I have kept the clip shown below to myself for the most part until now so not to interfere with the development of the motion picture The Delivery of which I served as a film consultant and stunt double performing all the fire whip stunts. (CLICK TO REVIEW and see pictures from the set.) A few years ago I was at a film festival collecting an award for a screenplay I wrote called The Lost Cannibals of Cahokia and was in the middle of filming a film adaption to my novel The Symposium of Justice. Peter Facinelli and director Rob Gunnerson were at the same festival promoting their recently completed indie film called Arc, which won all kinds of awards and is considered one of the best of its kind. Facinelli is of course known as Dr. Carlisle Cullen, from the Twilight series and is a current highly sought after actor in Hollywood. After a firewhip demonstration I did for the World Stunt Association Peter and Rob approached me about flying out to Los Angeles to work on a project the two were working on called The Delivery. The result of that endeavor can be seen below. Essentially they had a high concept idea that they wanted to make a pitch trailer out of for movie studios in conjunction with RealD 3D film equipment development. The Delivery is a highly dynamic universe of Angels and Demons who inhabit the bodies of men and fight in modern times with swords and fire whips. Peter wanted me to do the fire whip work for his project which I gladly obliged.
The status of that film is Peter and Rob is developing the concept now as a graphic novel which is the current trend in Hollywood. Hollywood likes to purchase proven commodities since budgets are so incredibly expensive, and film concepts must be fleshed out in advance these days.
The whip work I did was shopped around Hollywood with the RealD 3D stock footage captured during that shoot and became animation templates for films like Iron Man 2 and the Immortals. Below Rob talks more about the future direction of The Delivery in an interview. The entire interview can be seen at the hotlink below:
You’ve met with some artists to begin discussions of making “The Delivery” into a comic book, which is a cool idea in my opinion and we would love if you can hold us up to date about this. Back to my question… Have you ever thought about to make “The Delivery” as an animation movie?
Let me use THE AVENGERS as an example here. This summer THE AVENGERS will be released to what will undoubtedly be great success (at least from a financial standpoint, but hopefully from a critical standpoint as well.) It will feature some of today’s most popular actors. But let’s imagine for a moment that THE AVENGERS is a brand new idea that nobody has ever heard of. And imagine Stan Lee walking into a pitch meeting with a studio.
“So I’ve got this movie about a group of superheroes,” he says. “One of them is called IRON MAN. He’s this recovering alcohol who has a fake heart of sorts and flies around in a suit of iron. And there’s this other guy called THE HULK. He’s a dude who gets angry and turns into a green, muscular giant who can pick up a car with one hand. And there’s THOR, a Norse God who walks around in the modern world with a giant hammer and wings on his helmet.”
By this point, I guarantee the executives in the room are saying, “Um…no, thanks. Too expensive. Too weird-sounding. Too much of a risk. Too much money. And we don’t get it. Sounds like fun. And maybe if you brought it to us with an audience already built-in, then we would talk. But to do this from scratch? No way.”
That’s what we have with THE DELIVERY. A new concept that needs time so people can get it and Hollywood can “see it.” We have a screenplay for the first movie. We have a 3-D pitch trailer for the first movie. We are talking to artists about creating either a series of comic books or a graphic novel to develop an audience. We have, in fact, talked about doing an animated series for the project. But we need to build from the ground up and handle things in the most reasonable financial fashion. It starts with artwork in still images, and then we will move forward to animation/feature films/etc. as we build followers.
The film adaption I had been working on with a film professor who loved my Symposium novel and wanted to try their hand at producing and directing a movie version of it disintegrated when they failed to produce a finished clip to show at a film festival, which was needed to secure investors. The film professor learned the hard way why they teach film studies and aren’t actually in the “film business.” So my project was put on the shelf awaiting more competent hands as the money window opened and closed. The same thing happened to Peter Facinelli even with his superstar status after Twilight. Film studios are taking the safe bets for big budget action pictures with proven action stars and comic book material after the smashing success of Iron Man and the other Marvel Comic characters. Peter and Rob made their pitch trailer just ahead of the “Marvel wave” so the funding window closed on them as well.
But that doesn’t change the fact that doing such things was and is a lot of fun. Rob ran a great set and the project was a blast–literally. Without question we captured the best three-dimensional fireball ever recorded in 3D. They asked me to give them a 5 to 7 foot fireball that was as deep as it was wide, and I gave it to them. We shot the scene at about 4 AM as we were on a 12 hour shooting schedule over two days. When I cracked the fire whip sending a roaring air splitting explosion through the neighborhoods of Burbank, California the set gasp in awe as hundreds of people forgot to breathe for just a moment. It was the climax of The Delivery trailer shoot and was worth the entire effort. The RealD 3D execs in the director’s tent all rushed over to shake my hand as they realized what they had captured on film with their state-of-the-art camera system. Director Gunnerson yelled………………”F**KING AWSOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” His proclamation was nearly as loud as the whip explosion.
Many people ask me if it makes me angry to see that RealD 3D used that footage captured that night to shop their camera system around to studios and that those same studios did not invite me to do the same work for them on other film projects. Instead they handed the footage over to animators to copy off of. So the answer is no. There is nothing like real life effects, and whenever possible real effects should be done in physical reality. Animation never looks quite as good second-hand. However, I cannot blame studios, as I am expensive. If a kid can animate a fire whip on a computer screen while eating a hamburger from a Burger King drive thru window while copying stock footage of me more power to him. I am happy to help promote whip art any way possible, and projects like The Delivery and everything that spawns off it do in very positive ways.
However, it might be a while before Peter and Rob can get their film “delivered” to theaters. They need to build up a Comic Con following, and Peter understands how to do that. It will take a little time, but will eventually get done. Meanwhile I have to do the same with my own projects. In the film business it is like a merry-go-round where the point of opportunity may be seen, but quickly passes as the ride spins around. The way to approach is to wait for that opportunity to present itself again on the upstroke instead of trying to act too late and force a project through before its ready. Stan Lee at Marvel Comics spent decades building up the demand for his characters, and sometimes it takes that. I am happy to see that Peter and Rob are planning to do the same, and to take their time with their idea—because it is theirs—and gives it value that is almost always missing from stories that are brought to production too quickly by industry barnacles who only care about the money they can make off a project. A film must be able to do both, and in the end, The Delivery will “deliver.”