Dreamworks Animation to make Thimblerig’s Ark Film? I’m BUSTING!

I thought I couldn’t get any more excited than I did last week, when my post What’s Wrong with Christian Filmmaking went viral.  It was an amazing few days, with over 90,000 people having visited my blog in a little under a week, and the article being reposted by actor Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, God is Dead) as well as writer Jefferson Bethke (Jesus > Religion).  What I didn’t realize when it was going nuts, was just how nuts it was going to get.

Thimblerig's Ark Cover ArtOn Sunday afternoon (China time), I received an email from a man named Alex Boese, who said he was a producer at Dreamworks.  Apparently, with the renewed focus on faith-based films brought about by films like Son of God, Noah, God is Dead, and the upcoming Exodus, my article had made the rounds in Hollywood until someone on Facebook shared it with him.  Boese wrote that he read the blog and appreciated what I’d written, but as he was reading, the cover of Thimblerig’s Ark caught his eye.  It’s featured pretty prominently on my blog, and it doesn’t surprise me, as the cover was a fantastic job by seventeen year old up-and-coming artist, Burton Booz.   Intrigued by the cover, Boese went ahead and downloaded the book out of curiosity.  Here is what Boese said in his email:

I asked April, my eleven year old daughter, to give the book a glance, since she is often my barometer for what kids will like and not like.  This was around 7 PM on Thursday night.  When my wife went to get her ready for bed at 8:30, she was so deep into the story that my daughter didn’t hear my wife telling her to brush her teeth.  We let her keep reading, and by 9:30, she’d read the whole book.  She ran downstairs and asked if I could give her the second book.  You should have seen the sad look on her face when I told her there wasn’t a second book yet!  At that point, I knew I’d found something!

Friday morning, Boese took Thimblerig’s Ark up the chain of command at Dreamworks, until it landed on the desk of none other than Jeffrey Katzenberg himself that afternoon.  That’s right – on Friday, March 28 – the day Noah was released in the US –  the CEO of Dreamworks Animation was given a copy of my own version of the ark story, and Boese wrote that Katzenberg “absolutely loved it”!!!

katzYes, you read that correctly.  Jeffrey Katzenberg – who has been responsible for Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and lots more – loved Thimblerig’s Ark.

I’m busting here.  BUSTING!

It’s all a bit of a whirlwind to me, and I don’t claim to understand everything that’s going on at this point, but if I’m reading this correctly, then it seems like Dreamworks – through this Mr. Boese – has made first contact in an attempt to negotiate some sort of deal for the rights for my first novel.  With the apparently success of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, it seems like the world’s most famous floating zoo is no longer seen as a hazardous film investment, and Aronofsky’s film was definitely not family fare!  I’m currently trying to find a good entertainment lawyer to help make sure I do things correctly, and I’ve made a few contacts with a law firm based out of Hollywood called the Iocus, Blague, & Witz Entertainment Group, but we’ll see where it goes.

I wonder if Katzenberg will talk his good friend Mr. Spielberg into directing it?  The way things have been going lately, I actually wouldn’t be surprised.

I’ve put up a copy of Boese’s email on an image hosting website, and you can read in detail by clicking here.  Meanwhile, we’re scheduled to have a Skype conference at 2:00 PM Los Angeles time, which will be about 5:00 AM tomorrow morning for me.

COULD THIS GET ANY MORE CRAZY?!?

Oh, and by the way… since it appears most people don’t click links…

Thimblerig's Ark April 1

 

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On Writing and American Idol

I was watching the new season of American Idol last night and was struck by the similarities between the thousands of kids who try out for that show and the thousands of authors trying to find an agent or a publisher to look at their book every day.  I was inspired to write this, because it turns out I know exactly how those kids feel.

American-Idol-Austin-Auditions-27-480x280

The day has finally arrived.

I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent preparing for this moment.   Days, probably.  Weeks?  Years?  And now, it’s here.  I can hardly believe it.

I think I’m ready.  Just like the others who are also trying, I’ve sacrificed so much to get to this point; choosing to work on my craft, striving and wrestling with it all by myself, when I could have chosen to spend time with others.

“Come out with us,” they’d plead.

“I can’t,” I’d respond.  “I’ve got to get this perfect.”  They’d nod and walk away, and I’d close the door and get back to it.

Was it the right choice?  I think it was.  At least I hope that it was.  I made this choice because I knew that the future was inevitable.  I knew that one day I would be in this place, about to open myself up to the criticisms of the judges, and possibly their praise, and I needed to be ready.

But what if I walk away rejected?  What if, after making this choice for so long, it leads to nothing?   I would be humiliated, wouldn’t I?  I would have to crawl back home with my tail between my legs and face the very ones who freed me up to come here in the first place.

They would be so disappointed in me…

That can’t happen.  Even if these people about to judge me laugh at me, tell me I’ve wasted everyone’s time, insist that I should not quit my day job, I’ll know they are wrong.  I won’t delude myself into thinking that I’m better than I am at my craft, but I’ll know the truth.  I’ll know what I’ve learned in the process.  I’ll know that I’m a better person, because I’ve tried.

Isn’t that what life is all about?  Trying?   If I’m not trying, then I’m dying.

I’m not ready to die.

It occurs to me that I am the sum of my experiences, not the sum of their rejections.  Do they know that if they reject me, their rejection will not define me?  They will simply become bit players in the story of my life, their parts played by the character actors nobody knows, as the audience watches me use their rejection to become better, both as a person and as a practitioner of my craft.

And I want to be better in both ways for the sake of those people who have shown me patience in this process, who have given me space to be alone so that I can work to be better.  I want them to know that our sacrifices have not been in vain.

The light flashes green.  This is my last chance to turn back.  But why would I even consider that?  I shake my head, bemused that I would try to talk myself out of my own dreams when I stand here at the threshold.

Shut up, I tell myself.  You didn’t come this far to turn back now.

Then I take a deep breath, I open the door, and I boldly step into my future.

Searching for Russell Crowe

Expecting Russell Crowe smallerWhat is a groundhog doing, standing in that Noah poster where Russell Crowe is supposed to stand?

This is just my latest attempt to try to get Crowe’s or director Darren Aronofsky’s attention.  But do you know how hard it is to get the attention of a film superstar actor or director?  Here we are, all three working on projects based on the account of Noah – colleagues, so to speak – and I can’t seem to get them to acknowledge me.

We’re really not that different, really, Crowe and I.  We have both spent an inordinate amount of time these past few years thinking about the Ark and things Ark related, we both starred in major motion pictures where we portrayed Roman gladiators on the run, We’ve both also worked several times with Ron Howard on Oscar winning projects, we were both born in Wellington, New Zealand on April 7, 1964, …

Okay, so maybe those last three things aren’t true.

Still, here they have this major blockbuster motion picture coming out in just a couple of months, and I feel like there could be some synergy here.  Because Crowe and Aronofsky really need the boost of associating themselves with an unpublished author’s first attempt at a novel, right?  That would really help their film get off the ground!

Of course not.  If Russell Crowe or Darren Aronofsky decided to mention me or my book in a tweet or something, it would do nothing but benefit me.  And of course, that’s why I’m  seeking it out!  Here’s the way I see it – all three of us hard working men, trying to do what we do to the best of our ability.  Me, in my classrooms in Kazakhstan and China, them – wherever their film work has taken them.  They, of course, have enjoyed enormous commercial and public success because of their gifts and abilities.  I’ve enjoyed public success, too, but not of the “enormous” or “commercial” variety.

noah poster

See what I did there? Aren’t I a clever little photoshopping novice?

But these guys are so big that my little voice hardly reaches them.  And, they have so many voices screaming at them all the time from all over the place, that I’m not sure my voice ever will be heard.  But, I’ll keep trying, and maybe one of them will actually hear at some point, and want to know more about my take on the story that they’ve also spent so much time preparing to tell.  Maybe the attention they give me might help me get the attention of a literary agent, and then we’ll see where we go from there.  Wouldn’t that be cool?

So Russell Crowe, or Darren Aronofsky, if by some miracle of God you actually notice me or my tweets, and if for some insane or crazy reason you want to know more about my first attempt at a novel, then let me know.  I’ll be glad to help give your film a boost!

Waiting for an agent’s response

Deer-Silhouette-WallpaperI’m sitting in the mist-filled woods, in the chill of the late morning, and I’ve been sitting here since well before the sun rose.  I’ve been sitting in the same position, nervous to move, afraid that the basic act of scratching my nose will be all that it takes to broadcast my presence to the entire woods.

I’m about to nod off when I sense movement.  I sense it to my left, through the leaves and the brush.  It sounds almost mystical to describe it that way, doesn’t it?  Maybe it is mystical.  It could just be instinct.   But whatever might be happening in the world beyond my sight, I know that something is there.  It just needs to step into the clearing.  And it makes me even more afraid to move.  After all, if I can sense it, can it sense me?

I stop breathing and shift, almost imperceptibly.  And I wait.

I wait.

If I move, if I breathe, I might frighten my quarry away, and then all of my hopeful waiting will have been in vain.  Through the green of the underbrush I see a spot of brown, and my breath catches because I know that my quarry is there.  I’ve been waiting for this.  I’ve been patient, I’ve been hopeful, and now – it is coming.  My shot is coming.

I hope.

Moving as slowly as possible, I take careful aim, and wait for my quarry to reveal itself fully.  While I wait I’m aware of several things happening at the same time:  A single fly that has apparently fallen in love with my right ear;  I’m aware of the clouds overhead, riding the winds in between me and the sun, and I watch as their shadows slip through the trees and bushes;  In the distance, I hear the sound of the highway, the rumbling of the big eighteen wheelers as they journey towards their destinations unaware of the drama playing out just off the highway.

Unaware.

The entire world is unaware that this is happening, this dance of life in the woods.  Oh, a few people know where I am, but to most of the world, it’s not happening.  Most of the world doesn’t know and doesn’t care if I succeed or if I fail.  But I am confident that I’m doing what I was born to do, and it all rests on my ability to take the shot when it comes.  If I succeed, maybe the world will know, and maybe they will celebrate with me.  If I fail I’ll be back where I started, back in this spot in the woods, waiting, and hoping.

And nobody will know.

I’m brought out of my revelry by movement behind the trees, but it is not the movement I hope for.  The spot of brown disappears into the forest.  Slipping away as silently as it came.  I think it knew I was here, that I was waiting.

It wasn’t the right time.

I relax, and shift in my seat, and lower my camera.  But I’m not going anywhere.  I will continue to wait, for as long as it takes.

I won’t leave until I get the shot.