Wednesday 30 September 2009

How to get into the movie business, part 2

I've been hoping the Surrogates movie will do well for the sake of my pals at Top Shelf Productions. I see it came in second in the box office tally for the weekend, taking fifteen million, beaten by the animated Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. Top Shelf acquired a great deal of experience in shifting books with a movie tie-in after From Hell back in 2001. In fact it was shortly after then that I gave up my self-publishing operation, feeling that I wasn't paying enough attention to complicated market fluctuations and that Chris Staros was handling those issues much better than I could. Our bookstore distributor had just gone bust owing us collectively around 80 thousand dollars, a very large amount of which was From Hell revenue. Me, I went up the pub and cried into a beer, but Chris got online immediately with a perfectly timed appeal which basically said, "if you were ever thinking about buying one of our books, please do it now, thank you. And here are all our extra special offers..." The response was unbelievable, and Top Shelf was able to continue doing business. I still had froth on my nose when university-educated Rob Venditti realized Chris was going to need extra hands and talked himself into a job as a box-packer:
I had no idea what their line was all about. In 2002, I was very ignorant of what there was out there in comics. I just ended up working for them because I live in Atlanta and that’s where they are. I was trying to get into the industry and trying to find any way to do it, and they were a publisher that was close by. I called Chris up, told him I was a local guy, and asked him if there’s anything I could do to sort of help him out. He said, "I could really use someone to pack boxes" and I said "Yeah, no problem, I can do that." It was very much like you said, the company really was kind of saved overnight. So that was when I got my start with them.

Well, Top Shelf was a pretty small operation at the time, I was the first employee they’d ever had. So even though I started out packing boxes in a warehouse it quickly developed into a job that encompassed other things because, with so few people working at the company, everybody sort of had to be a jack of all trades.
So I was branching out, doing other things, and Chris Staros had known from my discussions with him that I had wanted to be a writer, and we would drive to conventions, and talk about ideas, and whatnot. And I had already been writing The Surrogates when I drove to a convention with him, in July of 2002, when I told him about the idea, and he was very intrigued by it. I could tell that he liked the idea just by the way that he was asking me questions about it - you know, "what is this" and "what is that". He was really getting excited about it. So as I was writing the script, I would turn it over to him, and he would read through it, and he was always very supportive. But he didn’t say he was going to publish it until the thing was entirely written and he saw that I was able to bring the whole thing over the transom.
At that point he decided to publish it. Up till that point, I was just having him look it over, as a way of tightening it up where it needed to be tightened up, and hopefully he would introduce me to other editors, and help me submit it around.
That's from the interview at Broken Frontier, continuing in parts this week. Lots more at the link. Ane there's more at DVDs Worth Watching:
ROBERT VENDITTI: It started with a producer named Max Handelman, who contacted me about the film rights for The Surrogates back in 2006. Both I and Chris Staros at Top Shelf liked Max, and so we decided to let him shop it around. Max ended up bringing in Todd Lieberman and David Hoberman at Mandeville Films, a production company that has its first-look deal at Disney. They put a package together that included the screenwriters and Jonathan Mostow as director, and then made their pitch to Disney. Disney liked what they heard and decided to move forward under their Touchstone label.



Blogger Unknown said...

Surrogates movie I saw was great. But of course there are some scenes made me boring such as poor actions of Bruce Willis. It seems he has best suit for comedy. i have never read book which based to this movie. I think it will much interesting than movie.


30 September 2009 at 23:58:00 GMT-5  
Blogger Nino said...

Hola, Eddie:
I´ve just seen The Surrogates this thuesday, although I paid more attention to my flame than to the film (in fact I love to see the way things reflect in her blue eyes) I liked what I saw of the film I must admit I'm a die-hard Bruce Wills' fan, and I loved the five-issue story by Vendetti y Weldele.
On the other hand, by admiting out and loud your thankfulness To Chris Staros, you make it clear your humanity is even gigger and thicker than your latest bok!
Cuídate, amigo, y besos a Ana!

1 October 2009 at 09:41:00 GMT-5  
Blogger TheMaleExperience said...

Saw it.

I'm sorry to say that I don't feel they did it justice at all. Seems like some studio meddling there, and it was a poor choice of director. They turned it into your standard scifi-thriller with poor pacing. I do hope it does well for Top Shelf and the authors' sakes, but I'm seeing why Moore hates Hollywood. The material is at the mercy of whatever hackneyed screenplay writer they think will give them a this case the writers of such pinnacles of mediocrity as Terminator: Salvation, Terminator 3 and Catwoman.

12 October 2009 at 23:30:00 GMT-5  

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