Archive for July 2011

The Continuing Adventures of Pineapple Man

July 6, 2011

Actually, “Pineapple Man” is the comic book creation of Sam Campos, an artist in Hawaii. I read about him in the local paper a few years ago, and had wanted to meet him for a couple of reasons: he was friends with Jason Scott Lee, an actor I envisioned as the meth-addicted murder suspect — and possible curse victim — in my INUGAMI Japanese werewolf script; and Sam was doing storyboard work on Hollywood movies. I thought maybe we could help each other with our mutual contacts, and perhaps collaborate on projects right here in Hawaii. But he went to L.A. for awhile and I wasn’t able to connect with him.

What brought us together recently was the Amazon Studio contest. He had been shooting/editing a no-budget superhero television pilot on his own, when he heard about the Amazon deal and considered entering his project because there was big prize money being offered. I happened to be looking for a storyboard artist to turn INUGAMI into a “test movie” for the AS contest, since that’s what they really seem to be looking for. That gave me an excuse to email Sam, and next thing you know we’re having coffee in Kailua and talking about our respective experiences with various managers and producers in Hollywood. In fact, he has kept his L.A. phone number because he says it’s hard to get movie work if they know you reside elsewhere.

After I explained to him that Amazon has some pretty restrictive conditions for test movie submissions, Sam realized he didn’t want to tie up his TV pilot project in their contest. But he was very interested in doing the art work for INUGAMI and my Amish horror spec, SNALLYGASTER, which made the Amazon Top 50 monthly semifinals list twice. As it happens, I’m in the process of adapting SNALLY into an ebook format for Ed Gray’s Aisle Seat Books venture, which was another Amazon Studios-related connection. Ed’s concept is to turn good screenplays into good ebook reads that retain the best elements of a page-turning script — but in a prose format that’s easier on the average reader. You won’t see large blocks of narrative or internal thoughts. The emphasis will be on action and dialogue, just as it is with most movies. Will there be a market for these script novelizations? I have no idea. I’m willing to take a shot at it though.

Sam’s approach to storyboarding is to first ask the writer to choose three key scenes that contain the best visuals you’d want to see on the big screen — sort of like a movie trailer. He also asked me to list actors I’d like to cast in starring roles so he had a clearer idea of the characters he was going to draw. Doing both exercises helped me see my own movie in sharper detail as well. Try it with your own script or book manuscript. It might change the way you view (or pitch) your story.

For the SNALLY ebook, I asked him to give me a quote on doing the cover art work. He started reading the script and emailed me to say how much he liked the writing, and that he could really see it as a movie… a big compliment since he’s worked on Hollywood productions before. His price was very reasonable too, so I told him he’s hired. Now I just have to adapt my script to meet Ed Gray’s guidelines. Oh, and the reason I decided to chance it with Ed is that he got Amazon Studio’s endorsement for adapting AS script entries into ebooks. They even said they’ll help promote the ebooks, which is no small thing. Will I make any money from this publishing experiment? Who knows. But I’m sure it will get more attention than if I tried to self-publish my script adaptations.

More importantly, the Amazon Studios contest experience has kicked my ass into another gear. I’m not just sitting around waiting to hear back from managers or producers or contests. I’m taking numbers, meeting with professionals in the TV and film biz here in Hawaii, and trying to make something happen on my own. And I’ve gotten more results in the past couple of months than I did in two years while being repped by a semi-famous manager. So bad-mouth Amazon or other screenwriting contests all you want… it still comes down to what you do to promote yourself, and your work.

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