I got a news article link from a producer friend last night. Peter Block. I worked for him ages ago at Lionsgate,
and we’ve become great friends outside of that place. My history at Lionsgate will take multiple posts to convey the sheer madness of things. But back to this particular article.
In 2003 I was the VP of Worldwide DVD Production at Lionsgate. For those of you that are unaware, DVD is a digital media source that first went to market in 1997 and was a huge component of movie studios’ bottom line for more than a decade. It was my last year there, in my second/third tour with the studio. At the end of the year, they bought Artisan Entertainment, and I got laid off. Not my first time being laid off by that combined company, but that’s a separate story.
So, it was 2003. This story actually starts earlier than then, when Lionsgate ended up handling distribution for Rob Zombie’s House Of 1,000 Corpses. A singularly strange movie but effective in its own way. Zombie made the film with the plan of Universal releasing the film. It ended up in a state where they believed it was unreleasable.
They were both right and wrong. The movie is unconventional and not the most pleasant story. But, it was horror in many ways that were lost on modern filmmaking. It lacked a happy ending and oozed with style. So, it got shelved. There was a lot of talk about MGM buying it, but it ended up going to Lionsgate.
Peter, the head of acquisitions, was instrumental in bringing it in. As an aside, he also ran home entertainment which gave him more authority to make that call. There was another division head at the time, Tom Ortenberg, who ran theatrical. He never struck me as adventurous at Peter, but he did some daring things. He seemed to be willing to put the movie out, and it did OK. Over twelve million box office https://www.boxofficemojo.com/release/rl1918404097/ in the US. It even got a bit of international play.
Where I’m going with all of this is that I’m far enough into my career where significant projects hit milestones like 20th anniversaries. The article Peter sent me was about the anniversary of the film’s release. Of particular interest was this section:
How did Lionsgate get involved?One of the people working there was a guy named Peter Block, who was really into doing genre stuff. He was a really good dude. Everybody there was really cool. Lionsgate was kind of small and very personable. I think they had passed on the movie at some point and somebody was like, no, they want to see it. This was years later. And that’s when they took it.This was a refreshing bit of information. Though I doubt Zombie even remembers me, for the longest time my memory wasn’t that fond of the experience. I bent over backwards to make it a positive experience, but there was a fair amount of conflict on the project.
I signed up for a class today. It is by ScreenwritingU. The class is on Mastering The Thriller Genre. I’m writing a supernatural mystery, and I was hoping it might help me make it better. My prior novel–a supernatural suspense story–I’m still editing, but I find these classes to be helpful in getting my brain engaged. And thinking about things differently.
Are there any classes you’ve taken on writing you’ve enjoyed?
The other day I took a free class from these guys on taking notes from a producer. Though I’m mostly focusing on prose, I have some screenplay ideas kicking around, as well. And I’m human. Getting feedback can be hard unless you train yourself to approach it more positively. That’s what this webinar did. It talked about how to make it more collaborative, and the lightbulb went off.
How do you deal with feedback?