Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Midnight Clear book

My Dad and I have been working on a possible book deal for Midnight Clear. It would be a novel, based on the screenplay, but we would make it more than a traditional novelization. Most novelizations are just re-tellings of the movie, but we'd want it to be a little more than that. We're currently in discussions with a couple of publishers who are very interested. Hopefully, we'll have a deal to announce soon.

In the meantime, I thought I'd provide the first chapter here. We wrote it as a sample for the publishers, and the response was very positive. Thought you'd enjoy it:

ONE December 24th, 8:15 a.m.

Why is it a guy seems to drool in his sleep only when someone might see it? Nestled in your proper place at the proper time, the pillow stays dry. Otherwise, you might need a bib.

Lefty Boyle was not in his proper place at the proper time. His rusted '76 Caprice sat half a football field from the other cars at the factory, and he was in it - head back, mouth open, and yes, drooling.

A loud knock on the window interrupted the Hallmark portrait.

"You alive in there?"

Kamal, the janitor who'd served as Lefty's wakeup three days running, opened the door.

Lefty stirred. 'Yeah."

"You're fifteen minutes late. Dale's looking for you, and he's more ticked than usual."

Back to sleep.

"You hear what I said?" Kamal said, turning away.

"Yeah, I'm comin'. And thanks for makin' me late!"

Kamal whirled. "Oh gee, I'm sorry! My boss, who pays me, wanted me to do something. Next time I'll tell him I work for Lefty."

Lefty grabbed his mangled toothbrush from the visor and stumbled out. Two minutes later, in the nasty factory bathroom, he brushed his teeth and smoothed his greasy hair. He turned his mustard stained shirt inside out, then spotted his boss behind him in the mirror.

"Hey, Princess," Dale said. "When you’re done putting on your makeup, get your royal behind in my office." The door slammed behind him.

Merry Christmas.

The call had awakened him at 6:30. Kirk found it hard to believe that his 17-year-old employee had magically fallen sick the day before Christmas, but he was impressed the kid got up that early to tell him. If only he was as committed to his work...

Kirk wheeled into Mr. K's Quick Stop in his usual spot - off to the side, amidst loose gravel and tall weeds, close to the woods. He glanced up at the rusted sign. Grief, what a cheesy name.

He unlocked the door and two padlocks and stepped inside. His place. Four rows of "convenient" items (healthy food is inconvenient, apparently) in front of a wall of beverages and frozen food. The side wall bore random fishing items and included a tiny greasy eating area no longer open for business. Large banners hung from the ceiling depicting beer and cigarettes being consumed by people who looked nothing like his customers.

For most gas stations of this ilk, opening meant turning on the pumps, the cash register, and the food machines. But try as he might, Kirk couldn't break the routine started when he first bought the place and actually gave a rip: Toilet scrubbed. Garbage emptied. Soap dispenser, paper towel and napkin dispensers filled, merchandise organized. And, of course, gourmet coffee brewed. He couldn't do the instant stuff. Just couldn't.

For the local trailer park families, shirtless smokers, meth addicts, fishermen, and long distance travelers, Mr. K's Quick Stop was ready.

Sorry, We're Closed became Yes, We're Open!

Merry Christmas.

Today was the day. Or, better said, tonight would be the night. When you want your death to cause no complications for anyone, it's best to prepare.

Eva lugged the cat food bag out to her driveway, and leaning against the house, bent and filled the bowl. The sound brought Scrappy, the neighborhood stray, and as he dug in, Eva emptied the rest onto the concrete. Scrappy would need enough to last for however long it took for anyone to discover Eva's body.

Merry Christmas.

Mary pulled into the drop-off spot at the elementary school a bit too fast. Raising him on her own for the last year, her morning routine with Jacob was always rushed. At six years old, he had no problem getting up at 6:45 every morning. But she did. She would turn on the Disney Channel for him, go back to bed for half an hour, then slam through the morning to get him to school by 8:15 and herself to work by 8:30. It helped that she didn't need to look flawless, and that she and Jacob were both fine with Nutri-Grain bars in the mini-van as their breakfast of champions.

Jacob's too-cute teacher wearing a too-cute Santa hat, bounced out to greet them.

"Hey Jacob!" Megan said. "How ya' doin', buddy?"

Jacob smiled and waved, unbuckling his seat.

Megan's smile vanished and she cocked her head.

Here it comes.

"Hey, Mary. You doing okay?"

"I’m fine. You?"

Whispered now. "Seriously. You doin' all right?"

Mary paused. Megan wasn't going to let her off the hook, especially today.

"As well as can be expected. Seriously."

Thankfully, Jacob struggled with the door, and Megan rushed to let him out. As he ran off, Mary called out, "Love you, Jacob, be good!"

Without turning or slowing, he hollered, "Love you!"

Mary turned back to Megan. "His juice box is in his backpack. He'll try to tell you I forgot to give him - "

"Got it." Megan smiled, knowingly, then looked puzzled, peering in at Mary. "Hey, you know those seats are adjustable."

Mary had been riding low in the seat, reaching for the wheel, for a year and had gotten used to it.

"Oh. Yeah. Well, this is the way Rick liked it, though. I just…you know…"

Megan backed off. "Yeah. Okay. See you at three?"

Finally. "See you at three."

Today was December 24th. That conversation would not be the last of its kind, Mary was sure of that. People are just trying to be nice, she reminded herself.

Merry Christmas.

Mitch exchanged his car for the 15-passenger van in the church parking lot. The van needed gas for a dozen small trips all afternoon and evening. This jaunt to the gas station would mark the only time he would be in it without a load of loud teenagers.

It was going to be a miserable day, plain and simple. In six hours, it would get really miserable, when he had to take his youth group kids caroling. But this was also the one year anniversary of the accident.

A year before, Mitch's car had been in the shop, so Rick, his best friend and one of the youth leaders, was giving him a ride home from the church youth party. The drunk driver never slowed as he raced through the intersection and rammed the driver's side of Rick's car. Mitch suffered cracked ribs and a separated shoulder when Rick's body drove him into the passenger door. Mitch needed a sling and bandages. Rick needed epic, emergency care, and was still institutionalized.

Everything changed that night. Everything. Rick wasn't really Rick. Mitch felt so awkward around him. On the rare days Rick was settled enough to have a moderately coherent conversation, they had nothing to talk about. Most days Rick was like a two-year-old, everything included - tantrums, diapers, you name it. Mitch hadn't visited him for weeks; it was too hard, and the visits didn’t seem to do much for Rick anyway.

Now, as Mitch passed through the same intersection, he got that same chill and couldn't keep from looking both ways repeatedly. He'd passed through it hundreds of times in the past year, but it was always the same. It made him feel weak.

He would have remembered the anniversary of the accident anyway, but that it was Christmas Eve drilled it. Eventually, Christmas Eves might feel normal again. But so far, this one wasn't looking good.

Merry Christmas.

Namesake movie
Published: January 9, 2007
I got my start in this business working for Namesake Entertainment out of Louisville. I worked there for over three years, right out of college, as they had optioned the rights to the Left Behind series. My time there was an invaluable learning experience.

This past weekend, their third feature film was released by Fox Faith. The fact that they've gotten so many films produced and released in the last few years is astounding, but this release brings up what is still frustrating about the "Christian film market." Fox Faith opened "Three" on 450 screens, and it grossed about $700,000, which is a pretty bad opening. Plus, the reviews were painful.

It seems as if studios like Fox are starting these "Christian" divisions and hoping the market shows up, but they're doing nothing to really massage or develop it. They assume the Christian market will support a film solely because of "the cause," as if the quality of the film or a normal marketing campaign are irrelevant.

I think the key for faith-based films to succeed in the long run is for them to be treated like normal films, with the Christian market used as a support and safety net. Think of films like Narnia or Walk to Remember. They were released as normal films, with either big name stars or big-time attention to quality. Then, the studios pursued the Christian audience directly to emphasize that this film was something they could trust. But before then, the audience had to believe that the film was something they could LIKE.

Three will probably end up being a moderate success for Fox on a financial scale. They'll hit a solid single. And I believe that Namesake is passionate about making successful and good films, and I hope that each one gets better. But I think the possibility of hitting a home run is there, if the studios would concentrate first on making great films before they focus solely on making sure it panders to Christians.