March 4, 2011

SOUL KEEPER: A History of Horror

PART TWO: Book to Film

Question: How did a little-known short story like SOUL KEEPER make it to the screen?

Answer: Coincidence after coincidence.

Here is the Reader's Digest version:

After the short story vanished following its appearance in Lovecrafts' Legacy (1990), it remained buried until 2009 when I decided to collect my short fiction in a little book called NOT YET DEAD. With the help of my artist/designer friend Cayetano Garza Jr. ( we had the book all ready to go just in time for Hallowe'en.

Local filmmaker Michael Fisher picked up a copy, and that was that for a few months.

(Director of Photography Michael Fisher on the set of Soul Keeper)

Around March, 2010 I got a note from Actor/producer/filmmaker Andy Butterfield, asking if I'd be interested in having SOUL KEEPER made into a movie. Apparently Michael Fisher had passed his copy of the book along to Andy and his associates.

Subsequently, I had a meeting at The Daily Planet with Andy, Director Tim Joy and screenwriters Jon Oliver and Ben Hardy (who, for brevity, I'll refer to as Oliver Hardy). The chemistry was good, and we decided to move ahead.

Before I knew it (4-11-10), I had the first draft of their screenplay in hand!

I did some work on the first few drafts because what was essentially my printed material had to find its feet as a visual experience. For me this was a great exercise in the whole mystery of book to movie transformation.

They even offered me the part of the TV preacher. Good sense overcame vanity and I turned it down, saying, "I look too much like the crazy old prophet. I think you want some sort of clean cut fresh faced Bible-spewing nutjob behind the pulpit. Someone all middle Americans, tea-baggers, and Republicans in general can love. That ain't me."

The script went through many drafts and at some point I extracted myself from the writing team thinking the best way to guarantee this project's success would be for me to keep as far away from it as possible.

Enter Tim Kavanagh as producer. Tim's day job is with WCAX, but he has his own production company and is also a talanted actor. Perhaps he is best known for immortalizing the role of Homer J. Simpson in Vermont's entry in the Simpson's Springfield Contest. Also for his TV show, "Late Night with Tim Kavanagh". In fact, that's how Tim and I first met.


With Tim guiding the fundraising the project was soon on safe ground. (And Tim undertook the role of the TV Preacher. After all, he has TV experience.)

For me this has been a great experience. Although I've had several books under film option since I began publishing in 1987, not one of them has made it to the screen. But a young man's dream has become an old man's reality: my story will soon become a movie. It will be made in Vermont, by Vermonters. And a very talented bunch they are!

Here's a special tip of the hat to Michael Fisher, who lit the fuse on what is guaranteed not to be a bomb.


A few more photos from the set. . .

Make-up artist Rebecca Reil wounds Andy's foot.

Co-star Paul Schnabel waits for his scene. Looks like a nice guy here, doesn't he?

Two directors, Tim Joy
and Michael Fisher (DP)Tim Joy (everything's under control)