Redemption: Sooner or later, everybody wants a shot…

Kind of a bittersweet day today. Billy and I took down the last of the flats built for the REDEMPTION project, and this was a corner we multi-purposed for the re-shoot of the introduction to the Making Of… documentary for THE BUNKER. I gotta tell you, boy did we get our money’s worth out of this set.

REDEMPTION, for those of you who don’t know, is my new short film, a remake of the twice-produced TV pilot based on my short story, Chance Meeting. Why, you ask, would I remake a short that’s already been done twice? Quite simple, really. The two previous versions (only slightly different) both suck. I won’t rehash the whole story concerning the original production, but two well-known Asian production companies hired a guy out of California to produce a TV pilot for the foreign market, starring one of their hot supermodels, a young Japanese girl named Matsuo. This filmmaker apparently couldn’t sell the foreign producers on one of his own properties, so he called me up in the middle of the night, gave me 6 hours, and asked me to write up pitches for six of my own properties. Chance Meeting was the sixth, a throwaway (or so I thought), because the story takes place in real-time in about 6 minutes, with two characters, in an elevator. Not exactly something that jumps out at you as visually gripping, right? Well, as luck would have it, that’s the one they wanted, and I got hired to write the script. I expanded the plot a little, manufactured spots to amp up the tension, added some characters and locations, and bingo, we had a teleplay with some potential.

So, it gets shot, I hear nothing but nightmare stories about the production from the director, and shortly after its completion, the producers decided to dump it as a TV property and just release it as a one-shot on DVD. After this, it appears, they cut ties with this guy. Or at least, that’s what he told me. What the truth is, who can say? All I know is, I never got a response when I tried contacting them to get some DVDs and a copy of the photo book they put out, so I just chalked it up to a bad experience. Every newbie screenwriter has ‘em, after all. Oh well, so be it. It was my first true pitch, my first true option, and even though I never got paid, it looks nice on IMDB. Afterward, same filmmaker decides he wants to shoot a wraparound, repackage the short to pitch as a TV show for the N. American audience, and so I do some more writing, add another couple of scenes, add two new characters, and voila, the second production of my pilot gets done, and is picked up as a series for the Global Broadcast Company.

Surprise, surprise, this deal also goes nowhere. By now, I’ve cut this ‘filmmaker’ out of my life, so I don’t even know what killed the series. The way it looks to me, the producer/director either couldn’t produce enough episodes, or secure enough sponsors for the show, so it never aired. Global Broadcasting didn’t much want to discuss the show when I contacted them, it had just been “Taken off the schedule at the present time.” Hmnnn. That was a couple years ago.

So, clearly, even though the production value on the pilot was lousy, and the male and female leads were terrible, something about the concept seemed to interest people. Last summer, Pam and I were discussing what I should tackle next, as we’d secured a distribution deal for my feature, and I was itching to get going on a new film project. It was her idea to finally shoot Chance Meeting the way it should have been shot in the first place. With real locations, quality sets (the elevator in the first set, according to a pro in the elevator business, is, “The worst phony elevator I’ve ever seen,” and take care of some of the lousy detail work. We’d eliminate the reprehensibly unbelievable blind guy ( a part I’d written in for my own cameo, but wasn’t available to shoot), and fix the continuity errors that plague the first adaptation. Even the props in the original are utter crap. The series figurehead is supposed to hunt her prey through the sex ads in the LA Weekly. But no phony newspaper ad was created. Instead, the character is carrying around some printer sheets and it isn’t clear even if there’s printing on them. There’s a spot for photo cut-ins—a very simple effect to pull off in Final Cut Pro—but though the still photos were shot and available, they were never used. Little things like that all added up, and the end result was a decent concept, butchered in production.

REDEMPTION ain’t bad. In comparison? It’s not even close. We recently completed the festival edit, and we’ll be entering it into some local fests early next year. While it isn’t perfect (trust me, the original was shot on a budget of roughly $25,000, mine was shot for about $2,500), I’m still quite proud of it. And, it introduces a character of mine from back in the comic book days that never made it into a book, only an art print offered as a premium with one of my old titles.

It feels good to have reclaimed my property, to have done something with it that I’m not embarrassed about, and which I can now show off to people. I already have an IPTV opportunity for it. I’d like to shoot another episode or two first, maybe get it ready for a release sometime in 2013. But if not, I’ll soon be doing something with it. Maybe hooking up with some filmmakers I’ve gotten friendly with and turning it into part of an anthology feature. That’d be cool. Or getting at least another half hour episode done and releasing it dirt-cheap for download-only and print them on demand for the hardcore DVDphiles out there. Not something I’m too concerned about right now, with a novel doing well on Kindle and a new zombie anthology coming out in a few weeks.

Want a shot at REDEMPTION? Sign up for the reserve list, and when it comes out, you’ll be notified. Doesn’t cost you anything and you won’t get spammed, just updated on its progress:

If you’re interested in checking out my recently-released mystery novel, Torn to Pieces, here’s where you can go for that:

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Currently listening to: Blood for Poppies by GARBAGE

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