Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Marcus Responds

On Friday, I wrote a blog article "My Dinner With Marcus" about Friday The 13th director Marcus Nispel and the moment I realized that in order to get the job writing his upcoming project, Subterranean (aka Pod), I would have to eat a sandwich of blood sausage and sliced tongue.

This morning Marcus, who is shooting a commercial in Mexico, responded:

Just read your blog about me feeding you tongue sandwich. Hilarious! I can see how that might strike you as unusual. I'm actually in mexico right now sampling some local cuisine...

Maggots, grasshoppers and ants!

I suppose this is how he celebrates when his movies are number one at the box office (Friday The 13th made 55 million worldwide). If Conan The Barbarian enjoys the same kind of success, I will certainly join him.

Friday, February 13, 2009

My Dinner With Marcus

The director of Friday the 13th makes me a sandwich.

I’m sitting in the beachfront Malibu home of infamous German director Marcus Nispel (Friday the 13, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), hoping to convince him to pick me as a writer on his next horror film, Subterranean. Unlike the remakes he is famous for, Subterranean (aka "Pod") is based upon his original idea, and Marcus is being very picky about who is going re-write the script. In the middle of our heated debate about whether or not more exposition could have improved the original “Alien,” Marcus abruptly goes to the kitchen to make sandwiches. When he returns, I realize that if I eat the sandwich I will probably get the job, and if I don’t, I probably will not.

The sandwich is made of blood sausage and sliced tongue.

One of the never ending challenges of being a screenwriter is the necessity of collaboration. In the past, my collaborators have asked me to write startlingly ridiculous and insipid things. They have asked me to write about puritan ghosts who haunt freshman dorms. They have asked for nurses to take showers in asylums at midnight. They have concocted “satanic, chollo, midget priests” and “goats with shark teeth.” They have changed my male protagonists into lesbians and my heroines into werewolves.

It’s my job to eat the sandwich.

Before this meeting, I was told to prepare myself for the worst. Marcus, they said, is difficult to collaborate with. His mind jumps quickly from one idea to another, one inspiration to the next, and often these bursts of insight seem confusing and contradictory. His insistence on managing minute and seemingly irrelevant details, has given him the reputation of being eccentric and even crazy. But as I sit there, watching his eyes grow wide with excitement as he recounts his favorite scene from The Thing, I can’t help thinking, “is this man any more insane than the other genuinely creative people I know?”

Is he crazier than the artists I knew who would build found-object sculpture out of rubber ducks? Is he crazier than the mathematicians I knew who would wouldn’t eat or sleep until their proofs were not just correct… but “elegant?” Is he crazier than my friend the Prop Master, who spends hours in his garage designing and constructing absurd, robotic “inventions.” Is he crazier than my own father, rising every morning at 6 AM to do the same mouthpiece drills he practiced at age 11?

Is he any less sane than me?

No, in fact, his rants and inspirations feel frighteningly familiar. So I take a second look at the sandwich, the thinly sliced meat, and decide that I am actually sort of hungry. I take a bite, and realize that blood sausage and sliced tongue may sound like a horror film, but it actually tastes more like bologna.

So as we take out the script for Subterranean, and as we outline sequences, flesh out characters, and argue over dialogue, I eat the sandwich. I eat every last bite. And when I am done, I politely ask for another. I do NOT eat it just to humor him. As it turns out, he couldn’t care less whether or not I eat the sandwich. I eat it because I want to.

Because it tasted good.

P.S. And yes, I got the job.

You can read Marcus Nispel's response to this blog here.

For other Genre Hacks stories try reading these posts:

How NOT to Pitch A Studio

Why YOU should write Stigmata 3

Just Listen (A love letter to cinema sound)