Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Assumptions... Murphy’s Law… Intuition… Instinct… and Errol Flynn Part 2

Remembering moments that help you and the people around you grow as human beings…

The story below concludes Patrick’s experiences while researching, learning, making mistakes, feeling, practicing and moving on.

It is difficult to describe the feeling you get when you step into a home with a history – a checkered one at that, where the initial owner was a shady stock promoter and his guest, in the final stages of life, was none other than Errol Flynn.

Patrick has always been fascinated by Errol Flynn, and even more so by his sudden death in Vancouver over fifty years ago.

In the fall of 1959, West Vancouver businessman George Caldough hosted the Hollywood legend and the actor’s 17 year old girlfriend in his home, located at 1026 Eyremount Drive.

While in Vancouver, for what was only supposed to be a few days, Caldough paraded Flynn around to various hot spots to “be seen” – and in between, Errol’s condition was worsening. The compounding effects of a slipped disc and rapidly failing organs (helped along by copious amounts of vodka and heroin) caused Flynn to suffer greatly, and often during the visit, he would need to lie in bed at the Caldough house – sweating profusely yet shivering at the same time.

On October 14, 1959, Flynn, en route to the airport, dropped dead of a heart attack in the penthouse apartment of a doctor who was trying to treat him and a couple of years later Caldough was convicted of stock fraud and sent to jail for 6 years.

The house on Eyremount was occupied by a number of families over the years since then, and until recently, was very much intact.

Reading about something is not good enough, and seeing as though Patrick was researching and trying to develop a film based on these last days, paying a visit to the house was definitely in order.

Patrick actually spent time at the house many times over several years, mostly peeking through the windows at empty spaces and eventually was able to actually shot some re-enactment scenes of Flynn’s last moments prior to leaving for the airport.

Patrick found himself spending even more time there, as it was in the last stages of demolition. Needing to take even more detailed notes about the house before it was gone forever, Patrick would stop by from time to time, wandering through the door-less entrance and stepping over the broken bits of drywall and glass.

Leading up to Halloween, Patrick would stop by the house every single day, but each time he felt a little unsure of his surroundings: the feeling in his stomach was sending him many different signals.

Doors swinging open and shut (he was sure it was the wind) was enough to cause me to exit the scene rather quickly.

Patrick’s trouble is, however, that curiosity would get the better of him and draw him back to the house – over and over again…

This time, Patrick was not going to the house alone…

The first person Patrick decided to bring along was a professional photographer – someone to help record the last images of the house. She did her best, snapped some great images, but couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there. She admitted to feeling sick and chilled to the bone.

Chilled to the bone Patrick thought…

That was something I too had started to feel every visit…

An unusual coldness inside the house, even when the weather was rather warm outside.

Patrick continued to ask others to come to the house with him…

Maybe, this was because he wanted to confirm his own beliefs that there was something unusual going on…

Patrick states that he is not terribly spiritual, or rather, he wasn’t before these visits.

There was definitely something unusual in the house on Eyremount Drive, and Patrick wanted to get second, third and even fourth opinions.

Every single time, the reactions were consistent – the place was otherworldly. Everyone felt the gut wrenching feeling, the cold, the “bad air” as some described it.

Patrick mentioned his research exploits to his co-producer on A Century of November Nicolas Awde, and if you know Nick, he never comes across as someone who is easily shaken.

At the end of Nick and Patrick’s work day, (Halloween), Nick agreed to come up to the house to check it out. We wandered through the house, and Nick was observing the conditions of the house – the piles of broken gyprock, the skeletal remains of the framework, the appliances carelessly dumped over the balcony and into the swimming pool, now filled with murky water. Nick even noticed a double sink in good condition that he might like to take home with him.

Patrick escorted Nick downstairs, exploring darkened rooms, cold and empty fireplaces, scattered documents – and then around the deck of the pool. And then - it started to get to Nick. The chill. The air. The damp and the dark. The gut instincts that tell you to get out while you can.

Pretty soon, that newish double sink wasn’t so attractive, and the need to exit the building intensified and before we knew it, we were heading for the vehicle. Enough was enough. And the experience was disturbing enough that Nick didn’t seem interested in discussing the house again.

Today, there is simply rubble that remains where this house sat for fifty years. The pain and suffering that film legend Errol Flynn endured during his last days on earth can only be left to the imagination. Who knows if others had suffered behind those walls since?
Who knows if others who had lived in that house over five decades had strange feelings about the house?

Patrick had heard one story, from a realtor, that the wife of a very recent owner refused to allow her husband to build their new home on the site because she didn’t feel right about the existing house when she entered. She even forced him to sell it.

Patrick imagines that this property, with the million-dollar view of the entire City of Vancouver will see an opulent mansion built upon it. He can only hope, for the new owner’s sake, that the cold and sickening feelings that everyone shared within those walls, crumbled away with each crushing blow off the backhoe that knocked the original structure down…

Remembering moments like these help you and the people around you grow as human beings…

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Reflecting on a moment: First studio recording;

Created throughout the development of A Century of November, the company decided to storyboard some images, to produce an animated presentation based on the reviews of the novel A Century of November.

This was one of the first concepts completed to build a visual foundation on story and characters.

Everything was completed throughout one day in a recording studio. Many days of research and prep were involved in gathering all the elements to make it happen.

Studio time started with an amazing individual who is dedicated to carrying on the art and tradition of Morse Code. Her name is Lavina Shaw of the Morse Telegraph Club. The telegraph clicking sounds accurately depict all the words appearing in the animated presentation.

The Studio recording session concluded with the very talented violinist & songwriter Susie Mares Suzka Music playing various connecting tones and themes off words and images.

The final words chosen, were from the novel;

A haunting story, of the power and death, the pain of loss with the possibility of hope during a time of war.

A Century of November Conceptual Animated Presentation

Monday, December 7, 2015

Assumptions... Murphy’s Law… Intuition… Instinct… and Errol Flynn Part 1

Remembering moments that help you and the people around you grow as human beings…

Assumptions... Murphy’s Law… Intuition… Instinct… all go hand in hand, they can be challenging to differentiate between one another. Learning, making mistakes, feeling, practicing and moving on.

There is truth in the what it is said about the word “assume”, making an ass out of “u” and “me”...

It happens every day in life with the little things, and sometimes can affect decisions that can have tremendous impacts on your daily life.

The story of signing Jay Wolpert to write the script for A Century of November falls in this category.

Patrick assumed that the novel he sent to the agent at Paradigm, would be tossed or would never find its way into Jay’s hands. Patrick simply believed that any material not represented by an agent, lawyer or manager would ever get to someone like Jay, regardless of its virtue.

Thanks to some friendly persuasion by Nick, Patrick eventually wrote a little note, slipped it inside a copy of the novel, and sent it to Paradigm…

The rest as they say has become history…

Even after that lesson, Patrick continued to fall back into the same thought patterns.

Patrick’s research on another passion project regarding Errol Flynn’s last days, was looking for individuals to interview, who may have spent time with the ailing actor during the last week of his life in Vancouver. The trouble is that it was fifty years ago, and many of the people involved in the story are either dead or extremely old.

While trying to acquire all of the details about Flynn, Patrick managed to get to know something of the other people who were with Flynn at this time.

There was George Caldough, who hosted Flynn and was poised to purchase the actor’s yacht. Patrick’s research turned up that Caldough died of a heart attack at age 50 back in 1978.

There is Beverly Aadland, who was Flynn’s 17 year old protege. He died in her arms in a West End apartment of Dr. Grant Gould. She is still alive, but is very private and doesn’t necessarily want to be bothered again (she has recently been interviewed for an Australian documentary entitled “Tasmanian Devil: The Fast and Furious Life of Errol Flynn”, and is in talks with HBO regarding a film based on her romance with the actor).

Then there is Dr. Grant Gould. He tried to save Errol, but to no avail. It was his apartment that Flynn died in. What are the chances that he is still alive?

Patrick’s extensive research over many years turned up nothing. Until now…

Patrick believed that Dr. Grant Gould was also gone. Patrick dug some more and wanted to write an article, with credibility. More research, phone calls and finally struck gold.

To Patrick’s delight, Dr. Gould was still alive and well and still practices medicine, despite being semi-retired and he is the answer to many questions Patrick’s had about the true details regarding Flynn’s death.

From this point forward Patrick’s new mantra, was to consider looking at all sides, exhaust all possibilities, before jumping to conclusions.

True success will come from turning over every single rock.

To be concluded…

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Day to Always Remember...

Inspiration can be found anywhere…

Nicolas Awde recently reflected on an inspirational moment while searching through some reference materials and old newspapers that contained elements relative to the story of A Century of November.

Upon opening one of the newspapers there was a photo of a child running to his father. This reminded him of growing up with his Grandfather (WW2 Vet).

After reading the article he felt compelled to call his Grandfather and thank him.

His Grandfather replied "thank me for what?" 

Nicolas said "thank you for giving me the opportunity to be able to live the life I have and become the human being I am today". He questioned further, "what do you mean?" Nicolas answered, "If it wasn't for people like you that sacrificed their lives so that others didn’t have to in the way that you did… again… thank you for all that you are and all that you have done".

This story below continues to inspire A Century of November…

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Last Canadian Soldier of The Great War...

Remembering how human beings can endure…

When Patrick heard that Jack Babcock, 107 years old, had become the last surviving Canadian soldier from the First World War and that he lived mere hours away from Vancouver in the eastern Washington city of Spokane, Patrick knew he had to meet him. An incredible opportunity for anybody to actually speak to someone who was there – a young soldier caught up in the excitement of defending his country, over 90 years ago.

Numerous articles had been written about our country’s last soldier after the death of the only other surviving Canadian veteran, Dwight Wilson – and although there was a lot of information to go on, Patrick wanted to hear it from the man himself.

Jack, although he tried, never made it to the front lines and in turn, managed to live another 9 decades. Destiny diverted him from battle and allowed him time to find the girl he would start a family with, have a career, serve in another country’s Army, and be a witness to history of the 20th century as it unfolded.

Patrick, simply found Jack’s home number, and called.

“Make sure you bring along your wife and baby.” Babcock’s second wife, Dot, sounded enthusiastic about the visit with Patrick.

Developing a feature film on this scale involves so much research, listening, learning, hearing stories first hand. Jack and his wife loved the idea of a social scenario, nothing formal: not a structured interview, simply conversation. They had recently been bombarded by multiple interviews from newspapers across Canada, so it was well understood.

Patrick drove down to Spokane with his family on a Sunday afternoon and they arrived at the neatly kept bungalow after a lengthy journey (multiple pit stops), and they were warmly welcomed into Jack and Dot’s home.

Jack was positioned in the middle of the sofa, while Dot sat off to one side. Jack was definitely not slight – thick white hair & solid as a rock with hands that enveloped Patrick’s hand in a handshake.

Jack and Dot have cats, which were an immediate distraction for Patrick’s son Kieran, and although watching Kieran chase the cats around the living room was definitely entertaining, Jack came back to Patrick’s various questions. Patrick wanted to be spontaneous and enjoy the moment, not worried about “getting the good stuff”. The meeting was fantastic with much additional insight gained into remembering how human beings can endure…

Life is amazing…

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Two Special Days...

Reflecting on two Special Days…

It is almost a year since Nicolas Awde & Patrick Stark (Producers) signed Hollywood screenwriter Jay Wolpert (Pirates of the Caribbean / The Count of Monte Cristo) to write the film adaptation based on the highly acclaimed novel by award winning American Author W.D. Wetherell’s A Century of November.

Screenwriter and executive producer Jay Wolpert spent an action-packed two days in Vancouver to meet with Nick and Patrick to go over script and story points. The schedule was tight, but Nick, Patrick and Pacific Empire Corporation managed to pull it off without a hitch.

Jay was in for a busy two days: not long after being picked up from the airport he was whisked away in Company’s 1969 Cadillac Fleetwood Limo and delivered to his hotel. Before long, Jay, Nick and Patrick were immersed in a 5 hour script and story meeting.

From there, Jay was transported to the Blink Media Works studios where he was interviewed (for a special presentation piece Nick and Patrick assembed for the project) by local EPK/Field Producer Marian Dodd (Entertainment Tonight), where Jay discussed the process of adapting A Century of November as well as regaling those ‘behind-the-scenes’ stories of his life and career in Hollywood.

Research is key to staying true to the authenticity of the film and the ‘when’ and ‘where’ the story takes place – so at Jay’s request, Nick and Patrick discovered an apple orchard to visit on Vancouver Island, very close to where our protagonist, Charles Marden made his home, and from where his journey half way around the world to find the exact spot his son fell, began.

It was a brutally early start to the next day in an effort to catch the 6:30AM ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver to Nanaimo’s Departure Bay: once they journeyed across the strait began, they quickly lost track of the time. The voyage from Vancouver to the apple orchard became a tremendous opportunity for all of them to simply converse, break bread together and further solidify their plans to continue to develop the feature film A Century of November.

After a brief but informative stop by Nanaimo’s century-old courthouse, they drove 45 minutes south to the Merridale Estate Cidery, one of the largest of its kind in North America. Everybody involved was thrilled to be able to stroll through the orchard consisting of numerous varieties of cider apple trees, all from Europe and to take in the same air our characters would have breathed, experiencing life as they may have experienced it.

After some cider sampling, they drove back to Nanaimo in time to catch a 12:30 ferry back to the mainland and straight to the airport to conclude Jay’s two Special Days…

Another step forward in their journey from novel to script to screen…

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Journey of a Lifetime Part 1

To look forward is to always remember where we came from and how we came to be where we are today.

Reflecting on this Journey of a Lifetime;

It is nearly five months since Nicolas Awde & Patrick Stark (Producers) signed Hollywood screenwriter Jay Wolpert (Pirates of the Caribbean / The Count of Monte Cristo) to write the film adaptation based on the highly acclaimed novel by award winning American Author W.D. Wetherell’s A Century of November.

Sometimes it’s difficult to take that first step, especially when you are shooting for the stars. When you consider dealing with a commercially successful writer who has helped create one of the largest and most successful box office franchises in film history, that task can seem daunting.

It’s been said that’s it’s not real until you sign on the dotted line, or until you can feel the script in your hands, the idea of making a feature film at this level still seems like a dream.

Where does it all begin to make a feature film? Story and Characters

First, Patrick found the source material that was all about a beautiful Story filled with rich Characters, a novel entitled A Century of November.

Where would a parent’s love for a child end…

Gone with the Wind Meets Saving Private Ryan

It is a story set on the canvas nearing the end of the First World War, of a father who receives word that his only son has been declared “killed/missing”. Leaving his home and peaceful life behind him, journey’s halfway around the world through extraordinary situations to lay to rest any chance that his son was coming home.

The story of any parent whose loved one(s) have journeyed half way around the world, to fight in a dangerous conflict for their country transcends time and even though the novel is set in the past, the story holds many contemporary values of today.

Second, Nick & Patrick secured the option on the novel, giving them the exclusive right to develop the novel into a feature film. This process took about six months and the experience was tremendously rewarding in so many ways.

Nick & Patrick received the blessings from Mary Bisbee-Beek, (Director of Trade Marketing, Publicity and Foreign Rights at University of Michigan Press), and the tremendously talented author, W.D. Wetherell.

Nick & Patrick asked each other what movie, adapted from a novel in recent years, impressed them the most.

Almost simultaneously, they said The Count of Monte Cristo.

Not knowing who the screenwriter was, they quickly looked it up on to discover that Jay Wolpert not only wrote the adaptation to The Count of Monte Cristo, but he was the first screenwriter hired to adapt Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.

Patrick, having worked in the film industry a long time felt realistic on how Hollywood works, he practically threw up his hands, saying “Forget it; we’ll never get a guy like that to write this script.”
Nick, the eternal optimist, however, has a different way of looking at things and simply suggested sending Jay’s agent the novel. After much prodding, Patrick finally surrendered and sent a FedEx package that included the novel and a small typed letter to Jay inserted inside to Rich Freeman at Paradigm.

When Nick & Patrick sent the novel out to their first choice screenwriter Jay Wolpert to adapt it into a screenplay. They sent the novel to his agent Rich Freeman, they weren’t sure what to expect. Would Jay get the novel or even read it? The reality of this, is that Jay did receive the novel, read it and fortunately loved it as much as Nick & Patrick did. Thank you Rich!

The next step for them, was to move on with an out of sight and out of mind attitude. In the meantime, they continued to pursue many other leads for potential screenwriters, but they could never quite find the right fit for adapting the novel.

Months later, out of the blue, Patrick received a call on his cell phone.

“Patrick? This is Jay Wolpert…Thank you so much for your letter, and I read the book. I loved it. But there’s not a hope in hell that I can adapt this into a script for you. I’m way too busy, and quite frankly, I’m sure you can’t afford me.”
All Patrick could think of was, “Holy shit”. Jay Wolpert is on the phone, he read the book, and he loves it.” The rest of the stuff about not having any time and that we couldn’t afford his rate, etc. seemed to be blocked from his brain. All he could think of to say was, “That’s encouraging.” Jay replied “what do you mean that’s encouraging, I just told you that I can’t do it”. Patrick said “you said you loved the book”

Patrick called Nick immediately.

The fact was, at this moment, they were convinced: A Century of November is gold.

Jay’s call encouraged them to really get to work. They thought that if he likes the book, then other top Hollywood screenwriters would too.

Fortunately for them, before any others could respond, Jay called back, saying that he couldn’t stop thinking about the book, but was still too busy to tackle this project. He also mentioned that if some of his pressing assignments started to clear up, maybe he could consider talking about an adaptation.
Jay also suggested that Nick & Patrick come up with a potential offer, something Jay wouldn’t normally receive from a studio.

They started to think and started to get excited. 


Another month later, Jay called once again. “My slate is clean. Let’s negotiate.”

Nick & Patrick came up with the beginnings of a screenwriter deal and Jay flew to Vancouver to meet with them.

Although this meeting was of great importance, Nick had a previous engagement he could not break or reschedule, so Patrick met with Jay.

The meeting was a tremendous success, as they discussed creative story points and what needed to happen to negotiate successfully.

Although it took nearly 10 agonizing months, Nick & Patrick worked out a viable partnership.

Jay signed on to write the adaptation to A Century of November and signed on as an Executive Producer to the film project.

There are some moments from their story that help illustrate that nothing’s impossible: respectful persistence, drive, determination, heart, passion and a never give up attitude is everything.

They have recognized their opportunity.

A Century of November is born...  

Development endures to the next stage…

A Journey of a Lifetime continues…