CB: “Why I should direct X.” Ha! Loopholes!
It’s funny, because I’ve completed four feature-length screenplays. (Two of which are actually reasonably good. The old adage that everybody has to write at least one shit screenplay before they can write a good one is too generous by half, in my case literally.) But I’ve been notoriously unlucky in Hollywood beating me to the punch.
Fadeaway, for example, was a story about an assassin trying to kill the President of the United States – with the ability to teleport, which he got as a result of an illegal dark-sector government lab experiment. It was basically written around three or four set-pieces using the teleportation to best cinematic effect. Then Bryan Singer includes the “Nightcrawler invades the White House” sequence in X2 and there’s a screenplay that basically becomes obsolete (or at least perceived as a ripoff too greatly to be made for a couple decades) overnight.
More recently, Midnight Men, the story about a world where vampires took over, and which has been a side project I return to whenever I get stalled on something else (it’s about 60 percent done at this point), is now completely unmakeable thanks to Daybreakers, which seriously looks to use maybe eighty-five percent of my story beats. Admittedly, in mine the vampire world was self-sustaining as a result of blood cloning factories, the human resistance operated entirely in secret, and the death of the vampire race was essentially long-term and built-in rather than a scarcity of food supply, but the basic story beats are all there. Which, on the one hand it’s nice that somebody liked the same ideas I liked well enough to get a budget (and come on, Daybreakers looks pretty cool), but on the other hand it’s still annoying.
And of course there’s Al’Rashad, the pseudo-Arabic-meets-Vikingish fantasy epic that was four-fifths finished – on September 10, 2001. (I finished it anyway, but knew it wouldn’t be filmable for years. I need to go back and fix up some parts at some point; looking back at it, you can see where it’s still rough. I wasn’t nearly as seasoned a writer then. Or maybe I’ll turn it into a comic or novel at some point – but it would need reworking. I was really in a visual place for it.)
Anyway, this is getting away from the actual question of “why I should direct X,” but most existing properties I don’t have any interest in making or have already been done. The only existing properties I’d still consider tackling as a writer/director1 are Green Lantern, The Prisoner, and Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (maybe Good Omens, but there is always talk about Terry Gilliam doing that one, and I would dearly love to see that). Besides, knowing that I’m capable of directing – because I’ve done it – is different from wanting to do it. The creative control is glorious; the on-set responsibility, onerous.
- Because there’s a line of people asking me to do both jobs, you see. [↩]