The J. Michael Straczynski Message Archive


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by J. Michael Straczynski (JMS).

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 Subject: Re: JMS: The time has come...
    Date: 12/12/2006 10:35:28 PM  

Message 1 in thread 

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Jan wrote:
> ..the Vorlon said, to speak of many things.
> Of feature films,
> and TV shows,
> of comic books and things.
> Of why your keyboard's boiling hot and whether Narns have wings. (with apologies
> to Lewis Carroll)
> Or in other words, how about the traditional year-end update on all things
> Straczynski? What can you tell us (and what can you hint) about the above and
> any other short stories, radio dramas, plays, video games, songs, dances,
> pilots, anthologies, DVDs, novels, scripts, animation, columns, interviews,
> conventions etc., etc. that you might be involved in?

The screenplay for the film I'm writing for Universal will be turned in
mid-January. Akiva Goldsman is among the producers on this project, a
big budget historical movie based on the life of King David.

This week the outline for the film I'm writing for Paramount will be
turned in to the studio. I'm still waiting for the PR department to
announce the project so I can't yet identify it. I can say though that
it's for Brad Pitt's Plan B productions.

Coming down on the other side of finishing these scripts, I now have to
decide which of four projects currently in front of me I'll take to
write starting in January. They range the gamut from another
historical movie, to an adaptation, a remake of a *very* famous SF
film, and a movie based on a British series for a major actor. (And
no, it's not a British series that most genre people would know about,
a la Blake's 7 or the like.)

I had lunch with the President of Imagine Entertainment today, who let
me know that it is their intention to get Changeling in front of the
cameras by no later than late summer '07. A major star has committed,
but I can't release that name yet.

I checked back to see when The Adventures of Apocalypse Al would be
airing on CBC, and it turns out they were waiting for any last minute
notes from me on the finished product before locking and scheduling.
My oops.

> Oh, and how's post-production going on TLT?

I turned in the director's/producer's cut last Friday, the studio
viewed it yesterday, loved what they saw, and now we've locked the cut.
Friday I have a music spotting session with Chris Franke, and up
north, Atmosphere is churning out CGI as fast as they can. (We're not
going for the shakey-cam look that BSG has made something of its house
style in order to not poach, out of courtesy. Our production offices
at the Vancouver Film Studios were right next door to the BSG offices,
incidentally. And just two stages down they were shooting the Fanastic
Four sequel.)

Fairly soon, probably starting late January, the director's blogs will
start showing up on the net. I can't tell you how much I hate being in
front of the camera.

The script for my pilot, Borrowed Lives, went to the network last week,
and we should hear a yes or no fairly soon on whether we go into

Because it's hard to get another show going when you'd be in second
position contractually, we're waiting to see if Borrowed Lives gets
picked up before going out to the networks with Rising Stars, which I'm
developing with Sam Raimi's company.

I'm three issues into Thor, four issues into the secret project I'm
writing for Marvel, Spider-Ham comes out shortly (couldn't love it
more), Bullet Points 2 comes out this week, and in general I'm keeping

 Subject: Re: JMS: The time has come...
    Date: 12/13/2006 12:20:28 AM  

Message 2 in thread 

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Shabaz wrote:
> On a related note, if JMS is still reading this; since one of your
> explicitly stated goals when asked why you took on directing was to get
> the tone and design of the CGI right, and updating the look for the
> modern world while keeping the feel the same, I was wondering if you'd
> be willing elaborate on how much involvement you have with the CGI side
> of things as a director/producer? It came up in a discussion with a
> fellow fan this week, and it has gotten me curious too. Do you actually
> direct the CGI camera, how much use of things like storyboarding and
> previz is made, and in general how much stages of approval do these
> things go through?

First storyboards get done shot-by-shot, with me and the artist, then
those go to the efx house for reference. Based on these they do
animatics, which we've discussed in advance as to the basic look and
feel I'm going for in the cgi, what kind of animation or action I do or
don't want. I'll often describe the shot in more detail. They do the
rough animatics, send them on for approval, and I may or may not have
notes. Then they do the final render. I've always been hands-on that

> Also, these "director's blogs"; these would be video production
> diaries, like they had on during King Kong production?
> Those sound fun, and with JMS in them, I'm sure they will steal the
> hearts of many internet denizens. <g>

Yeah, my mug in front of the camera a la Jackson. Like THAT'S gonna
sell copies. People will be bringing these things back in droves, just
to appease the horrified children....

 Subject: Re: JMS: The time has come...
    Date: 12/13/2006 2:13:43 AM  

Message 3 in thread 

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Jan wrote:
> In the past you've been pretty lukewarm about doing features because of the
> difference in influence the writer has in features as compared to TV. With the
> raised profile you've gained in selling 'The Changeling' to Ron Howard, are you
> able to keep any more control or are you just trying to choose your projects
> carefully?

The difference is fundamentally this: in the past, when meeting about
features, I (like 99% of all writers) went in at the lower levels,
studio development guys about nine rungs down, and it was always a crap
shoot if this was a real offer, how long they'd string you along, and
they didn't have the power to say yes in the room.

The Changeling script, and Ron's purchase thereof, changed everything.
I hopscotched right into the a-list, and now when I go in, it's a) on
really cool projects, b) I'm meeting with the heads of studios or heads
of production not development guys, these are people who can say yes in
the room, c) I'm also meeting directly with directors which is the best
way to get a film made, and d) these are straight-up offers by guys who
really *know* what a story is, who have good reps. It's not like
"here, here's 'Bloodsuckers from Outer Space,' go write it." They're
prestige projects.

It's honestly been rather breathtaking. And it shows what just one
script, if it's the right script, can do. And a lot of the guys I'm
meeting didn't even know about the TV background, didn't know or care
how old I was all about the words, which should be encouraging
to anybody out there.

For a science fiction TV guy there's nothing weirder in the world than
(as was the case a few weeks ago) to go to a meeting at a production
company at the WB lot, find out it's George Clooney's office, and go in
and there he is, on the couch, and he waves me over to sit next to him.
"Come on, here, sit, tell me about what's new in your life."

There are times I feel like I'm wearing somebody else's life.

> I've seen reports that the latest Wizard magazine mentioned that you're leaving
> Amazing Spider-Man this coming year. Is that true?

I've been giving it a lot of thought, and what I've enjoyed writing the
most for Marvel have been the special projects, like Bullet Points, the
new one I'm writing, and I'm most especially happy with how Thor is
going. So I finally felt that the best thing I could do would be to
devote myself almost entirely to those projects...come up with really
cool 6, 12 or 18 issue special projects, in or out of ongoing titles,
or reviving titles, and keep Thor my own monthly mainstream Marvel
book, so I can give all of those the proper amount of attention.

The cool thing about this is that I get to play anywhere I want in the
Marvel universe, I can tell whatever stories I want without worrying
about continuity for the most part, and best of all the process calls
for the books to be fully written and drawn THEN solicited, so there
are no delays. So right now, on the new project, I'm 4 scripts in out
of 12, pencils are now coming in on issue 3, and we should have the
whole thing done before the first issue hits the stands. That, for me,
is the more satisfying way of doing things.

> And how many more issues of
> Fantastic Four will there be?

This next one is my last.

> Colleen Doran has said that Book of Lost Souls
> will be back next year. Any idea of a time frame?

Dunno, it's a function of when the first batch of pencils get turned


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