I’m taking this time to write about a newly launched project that’s been in the pipeline for quite some time. It has little to do with our Critics Circle, except to say that I always urge our members to be creative and independent-minded and outspoken. Plus, I need to explain to you why this space hasn’t been updated for a bit.
For years, I’ve thought about doing an online screenplay serial. I’m utterly intrigued by games (which almost goes without saying), and horror-based games in particular. In fact, on the occasions that I have Rockstar Games’ Sam Houser’s ear, I suggest that the company make an open world horror game that goes beyond what was done with Undead Nightmare.
At the same time, I often think about why Hollywood screws up movies about games. There’s a complete chapter on their middling-to-horrible film endeavors in my book about games, All Your Base Are Belong to Us. Often, I feel that videogames are their own movies. In fact, because of the hours upon hours we spend with them, they can be more affecting than movies.
As I wrote and re-wrote Playing With Fire, this horror screenplay about games, monsters and disaffected teens, I wanted to see if any other creative types shared my feelings about Hollywood and their failure with game-oriented movies.
It turned out that three talented people cared enough about the script to help me make it into a media-rich online event for the Halloween season. Bill Plympton, the twice Oscar-nominated animator, drew the first monster and got the ball rolling. If you haven’t seen Bill’s Idiots and Angels, it is, in my opinion, his magnum opus.
Dave Lowery, the brilliant long-time storyboard artist who collaborates with Steven Spielberg and Sam Raimi, did a number of really scary pieces. Dave did this while working on the set of a brand new blockbuster movie. I literally yelled and fist-pumped when I saw how spot-on his work is. He really got the essence of the script. Dave Lowery really is Hollywood’s best storyboard artist.
Anton Sanko, the thoughtful musician who scored the sometimes terror-filled Big Love for HBO and more recently took on Rabbit Hole with Nicole Kidman, created a number of dark songs for Playing With Fire. This year, Anton was nominated for an Emmy for landmark work he did on a National Geographic special. Anton reads constantly. Perhaps that’s one reason his music is so compelling.
Playing With Fire launched last night at the perfect time, the witching hour. Each day until the screenplay is finished, I’ll put up five scenes for your perusal. I invite you to check it out daily. I hope you find it scary, a little satirical and somehow worthwhile of your time. I also invite you to participate with storyboards and art and comments of your own. Your thoughful participation can only make Playing With Fire better than it is.