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 www.imdb.com 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…