Saturday, May 13, 2006


THE MIDNIGHT MAN is a project developed from a pitch by PGL winners Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan.

A while back, I invited the writers to my L.A. Valley College class along with some others - including Mike Gozzard, fomer V.P. at Fortress Entertainment. (Mike co-authored the screenplay P.D.R. starring Terrence Howard and Bernie Mac, a Fortress film currently in production.)

I knew the writers of FEAST would be a perfect match for Fortress and insisted they share some ideas. They pitched their untitled concept - sort of a slasher pic set against the backdrop of a heist. Mike loved it and brought the duo in to meet the other duo, Fortress founders Brett Forbes and Patrick Rizzotti.

I arranged a lunch for Marcus and Patrick to pitch their idea to Julie Richardson (who produced COLLATERAL). I've been working with Julie on several projects. Horror isn't quite up her alley, but she could see the worthiness of the project (popular genre, easier to finance, etcetera) and Julie also signed on as a producer. Development on the script began last year.

Trained under the tutelage of Project Greenlight, Patrick and Marcus write fast. True to the genre and the sort of horror movies film geek Marcus adores, the end result was a draft that made us all happy. But Marcus had been expressing interest in directing the project. Horror movies have been a great avenue for new directors to cut their teeth. Marcus has directed some short films and watched the quirky and talented John Gulager apply his trade during the filming of PGL's FEAST - an education that the entire country shared. (Project Greenlight was nominated for an Emmy Award - mostly due to Gulager's irresistable demeanor.) It wouldn't be an easy sell to convince financers that Marcus was worthy of directing a feature film, and he knew it. But he was willing to do whatever it took to prove he was the only man for the job.

Marcus is a loyal, endearing and passionate character who has won the support of many in his endeavor to direct THE MIDNIGHT MAN - including the principals at NEO ART & LOGIC, INC. Julie even arranged for Marcus to spend a day observing Frank Darabont shoot a TV pilot.
This weekend, Marcus has set out to shoot a trailer for the yet-to-be-produced movie (with a modest budget and devoted crew) at a house in the middle of Santa Clarita (down the end of the longest, bumpiest and scariest dirt road ever) and some creepy Hollywood locales.

FEAST collaborator and friend director John Gulager offered to work with Marcus as the director of photography (armed with an HD camera).
So, the journey begins for Marcus as he struggles to prove his mettle and win the task to direct his screenplay. Luckily, his career (from video store clerk to filmmaker) was born on a "win." However, winning PGL - despite the rare experience - has also been a source of frustration, considering the constant postponing of a release date for FEAST. (Word on the street is October for a possible release.)
This blog entry is a break from the usual Q&A forum, but I wanted to share a small story that demonstrates one way a project comes together, and the arduous process it takes to launch a career and prove your worth in such a competitive industry.

Marcus Dunstan, Chris Lockhart and producer Julie Richardson after midnight on the set of THE MIDNIGHT MAN.

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