David Parkin and Daryl Freimark
(Interviewer: Kelley van Dilla, GS Editor for SPACES)
Growing up in the Rocky Mountains, David Parkin spent the majority of his life around the filming locations of movies such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Rio Bravo, Once Upon a Time in the West and Vanishing Point. His passion for stories started there, around the campfire in the mysterious desert and quiet woods. Dave has collected a lifetime of stories inspired by local religion and folklore and has taken it with him to L.A. in hopes of sharing it with the world.
His screenplay The Devil is Due in Dreary, a supernatural western, was selected for the “Emerging Narrative” program at IFP in New York. David adapted the story into a comic book which is in stores now and the feature film is currently in development. His screenplay Hells Pass, a unique take on Dante’s Inferno was recently featured on “The Hit List” as one of the best un-produced screenplays in Hollywood.
Daryl Freimark is an Independent Producer and Founder of Hardball Entertainment. Amongst the films Daryl has produced are Neil LaBute’s Some Velvet Morning, starring Alice Eve and Stanley Tucci (premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in 2013); Allegiance, written and directed by Michael Connors and starring Seth Gabel, Pablo Schreiber, Bow Wow and Aidan Quinn (released theatrically in December 2012); and FiveStar, written and directed by Keith Miller (currently in post-production). Daryl is the Executive Editor of the 4-part comic book series and graphic novel The Devil is Due in Dreary, created by David Parkin and based off Parkin’s screenplay, and published by Arcana. Daryl will be producing the movie version of Dreary in 2014. Daryl has also produced a number of short films including LaBute’s BFF (premiered at Tribeca Film Festival 2012) and Special Things to Do, written and directed by T.J. Misny (premiered at Woodstock Film Festival 2011). Previously Daryl spent eight years at New Line Cinema, where he was a Co-Producer on Hairspray (2007) starring John Travolta, Queen Latifah and Zac Effron.
Kelley: Daryl, I know you come from a film background – Dave, do you come from a film background as well?
Dave: Yeah I do. I worked as a camera man, assistant camera and PA. I have for a number of years.
Kelley: How did you two meet?
Dave: I wrote The Devil is Due in Drearyas a screenplay when I was going to school and working as a cameraman. I had, and still do have the dream of becoming a writer and so when I graduated from school, the first script I wrote was The Devil is Due in Dreary. I knew absolutely nobody in Hollywood, the only options I knew of getting anybody to read a screenplay of mine were contests and programs and things like that, so I submitted to IFP, which is the Independent Film Project, they have what is called the Emerging Narrative program where you submit your script and they pick I believe its how many, 30 scripts, Daryl?
Daryl: I believe it was 40 that year.
Dave: They pick 40 scripts and you go to New York and kind of have this speed-dating pitch session with the people that are interested in your script. At the time it was awesome – I felt really Hollywood – and on the application it has a box to check if you’d like a Hollywood professional to read your script and give you notes before you come to New York and so I checked that box and it was Daryl that called me and he was the guy giving notes. He called me up, I was actually in the mountains when he called me, which is really funny because you never get reception, but I got his call and that’s the first time I ever spoke to him. And when I went to New York I met with him. I went and did the IFP Film Week and after that, he asked if he could produce it and I of course said yes and we’ve been working on this ever since. That was in 2008.
Daryl: When IFP asked me to read scripts for the Emerging Narratives program, I think there were something like 700 submissions and I wound up reading probably close to 150 of those submissions, and when we selected 40 total, they asked us which of the screenplays that were selected we would be interested in being a script consultant on. And I had a short list of maybe 4 or 5 scripts, but I put right at the top The Devil is Due in Dreary, and I remember writing a note and saying if I get no other projects other than The Devil is Due in Dreary, to just make sure I get this. I’m so passionate about this project, it just really speaks to me. Dave and I spoke on the phone and then we met in New York, and I had spent eight years at New Line Cinema – that was my background – and I was just segueing into independent producing and so I said to Dave, “Look, I’ve yet to produce a film independently but that’s the direction I’m headed and I really believe in this story and I’d love to produce this.” Dave was nice enough to allow me to come onboard, but I think the real reason, or one of the main reasons behind it was that when we spoke about it for the first time, Dave felt that I really got the project. A lot of people saw it as a supernatural movie or as a horror movie or something to that effect and I always saw it as a thriller with a hint of the supernatural but with a very psychological aspect and this cult experience to it and that’s exactly how Dave intended it. Years later I found out that it was inspired by the Twilight Zone which I literally grew up watching and loving – so it just made all the more sense why we both had a meeting of the minds.
Kelley:Cool. And so then you moved toward a comic book immediately? How did that process come about?
Dave: We developed it, did a bunch of drafts – if I remember correctly, from 10 to 13 drafts. We developed it for probably a year or so.And so when we had developed it, we started making plans of different people to take it to, started getting a little bit of interest. And I’m sure it was my idea to turn it into a comic book because I’d always wanted to make a comic book and so I talked to Daryl about it. I remember both of us being onboard from the get-go to try that out.
Daryl:Actually, let me take a step back from that for one second. We did the drafts, I’d say probably about six months working on it, and we gave it to a very, very small handful of people who we trusted, and we got some feedback and some initial interest, but part of the problem was that shortly after that, the economy really bottomed-out and everybody was saying in order to get a film going you really need to have some sort of an element, like it can’t just be a great script. And I guess that’s always kind of the case, but even more so at that point in time – everyone was really scared about independent films and that’s when Dave and I started talking about the comic book. I had no comic book background, but the screenplay really read to me like a comic in many ways, and obviously as Dave said, it’s how he always envisioned it and we took it from there – Dave, do you want to continue?
Dave:Yeah. After we decided to make that move, we started shopping it around again, this time to comic book people and long story short – like a year-long story short – we ended up with Ardden. There was a lot of interest but not a lot of follow-through for that year.
Daryl: When we partnered with the publisher, Ardden Entertainment, they said that they’ll handle all of the printing and publishing costs and that we’d be able to find artists who would work on it for free because you’re basically saying, “Look, we’ve got the books written and Ardden’s going to publish it, so we’re giving you an opportunity to get your art out there into the world.” And we went down that road a little bit and it just seemed really daunting and that we weren’t going to get anybody reliable or of quality or professional on board. Kickstarter had literally just started up at that point – maybe it was six months old or something – and I said, “Look there’s this thing, Kickstarter, and I feel confident that we could raise five-thousand dollars.” I mean, we get 100 people to give 50 dollars each or something and so we went back to Ardden and we said look, we think that we have $5,000 to pay for artists, what do you recommend? And Ardden put us in touch with Space Goat, which is an artist management company, and we said to a gentleman named David Olbrich who worked at Space Goat, “This is how much money we have.” At that point I learned, although I think Dave knew this already, that you have somebody who pencils, somebody who inks, somebody who colors, and all of those people need to be paid, and so basically Space Goat said, once we break down your $5,000 to 22 pages by three artists, this is how much you’ll have to pay each artist per page, and these are the artists that can do it for that money. And basically Dave wrote out character descriptions for a couple of the key characters and a number of artists did sample sketches for Dave and me, although really just for Dave because Dave is the one with the eye and the vision. And Allan Jefferson’s work stood out so far above – and there was a lot of beautiful work – but Allan’s work was just so superior to everybody else’s work, so we went with Allan.
Dave:Yeah, that’s right.
Daryl: And another interesting element of this is that Space Goat is based out of Washington State and out of California, but Allan lives in Brazil and they actually have a Brazilian office run by a gentleman named Antonio Martins Jr.. Antonio is bilingual, but Allan only speaks Portuguese, so basically we would give notes to Antonio and Antonio would share them with Allan and Allan would ask questions and Antonio would translate them. So that’s kind of how that process worked. Jonas Trindade, who’s our inker, works with Allan regularly out of that same facility down in Brazil and then our initial colorist, who’s a gentleman named Diego Tapié, works out of Uruguay, but we eventually moved on from Diego to a gentleman named Rainer Petter and Rainer also works out of that same facility in Brazil.
Kelley: Wow, was that difficult? Working with artists who largely don’t speak English?
Dave: It presented it’s own problems. There were a lot of things lost in translation. I remember in one of the opening scenes, there’s a bar scene and I put in there that I wanted moths flying around a lightbulb and the page came back and there were butterflies. Monarch butterflies.
Kelley: Oh. Wow.
Dave: And so I had to write back and say “No, moths” and Jr. (Antonio) was like, “That’s the same word in Portuguese.” So I learned to start sending pictures, because, you know, they’d come back and they’d be like, “What’s a bench?” And I’d say, “Uhh… I’ll just send you a picture.” Or I wanted a specific car used, instead of trying to describe it, I’d send a picture and say, “Color it like this” or “Draw it like this.” So, working with Allan, the first script of the first book I wrote was really, really long and detailed and every frame I was putting in that I wanted this angle and this is happening and these are the people in the frame and this is how they’re reacting and this and this and this and I detailed pretty much everything in the book. I started getting pages back in which Allan would take some of the parts of the script and put them in, but then sometimes he wouldn’t listen at all and I started noticing the stuff that he was changing and the stuff he was doing on his own was way better than anything I could think of. By the fourth script I could just put “they get in a fight” and Allan would make it beautiful and I wouldn’t have to worry about it. Allan was really creative. He emailed me once and said “what music should I listen to while I draw this?” and I thought that was really awesome because he wanted to get in the mindset of the whole idea and so I sent him a playlist and actually there’s a page in the book where they’re listening to music as they’re driving and you see notes kind of coming out of the speakers and that’s one of the songs that I sent him. He found the sheet music for it and put that in the book.
Kelley: Yeah, I remember that frame exactly. That’s amazing that it’s actually a song that you sent him.
Dave: Yeah. And so I really appreciated that he was so passionate about it that he wanted to make sure that he was in the same mindset that I was. That was really neat.
Kelley: Did you two ever think about doing it as a web comic instead of print, or was it always something that you wanted to get published and have a physical copy of out there in the world?
Dave: I’m a big comic book fan. I’ve been reading comics since I was a little kid and the only thing I can base any decision off of is what I would do, and I read a lot less web comics than I do physical hard copies. That’s just me. And so I wanted a hard copy just because of that reason, and also because to get a publisher and to get it out into stores and into somebody’s hand legitimizes it so much more than, “Hey, I have a website, go to it and read my comic book.” It’s a lot easier to talk about it with people when they’re holding it in their hands, and I also think you get a better range of people that way. It was always an option to go digital, and there are digital versions available for people who read digital, but I always wanted a hard copy.
Kelley: Daryl, I remember earlier you said that you found out that producing a comic book is extremely similar or exactly like producing a film. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Daryl: Absolutely. It’s basically putting all of the elements together. It’s figuring out who the creatives are going to be. It’s overseeing the creatives while letting the creatives create. It’s finding the money. It’s supervising the money. It is constantly putting out the fires – in this case, an occasional missed deadline or miscommunication with the publisher. You know its really just being on top of all the details and trying to allow the creatives not to know any of the details so they can freely take comfort in making the book. Really it’s managing a budget in a lot of ways as well, and trying to figure out different ways to come up with the money. After that first Kickstarter campaign, our initial thinking was that we’d run the campaign and sell the first issue of the book and make enough money by selling the first issue to pay for issues two through four. Once we realized that wasn’t going to happen, the plan changed to doing a second Kickstarter for issues two through four. Then when some other unforeseen costs came up, we looked for an outside investor and struck a deal with that investor and we had to bring in our lawyers to write some contracts and it was a matter of managing all of that, which is exactly what I do on all of my movies.
Kelley: Dave, what was your inspiration for The Devil is Due in Dreary?
Dave: I grew up in Utah and as a lot of film buffs know, Utah is the home of most of the classic westerns. There are places in southern Utah called Ford Country after John Ford because he shot so many of his westerns in Utah. And so I’ve always loved westerns. My grandfather, who was a father figure to me, was a big western fan, and so usually when I write something – I’ve been doing this since forever – I say to myself, “I want to write a western. What particular tropes of that genre do I want to keep and what can I turn on its head?” And I appreciate different kinds of movies for that reason. I love it when you take an idea you know – like The Wizard of Oz is a road movie without a car in it and Alien is a slasher film without a babysitter in it, and they put it in space – that kind of thing. I love that kind of idea. I love watching movies and finding inspiration in how people turn an idea on it’s head. And so that’s what I did. How can I write a western that’s not a period piece? How do I write a western that doesn’t have any horses in it? That kind of thing. And so that’s a good part of it.
Kelley: Awesome. Well, I really love the visual style of the whole piece. The entire world is really easy to fall into. One of my favorite characters is the Devil character. He has this amazing flowing coat that’s full of holes and this wonderful hat and of course the bandana across his face and his glowing red eyes. How did he come into existence? How did he materialize like that?
Dave: One thing that I love to do is to sit down and think of the craziest, weirdest stuff I can. In the script he’s called “The Figure”. I’d always had a vision in my head of an old dead cow carcass coming to life, and the movie kind of wrapped itself around that. I think that’s originally where he came from. I could hear the sounds he makes and the way he grunts in my head way before I wrote the first word.
Kelley: Now that the comic book is finished, what’s the next step to get it into a film and get that production rolling?
Daryl: Well, Dave has rewritten the screenplay that this is all based on and that’s my cue to read it shortly, but when the screenplay is ready we will start talking to directors. We’ve actually shared the finished graphic novel with a handful of people, and when we eventually have the script in shape and have a director on board, we will look to build a cast and put the financing together and we hope to be shooting next spring.
Kelley: Awesome. Dave, you mentioned growing up in Ford Country, so I’ve been wondering: who do you think would win in a showdown, John Wayne or Clint Eastwood? I’d love to hear your answer too, Daryl.
Daryl: This is definitely a Dave question. I’ll let the more creative and more film-educated person answer. All I can think of when I think of John Wayne is Nathan Lane trying to walk like John Wayne to pretend to be straight in The Birdcage.
Dave: That is one of the great “this or that” questions. There’s “Trek or Wars,” “Superman or Batman,” “Kruger or Voorhees,” “Elvis or The Beatles,” and “Clint Eastwood or John Wayne.”
For the record: Wars, Superman, Kruger, Elvis, and mother-flippin’ EASTWOOD.
The Devil is Due in Dreary
Trade Paperback in stores now.
Single issues available at www.thedevilisdueindreary.com
Digital versions available online at Comixology.