’s where pre-production uses the tool, but recently the tool has become very handy as a “pitch” tool.  If a writer wants to show a network, studio or production company the merits of their story, they could create a trailer, or pitch video as a way to get them excited about the script’s potential. Amazon Studios is one of the few studios who uses the new techniques very effectively. We wrote a version of a story a few years ago called, Zombies Vs. Gladiators that we were very proud of. It’s an action packed Zombie origin story set in the rise of the Roman Empire (click here to see the screenplay). Here is a simple animatic test we made to visualize a part of a storyboard we were working on for the script.[fliiby]https://flii.by/file/05b7gukqlow/[/fliiby]

We also did a teaser trailer for the script which we liked very much and seemed to get the most favorable views and reviews from the readers and studio personnel that saw it, but it eventually was passed on and they never pursued it further. Here’s that if you would like to see it:[fliiby]https://flii.by/file/kz64fl7ib4f/[/fliiby]

Over the years, we’ve also developed a lot of pre-vis videos and documents for a feature film we are still actively pursuing based on our Emmy- award winning short film Reveille, called Capture the Flag. We have information about that on our “In Development” page. We have a poster mock-up for example. But since the film is still being pitched actively, I can’t show you a lot of those materials (unless you’re an executive or producer then contact us on the contact us page and I will let you see more). But I can show you two small clips of animatics that we developed as a few more examples how the animatic tool can be effective in creating a simple visual, that once added with the proper music and dialogue by professional actors can be effective in getting people to read your script or bible. Now with that said, all levels of the pitch should be strong…good writing and strong follow through on a query letter, treatment, show bible, script, storyboard, animatic, trailer, and verbal pitch, is still crucial in order to be picked up.[fliiby]https://flii.by/file/z3d1m9h1ysa/[/fliiby] [fliiby]https://flii.by/file/fxnxjvcn76k/[/fliiby]

David Huddleston, Star of Reveille, Locker 13 RIP

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We met David when we were casting for our short film tribute to American vets, Reveille. We had originally cast Gordon Jump from WKRP in Cincinnati, but he had to drop out due to Pulmonary Fibrosis, which he eventually died of. We were very sad about Gordon, but was pleased when we got a hold of David over the phone. He was willing to consider the role on short notice and asked that we fax over the 3 page script. He told us initially that he would get back to us within the week, but called us back immediately after 5 minutes and accepted the role because he loved the script. reveille david huddleston james mceachin

You see, David is an American Air Force Veteran. So the film had a special place in his heart…and I think it shows on screen. He became the heart of the film. See for yourself, if you haven’t had a chance to view the film:  David Huddleston in Reveille, Veteran Film TributeReveille

Now, when we finished the film we showed it in a special screening just for David and James McEachin, who plays the Army Veteran. They both were incredible touched by the end result and later each of them told us that the film was one of the proudest moments they ever had as actors. We are extremely proud of that, and of them. They were the perfect representation to our tribute. James McEachin was also an American Army Veteran in real life and he spent the next 7 years playing the Old Army Soldier at patriotic events across the country in front of thousands of people.
James McEachinBruce Dellis and David HuddlestonWhen we produced our 1st feature film, we had the opportunity to work with David again for Locker 13, a supernatural thriller anthology.  He played Floyd Marley, the leader of the Benevolent Byzantine Order of the Nobles of the Enigmatic Oracle, at a shady local lodge. He was great in the film and really stands out in the segment. Curtis Armstrong, from such movies as Revenge of the Nerds and Better Off Dead, jumped at the chance to work with him and played the role of Clifford. He had loved the actor since he was young and always wanted to work with him. He recently said in a tweet, “ . I once did a movie just so I could work with him. One of those actors who steals everything they’re in. Great actor.”[fliiby]https://flii.by/file/c2mvr036e5v/[/fliiby] curtis armstrong locker 13

We couldn’t agree with you more, Curtis. David, you will be missed. We enjoyed every minute we shared with you.
David Huddleston

Digital Transfer Restoration Comparison

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Charlie Chan On Broadway 1937:  Restoration comparisons screen-to-screen from a digital transfer process. Charlie Chan on Broadway has a digital transfer and cleanup done upon it’s release on DVD.

Eat My Dust, Grand Theft Auto

 

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Ron Howard was already a household name when he went to work as a teenager for producer Roger Corman. Roger Corman is famous for knowing how to turn a good idea into a very low budget movie. He concentrated on action, sci-fi and horror aspects and many times mixed them whenever he could. He also had a bargain for actors that worked, “…act in one movie and I’ll let you direct one.” He did this with budding actor-turned-director Ron Howard and both of them got boosts in their careers and we got 2 of the craziest car chase movies ever to be made; Eat My Dust (1976) and Grand Theft Auto (1977).Grand Theft Auto

Charles B. Griffith, the screenwriter, came up with the title of the film when the crew were shooting the car chase at the sand dunes. The crew got covered with sand and dirt so much that Griffith turned to Roger Corman and said “We ought to call this picture ‘Eat My Dust'”. The original title for this film was “The Car.” The movie took 4 weeks to shoot. Ron Howard did all of his scenes in 10 days. A body double drove the car for the rest of the filming. The film was shot for only $300,000. Much of what makes this movie good can be attributed to Charles B. Griffith imaginative script and to the fantastic stunts in the film. Griffith was paid a paltry sum for his work with Roger Corman, but over time became a legend for independent filmmakers. Quentin Tarantino dedicated his film Deathproof (2007) to Griffith, whom he referred to as one of his main influences and called “the father of redneck cinema”. He also is often cited as the father of American black comedy, due to his screenplays for A Bucket of Blood (1959), The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) and Death Race 2000 (1975).Eat My Dust

Eat My Dust did well at the box office, so Roger Corman gave Ron Howard double the money to direct the next car crash spectacular, Grand Theft Auto, which was still a very low budget for movies, even back then.  Ron Howard asked Roger Corman to hire more extras for the crowd scene at the end of the film. Corman said no because he did not want to go over budget. They also had a very short schedule on this film, for example, the demolition derby sequence was done in a single day. This film also has the added historical value of being the only film that Ron Howard directs and acts in at the same time. He moved permanently behind the camera soon after and never really went back. This film started his wonderful career as a director and went on to make over $15 million at the box office, not including what it did on TV, Video or DVD. A big hit all around for Roger Corman.Grand Theft Auto2

TV Series Bible – Zombie Law

 

Adam and I have been trying for about a year to get a 30 minute comedy TV Show pilot picked up with no luck, so I thought I would post our TV Show Bible for the series here in one of our posts to show our process. I hope it can be of some use to someone, at the very least be interesting to someone who may be curious to see how we approach these things.

We have very little connections in Network and Cable TV, so have been hitting mostly brick walls, but if you’re reading this and can see it as a Series AND have connections with anyone in TV, contact us, we’d love to get this into the proper hands:

Boston SkylineEXT. OFFICES OF WYNN JUSTICE – ESTABLISHING

Superimposed, “One Week Earlier”.

Sign outside of a busy downtown city street building reads, “Wynn Justice Law”. The street is bustling with PEOPLE in suits and dresses, rushing to work.

A ZOMBIE slowly ambles into view in the midst of the madness. He slowly tries to grab and bite people, but he’s way too slow. People rush by, push him out of the way and move faster. No one is worried or taking the Zombie serious.

The Zombie population is ignored, and now commonplace.

A HOMELESS MAN sits against the wall of the building, next to him is a Zombie, also sitting against the wall. A WELLDRESSED WOMAN walks by and throws a dollar bill down on the sidewalk in front of the Zombie.

She then notices that she threw it in front of the Zombie, so she picks it up and then looks at the Homeless man and throws the bill in his lap. He nods a thanks.

EDWIN WYNN TALKING HEAD

EDWIN WINN (50’s) wears a tweed sports coat and plaid bow tie.

EDWIN WYNN

To say we were floundering would have been an understatement. In the current climate of Zombie Infestation, we just couldn’t find cases in our current practice area. It was getting desperate. We simply had to start thinking outside of the box, or risk the chance of bleeding to death.

He watches as a zombie ambles by and looks at the camera again.

EDWIN WYNN (CONT’D)

Literally.

THE PITCH

Series Logline:  The zombie apocalypse has come and now living in a world filled with zombies is the new normal. Zombie Law is the law firm of Edwin Wynn and Calvin Justice, with the help of their Investigator Laurel Hunt, they represent zombies in all kinds of lawsuits.

Pilot Logline:   In the current climate of the restless undead, struggling attorney’s Calvin and Edwin, with the help of bounty hunter Laurel, have to find new clients quick or face bankruptcy. Their first client, a zombie weatherman in a wrongful termination suit.

In a World Filled with Zombies…It’s Time to Fight…

…For Their Right to Proper Representation.

                                                      ~ Calvin Justice, Esq.

THE SHOW

The primary structure is a one-camera sitcom (Modern Family, The Office) type comedy that at times has a documentary feel where the characters talk to the camera.

In Zombie Law, the commentary is setup almost like video depositions in a case, scattered throughout each episode.

The feeling is a mix of supernatural, comedy, the law and the mundane.

The ideal would be Boston Legal during the zombie apocalypse or simply Office Space with zombies.

Sitcoms like The Addams Family or The Munsters could be accurate, but set within the modern business world not hidden behind the family’s sole residence.

Another good example would be to recreate the original Ghostbusters esthetic and tightly compact it within a sitcom format.Zombies hit the streets

STORYLINES

Each episode features a single case or lawsuit as the “A” story and then a “B” story that continues the season one arc and “C” storyline usually consisting of some kind of rift or resolution to the 3 main characters.

“A” STORYzombie_01A completely compact case or lawsuit, within each episode. IE: the pilot episode is a wrongful termination lawsuit of a zombie weatherman from KRQ News Station Channel 13.  Wynn-Justice Law is on the verge of bankruptcy and takes the case as their first in a long line of representing the new populace of zombies in the city.  They change their name to Zombie Law.zombie_outfits_03

Some examples of other lawsuits throughout the season can be:

"Love Hurts" -- Pictured: Luis Guzmán (Jesse Sallander). Christa must put aside her personal feelings for Grace and work with her to treat Brody, (Cameron Boyce), a patient who claims to have been abused at a camp for troubled teens. Also, Grace is surprised when Campbell asks her out, on CODE BLACK, Wednesday, Feb. 17 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Sonja Flemming/CBS ©2016 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

  • Family Law – A marriage counselor files for divorce citing irreconcilable differences because her husband is a slob and an unrepentant cheater and she’s dead. No longer…til’ death do they part.
  • Personal Injury – A post-life insurance adjuster files for workman’s comp when his employer sends him to a construction site where he gets his arm severed in a wood chipper. In the end, his job costs him an arm and a leg.
  • Tax Evasion – Zombie Law represents a Living Impaired Man who gets sued by the US Government when he stops paying taxes, just because he’s dead. Two things are no longer for certain; death and taxes.
  • Breach of Contract – A dead mailman wants to sue his life insurance company for not providing him the full death benefit to himself when he died. Their argument is simply that he is not the beneficiary, not that he’s not dead, but since his wife is also a zombie, they don’t feel the need to pay her either.
  • Letter of Eviction – A tenant tries to fight a letter of eviction from the management company of the apartment building he’s “living” in. They argue that he can’t really be “living” in the apartment since he’s dead.

CALVIN JUSTICE

Where do you suggest he move?

APARTMENT MANAGER

The cemetery?

SEASON ONE “B” STORY

The “B” storyline is that a major pharmaceuticals company (MOREAUCORP) is the one responsible for the zombie outbreak and Zombie Law has several clashes with the company in and out of court throughout the season.

It gets to be an all-out war, when Moreaucorp creates a new kind of zombie, a faster-stronger Berserker Zombie that threatens the whole world.

There are two main bad guys in the leadership at Moreaucorp.

Moreaucorp.Island of Dr Moreau

The name by the way is a hint to the real identity of the CEO (the secret shadow figure) who is the heir of the famous…DR. MOREAU. The H.G. Wells fictional protagonist in The Island of Dr. Moreau where Dr. Moreau was found to have been creating human-like hybrid animal beings, is the CEO, Edward Prendic.

His main LABORATORY SCIENTIST turns out to be THE FLY.The Fly Scientist

Throughout the series, the scientist will slowly pull in SCIENTIFIC ABORATIONS into the world Ala ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU.the fly returns

This way, we can also bring in other classic monsters that are science or organic based like:

  • The 50ft WOMAN
  • The SHRINKING MAN
  • CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON
  • SWAMP THING
  • THEM
  • THE BLOB
  • LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS.Little Shop of Horrors

(These could all be variations or our versions of these things.) Think about all the campy 1950’s drive-in feature creatures.

Not only is the CEO a secret shadow figure that gets revealed during the season, he also turns out to be a well-regarded State SENATOR, that eventually runs for President of the United States against the…

ZOMBIE PRESIDENT.Zombie Obama

Here’s more on that:

POLITICAL ATMOSPHERE:

The atmosphere behind the zombie apocalypse is the political commentary. Politics keeps coming up in several episodes that go along with the rising tide of zombie supporters for zombie rights.  It’s a metaphor for rights groups throughout history.  Later on in the season, the President of the United States gets bitten and becomes a zombie and Zombie Law is brought in to argue the diminished capacity of the President in front of House of Representatives and again in a trial at the Senate and whether or not he’s capable of doing the job of the executive office. This ultimately comes full circle as Zombie Law fights from episode 1 all the way through the series for zombie RIGHTS.

“C” STORY

The 3rd story thread usually consisting of some kind of rift or resolution to the 3 MAIN CHARACTERS; Calvin is in love with Laurel, Laurel hates Edwin, Edwin creates chaos for Calvin…etc.  Here is a specific example:

  • Calvin’s ex-fiancée, that spurned him at the altar, comes looking for him. She’s recently dead and wants restitution from Moreaucorp for accidentally creating the zombie that bit her. She’s realized a lot of regrets since dying, the main one being Calvin. This causes confusion and complications with him and with Laurel, whose jealousy makes her realize that she may have deeper feelings for Calvin.ZL Anna Zach

LAUREL HUNT TALKING HEAD

LAUREL HUNT

I’ve known Cal for most of my life, I’ve never seen him this low before.

She looks behind her to see if Cal may be around listening.

LAUREL HUNT (CONT’D)

And I’ve seen him get stood up at the altar. That was embarrassing. Pathetic really. But this was a new low. Even for him.

CHARACTERS

CALVIN JUSTICE

Calvin (30’s) is a bleeding heart without a paycheck, a conservative idealistic do-gooder.Cast of Zombie Law 3

Mona looks solemnly at Edwin and then to Cal. Cal knows when to speak and when to listen.

MONA

I have been here a long time. We’ve been thru a lot together. Edwin, Cal, you’re excellent lawyers… But you suck at running a business!

Edwin looks hurt, but Cal looks like that’s just about right.

MONA (CONT’D)

Cal, you’re a bleeding heart and you take every sad story that comes along. Many of them pro bono.

CAL

I do not.

MONA

My car broke down this morning. Can I borrow some money to get it fixed?

Mona holds her hand out.

CAL

(Taking his wallet out.) Oh, I didn’t know that. I only have…

Mona spreads her arms out for validation. Cal realizes and puts his wallet away.

CAL (CONT’D)

That was just mean.zachary-levi-heroes-reborn-star

He doesn’t like that he got roped into going into practice with Edwin years before, simply because Edwin thought their names together made for “great marketing”.

CALVIN JUSTICE

You only partnered with me because of my last name.

EDWIN WYNN

I don’t deny, Wynn-Justice Law, it’s a good marketing gimmick, but we’re good together.

CALVIN JUSTICE

We’re bankrupt, Ed.

He does, however, embrace the idea of helping the zombies.  He’s an activist with a cause!

ZL zachary-levi-psa-slice

EDWIN WYNN

Edwin Wynn is a brainless get-rich-quick schemer, putting his money where his mouth is…empty. Edwin is a liberal free-spirited entrepreneur.z Anthony_Michael_Hall_1

MONA

And Ed…

EDWIN

(He taps his forehead.) I’m a marketing master. The wheels never stop.

MONA

Like recently, you hosted an adult Slip & Slide contest to try and drum up business.

EDWIN

(He smiles.) Brilliant, I know.

MONA

People got hurt. And your P.I. Referral just signed 3 new clients and filed cases against us.

Ed frowns.

MONA (CONT’D)

Oh by the way, they sent you a fruit basket.

She points to a basket of exotic fruit off to the side. Ed gets excited.Z Anthony+Michael+Hall

He’s like a child in so many ways, 200% loyal, fearless, easily excitable, always upbeat and positive, his enthusiasm knows no bounds and often gets them into trouble, especially Calvin.

CALVIN JUSTICE AND EDWIN WYNN TALKING HEADS

EDWIN WYNN

We don’t need her. What happens when you fall off a horse?

CALVIN JUSTICE

ED, don’t cliché me.

EDWIN WYNN

Winners are just losers who never gave up.

CALVIN JUSTICE

Ed…

EDWIN WYNN

I’m just saying, we’re Wynn-Justice. We just need to figure it out.

Although, if backed into a corner, he can be a scary and formidable foe.  Someone you want on your side, he has a joyful glee in making people think he’s mean, but can use it at times to make the pair stronger. It’s downright mischievous at times.ZL ANthony Michael Hall

LAUREL HUNT

Their INVESTIGATOR is a bounty hunter named LAUREL HUNT. She owns a self-defense dojo, which is appropriate when you think of the world they live in, survival is a much valued commodity. She is the muscle.

Fringe TV Series starring Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Jasika Nicole, John Noble, Lance Reddick, Blair Brown, Michael Cerveris, Kirk Acevedo, Seth Gabel, Ryan McDonald, Mark Valley, Michael Kopsa, Lily Pilblad, Leonard Nimoy and Ari Graynor - dvdbash.com

Laurel walks over to a small counter by the door. A rough Biker is waiting for her.

BIKER

I’ve got a coupon for your “Evading Police Package”…

He pulls the piece of paper from his leather jacket vest pocket and slams it on the counter.

LAUREL HUNT

The free lesson on how to get out of handcuffs? She looks at the flyer and reaches into a drawer.

BIKER

That’s the one.

She pulls out some handcuffs and slaps one on the wrist of the Biker.

BIKER (CONT’D)

Hey, what the…

LAUREL HUNT

You want the lesson, right?

BIKER

Yeah…

She cuffs the other side to a pipe attached to the wall nearby.

LAUREL HUNT

Here’s the lesson. Don’t break the law!

BIKER

What the? Why you little B—

Laurel headbutts the Biker in the face and knocks him out.  He hangs limply from the pipe.Z Anna Gun

Long-time friends with Calvin, they do not realize yet that, THEY ARE IN LOVE. The sexual tension is tangible, from the very start. The attraction is there, even if they don’t admit it verbally at first.ZL Anna Torv Window

Later in the season they complicate things by replaying the wall of Jericho scene in It Happened One Night. (look it up) Eventually, they connect.

She comes in handy every week and provides the show with some much needed action at times. In the 2 k’s…kicking butt and kissing.

JUDGE DEL TORO aka DODGER ELVIS

Living in an odd world where zombies are real and running around, gives the show an unusual feeling that anything and anyone is possible.  To emphasize that very thing, we’ve created a character that exemplifies that “anyone can be anything” persona; The Dodger Elvis as a JUDGE.Elvis Shadow

ROBERT RUE

Aren’t you going to swear me in?

JUDGE DEL TORO (40’s) turns to Robert to address him. Judge Del Toro looks like a Hispanic Elvis impersonator, with rings on all his fingers, sideburns, oversized gold shades and a pompadour. He picks up his bedazzled gavel and points it at Robert.

JUDGE DEL TORO

Now, see here, little man, this is just a hearing to determine if the plaintiff has a case, no need for that formality just yet. Please just answer the question, thankyouverymuch.Elvis

ZOMBIES

Let’s talk about what the series is wrapped around…ZOMBIES.

In most zombie films and TV shows, zombies are mindless, feeding monsters that are used as fodder.  To kill and forget about, to mow down in droves.

Our series ventures to change that. The series ventures to play on that impression by starting out to make fun of it and then to slowly HUMANIZE the zombies again.Zombies

To show the progression of the zombie disease as if it was Alzheimer’s or Dementia. To slowly endear the zombie to the viewer.  To get them on “their” side. We use it as a metaphor for HUMAN RIGHTS and to help us examine the human condition and the political and prejudicial atmosphere that is the United States of America.Zombie_law

www.injuredbyazombie.com   www.facebook.com/ZombieLaw

Zombie Sign

Ruckus or First Blood

 

Here is the plot for a movie:

Kyle Hanson is a Vietnam veteran whose traumatic war-time experiences have left him unable to rejoin mainstream society. When Kyle, unkempt and in dirty fatigues, stops in a small town for some food, the local bullies can’t wait for an opportunity to harass him. After Kyle uses his Special Forces training to escape the bullies, he becomes the subject of a community-wide manhunt. Only Jenny Bellows, a local girl whose husband was declared missing in action in Vietnam, is willing to give Kyle a chance.first blood

You may be thinking that it’s the movie, First Blood, only all the character names are different, but you’d be wrong. It’s actually the plot listed for the movie Ruckus, made in 1980, two years before First Blood was released. Just to share the plot of First Blood as listed on IMDB.com:

John Rambo is a Vietnam Veteran, winner of the Medal of Honour for serving his country in the Vietnam war and the last surviving member of the unit he was in. Rambo arrives in a small town, where he is arrested by the abusive local Sheriff Will Teasle for refusing to leave town. Rambo is mistreated and he relives his painful memories of being tortured in a prison camp, which goes too far and Rambo escapes from police custody. Rambo is pursued by Teasle and the local police into the woods and Rambo begins a personal war with Teasle, and uses his combat skills and hunts down Teasle and his men. Rambo’s former commanding officer Colonel Samuel Trautman arrives believing Teasle and his men don’t stand a chance with Rambo, and tries to put Rambo’s personal war to a end, as Teasle wants Rambo dead.

Now the history may go back even further than that. First Blood was originally written by David Morell and published in 1972. He started the book in 1968. In 1972, Morrell sold the film rights to First Blood to Columbia Pictures, who in turn sold them to Warner Bros. This trend continued for ten years. The story passed through three companies and eighteen screenplays. Finally, Andrew G. Vajna and Mario Kassar, two film distributors looking to become producers, obtained the film rights.Morrell_First_Blood

Now during the development time of 10 years, word of mouth on productions can spread and several competing projects at various studios can begin based on similar ideas or the same idea or subject. That’s pretty common and as long as the same script is not used, it’s not usually a problem or a copyright issue, as you can’t copy an idea, just a script or novel or treatment can be copyrighted. But similar elements pop up all the time in the movies.  Just look at 3 movies all released in 1989 by different studios that all have similar elements:

Leviathan:  An American deep-sea mining colony stumbles upon a sunken Soviet vessel hiding a horrific secret.

Deep Star Six:  At the bottom of the ocean, the DeepStar Six has just discovered a new and deadly alien menace.

The Abyss:  A civilian diving team is enlisted to search for a lost nuclear submarine and face danger while encountering an alien aquatic species.Max KLeven

Now, in the case of Ruckus, the man behind the picture is Max Kleven, a stuntman/second unit director of over 25 years at this point with work on movies such as Rollerball, Silver Streak, Charlie Varrick, Never a Dull Moment, just to mention a small few and TV Series such as Star Trek and Streets of San Francisco, and many more. He wrote and directed the film Ruckus and it was his first film as director and was produced by independent production company International Vision and distributed by Indie favorite New World Pictures. It was the only film produced by International Vision, which tells me the company was probably formed to produce this one film only, which is very common in independent filmmaking.ruckus

Now the APEX of where the two meet, could have been F.I.S.T. (1978), which just happens to have been written and starring non-other than Sylvester Stallone, who also wrote the screenplay and stars in First Blood. Max Kleven was the Stunt Coordinator for F.I.S.T. and was looking to move over into directing his first film. Now I’m not sure if David Morell’s book was on the set somewhere and both happened to see it, or if either Max or Sylvester was having discussions with each other or other people regarding the book or the idea or what, I’m not sure, but there seems to have been something that happened somewhere to give each an idea that culminated in their two films.ruckus dirk benedict

Regardless, Max Kleven made it to the screen first. He hired an actor straight off a huge TV Series, Battlestar Gallactica, Dirk Benedict and an actress famous for The Exorcist and was deemed as a young up-and-comer, Linda Blair and even hired an ex-stuntman Richard Farnsworth (in fact I write about him as a stuntman for the movie Wells Fargo HERE) in a key role, who was nominated for an Oscar for acting in 1978 for Comes A Horseman.  All the elements seemed to indicate this could be a BIG hit, but it wasn’t! There was a key element missing and that element simply was Sylvester Stallone. I liked Ruckus and saw the film in theaters when I was a child. My brother and I enjoyed it very much, but it’s no First Blood. First Blood is amazing and became the standard in a slew of films that would come after.first_blood

A lot of people have thought over the years that since Ruckus came out first that First Blood ripped it off, but with the extra knowledge about David Morrell and the fact that both screenwriters were key members on F.I.S.T., I would have to say that First Blood has a case that they were the ones ripped off. Now if Ruckus had been a HIT, I’m sure they would have gone after them in court, but since it wasn’t and they moved forward with their own production and became the big HIT, then I think it all worked out. With this said, Ruckus is a fun little film and should be watched if you get the chance.firstblood sylvester stallone

Just a side note, in his commentary, author David Morell cites the inspiration for John Rambo as being World War 2 hero and later Hollywood actor Audie Murphy. We have another great blog post about him here.

 

 

Con-Man Episode: Kids Need to Read

 

Two years ago, my brother and I attended the Phoenix Comicon and we played in the Kids Need to Read Poker Tournament.  I just wanted to stay in long enough to meet Nathan Fillion.  I thought he would show up at some point since it was his charity.  Unfortunately, he did not.  But I did win the tournament.  I have the token to prove it.

The experience became the basis for an idea that we wrote up for a Con-Man writing contest a few months back.  It was fun to write, and although we only came in second place, Alan Tudyk did read it.  So here’s to a first place tournament chip and a second place short script.  I hope you enjoy it!

FADE IN:

INT. PHOENIX COMICON – CONVENTION CENTER

WRAY rushes off of a makeshift stage. He is physically drained from a rousing Q & A session with Spectrum fans.

BOBBY is waiting in the wing holding Wray’s cell phone.

WRAY

Hey, that’s my phone. How did you get that?

He checks his pants pockets.

BOBBY

You know they don’t want you to have it during the Spectrum Q & A.

WRAY

That’s a suggestion. Now I’m feeling a bit violated.

He snatches the phone from her.

They walk.

BOBBY

Jack Moore is on the line.

WRAY

You called Jack?

BOBBY

I knew he was going to be here this weekend.

WRAY

Why did you? How? (Putting the phone up to his ear.) Hello, Jack?

JACK (O.S.)

Hey, Buddy!

WRAY

Uh, oh. What do you want me to do?

JACK (O.S.)

What do you mean?

WRAY

You’re using your “I need you to do something for me” voice.

JACK (O.S.)

I am not. This is my normal voice.

WRAY

So you don’t need anything from me?

JACK (O.S.)

It’s for the children.

WRAY

I don’t like kids.

He says this overly loud and comicon patrons stare at him disapprovingly.

WRAY

I mean, of course I like kids, I just don’t have any kids, to like.

(Exasperated and back to the phone.) What do you need?

JACK (O.S.)

I need you to sit in for me at the Kids Need to Read Charity Poker Tournament. I’m on my way, but I’m going to be late.  And coincidentally, it’s in the room right next to the Q & A you just hosted.

WRAY

Convenient. This sounds somewhat planned.

Wray looks at Bobby who looks away nonchalantly.

JACK (O.S.)

Thanks buddy. It’s for the children.

WRAY

You keep saying that. I don’t even know how to play poker.

JACK (O.S.)

It’s okay. Take my seat. Lose your chips quickly and then duck out. I do it all the time.  Smile, wave, leave.

WRAY

(Heavy sigh.) Okay fine.

JACK (O.S.)

I knew I could count on you. See you soon!

Wray hangs up and puts his phone in his pants pocket. He turns to Bobby.

WRAY

I’m just a big sap.

Bobby doesn’t say anything. She just turns Wray around and pushes him through another doorway.

INT. KIDS NEED TO READ CHARITY POKER TOURNAMENT

Wray steps into the room. There is a partition next to another make shift stage at the end of a long conference room. The HOST is waiting there.

Wray peeks through the partition.  The room is full of comicon attendees sitting at many round poker tables scattered though out the large room.

No children can be seen.

HOST

Welcome Mr. Nerely. It’s generous of you to join us this evening.

WRAY

Evening?

HOST

Is Jack with you?

WRAY

He’s running late. He asked me to take his seat.

HOST

Oh, that’s too bad.

WRAY

Don’t sound so disappointed.  He’ll be here later on.

HOST

(More upbeat now.) Oh, great news.

WRAY

Where are all the children?

The Host laughs. Bobby joins in. Wray follows suit confused.

HOST

It’s a charity poker tournament for the children, not a poker tournament with the children.

WRAY

(Laughing louder.) Of course.

The Host hands Wray a paper.

HOST

Here are some instructions and your seat assignments.

Bobby leans in to see the paper. He keeps it away from her and tries to stare her down. When he turns back to his paper, it’s gone. He’s no longer holding it. He turns back to find Bobby reading it.

WRAY

How did?

BOBBY

Oh good. You may have your phone at the table with you.

She hands him his phone.

WRAY

What? Again? How do you keep doing that?

He checks all of his pants pockets again.

He snatches the phone and puts it into his shirt pocket this time.

HOST

I’ll introduce you and then you can take your seat.

WRAY

Is it possible for me to just say a few words and then duck out?

HOST

Jack would never “duck out”. He committed to playing in the tournament.

WRAY

But he’s not here.

HOST

But you’re taking his place.

WRAY

I don’t even know how to play poker.

HOST

Please do the best that you can.  And remember, it’s for the children.

WRAY

As I’ve been told.

The Host goes to the mic and the crowd goes quiet.

HOST

Ladies and gentlemen, zombies and superheroes, welcome to the Phoenix Comicon’s 10th Annual Kids Need to Read Charity Poker Tournament.

The crowd claps enthusiastically.

HOST

I’d like to introduce our special guest tonight from Spectrum… The audience hoops and hollars.

HOST

Wray Nerely.

Wray steps out from behind the partition and waves. The crowd goes flat.

HOST

Wray will be sitting in for Jack, but I’ve been assured that Jack will be here later on.

The crowd responds enthusiastically.

Wray checks his paper and heads to his seat. Bobby follows.

WRAY

What am I doing? They don’t even really want me here.

BOBBY

Of course they want you here. They just prefer Jack. Who wouldn’t?

WRAY

Thank you for that.

BOBBY

Just lose quickly.

WRAY

And how do I do that?

BOBBY

Push all your chips in and say, all in.

WRAY

All in what?

BOBBY

No, just all in.

Bobby leaves him.

WRAY

What?

Wray finds his seat between two large WOMEN. There is very little room left for him. He tries to squeeze in.

Both women are more masculine than Wray.

FAT PAT

I don’t think so muchacho.

LARGE MARGE

This seat is reserved for Jack Moore.

WRAY

I’m Wray Nerely.

FAT PAT

We know who you are. Love your work, but this seat’s for Jack.

LARGE MARGE

You’re awesome. Now move on.

WRAY

Wow, I’ve never experienced such hostile adoration. I’m sitting in for Jack.

FAT PAT

What?

LARGE MARGE

You’re kidding?

WRAY

He asked for me to sit in for him.

FAT PAT

We paid good money for these seats.

LARGE MARGE

We donated $500.00

WRAY

It’s for the children!?!

FAT PAT

I’m tempted to ask for half my money back.

Wray squeezes in.

WRAY

At least sitting by me is worth something.

LARGE MARGE

We’ll see.

Wray pushes his chips forward.

WRAY

I’m all in.

DEALER

We haven’t started yet.

WRAY

Just kidding.

He pulls the stacks back in front of him.  Pat and Marge are not laughing.

Wray looks around the table. There is a ZOMBIE, a KLINGON, a SUPERHERO, and an ANIME CHARACTER with a huge cardboard sword.

Directly across the table sits a COWBOY.

WRAY

What are you dressed as? Space Cowboy?

COWBOY

Are you makin’ fun of how I dress?

WRAY

No?

COWBOY

I’m not here for your little Comicon! And I don’t care about your children’s charity. I’m here for one thing and one thing only. The poker. And to win, of course.

WRAY

That’s two things.

COWBOY

So don’t get to attached to your chips, sunshine. They’re mine!

WRAY

You can have them.

COWBOY

That’s right! I will own them.  And yours, and yours, and yours…

Cowboy points around the table.

FAT PAT

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We get it. They’re all yours. We’re all very intimidated.

COWBOY

I’m just saying.

LARGE MARGE

Don’t let him get in your head. He’s all bravado.

COWBOY

Oh, yeah? Cowboy pulls out a little chip and holds it up for all to see.

COWBOY

Does this look like bravado?

WRAY

What is it?

FAT PAT

Last years champion token.

COWBOY

I won last years poker tournament.

WRAY

Congratulations.

COWBOY

So, now you know that I mean it when I say that I’m going to be taking all of your chips.

WRAY

You can have them.

COWBOY

I mean it.

WRAY

So do I.

COWBOY

Do you smell that?

WRAY

Comicon B.O.?

COWBOY

Repeat victory!

The table moans.

A bell suddenly sounds.

HOST

The tournament begins now. Good luck. We have a very special gift for tonight’s champion.

The DEALER deals out two cards per person at the table.

COWBOY

Did you hear that? I’ll get a special gift.

WRAY

Thank you, we heard.

COWBOY

I just don’t want you to forget… I’m taking your chips, and yours, and yours…

FAT PAT

This is going to be a long night!

DEALER

Bet to you Mr. Nerely.

WRAY

Me? Can I go all in now?

DEALER

Do you want to look at your cards first?

WRAY

Not particularly.

DEALER

Okay, then you can place your bet.

Wray pushes all of his chips forward.

WRAY

All chips in.

COWBOY

What?

LARGE MARGE

That shut up Cowboy!

Everyone folds to Cowboy.

COWBOY

What’s your deal actor man?

WRAY

What? Me? I’m giving you my chips.

COWBOY

You’re going in blind?

WRAY

I have no idea what you just said.

FAT PAT

I think he’s scared.

COWBOY

I ain’t scared. Okay, I’ll be your Huckleberry!

WRAY

My what?

LARGE MARGE

Don’t worry, that’s good.

Cowboy pushes all in.

COWBOY

All in.

Everyone else at the table folds.

DEALER

Do you want to go face up? It’s just the two of you now.

COWBOY

Just show us the board.

The Dealer motions to Wray who shrugs. The Dealer flips three cards, an ace, three, and seven.

He burns a card and then flips another card, a three.  Then he burns another card and flips the final card, an ace.

DEALER

Two aces showing.

The Cowboy fidgets nervously.

Wray just sits there looking around. He has no idea what’s going on.

DEALER

Gentlemen, please flip your cards.

They both flip their cards at the same time. Cowboy has a three and a king.

Wray has two aces.

The Cowboy freezes in total shock.

WRAY

(Acting upset) Oh man, I just lost didn’t I? Oh well, good game.

He begins to stand.

FAT PAT

Pocket rockets to four of a kind. Unbelievable.

LARGE MARGE

I’ve never seen anything like it.

The cowboy bursts out crying. Gasping sobs. He runs off.

Wray is mortified.

The Dealer pushes the pot to Wray.

WRAY

What just happened?

FAT PAT

That was awesome! You made that man cry!

LARGE MARGE

I take it back. That was worth every penny I paid for this seat.

Pat and Marge are totally impressed now. They make room for Wray to sit back down more comfortably.

Wray realizes that he’s still in the game and miserably starts stacking his chips.

The girls smile and he weakly smiles back.

INT. MONTAGUE – SAME

The evening progresses. Wray’s chip stacks continue to grow.

He gets more miserable as the night goes on.

INT. KIDS NEED TO READ CHARITY POKER TOURNAMENT – LATER

Jack enters a near empty hall.  Wray and the Host sit alone at the final table.

JACK

I’m here. Where is everyone?

They stand to greet him.

HOST

The tournament is over.

JACK

Where’s the champion?

HOST

The winner of the Phoenix Comicon’s 10th Annual Kids Need to Read Charity Poker Tournament is… Wray Nerely.

Wray waves unenthusiastically.

JACK

What? I told you to lose.

WRAY

I tried.

HOST

Nice of you to bring in a ringer. Early on he became the chip leader and preceded to bully the other participants.

WRAY

I did not.

JACK

I thought you didn’t know how to play?

WRAY

I didn’t. I don’t.

JACK

Then how did you…

WRAY

I’m tired and just want to go home. (To Host) You mentioned a special gift?

HOST

Ah yes, you get this special first place chip and a photo with Jack Moore himself.

WRAY

A photo with Jack?

Jack smiles. The Host gets his camera ready.

HOST

Plus a free seat in next years tournament.

WRAY

No thank you.

JACK

As this years winner, you’re expected to return to defend your title. It’s kind of an obligation.

WRAY

Just keeps getting better.

HOST

Just remember…

WRAY & JACK

It’s for the children!

The flash goes off, as the photo is taken.

END