How can a film starring Peter Dinklage, Ryan Kwanten, Danny Pudi and Summer Glau sit on a shelf for two years?
It's popular for writers to grumble about the development process, and I've certainly got plenty of horror stories, both mine and those of my friends, about things that were said or done during notes meetings. Honestly, though, if you're paying a writer, then that's an expected part of things, and it's something that good writers learn how to handle with grace and with wit.
The true enemy right now, especially as the old filmmaking model starts to disintegrate and new models seem to spring up almost weekly, is the shady world of international financing. The absolute worst notes meeting I've ever had doesn't begin to compare to the amoral, unethical, and downright criminal things I have personally observed during the financing part of making a film. One bad deal can haunt you for years, and trusting the wrong person to be part of the financing team can absolutely destroy not only your film, but you as a filmmaker.
I know Joe Lynch, the director of "The Knights Of Badassdom." We met at an event for "30 Days Of Night" several years ago, and we've stayed in touch since. He's a smart, funny filmmaker who adores horror movies, and anyone who has ever seen the interstitials he creates each year for FrightFest with his partner in crime, Adam Green, knows how much the genre means to him. Lynch took a sequel that should have been, by all right, junk, and he turned it into something funny and gory and worthwhile with "Wrong Turn 2," and he's been working to get another feature done since then. He was part of "Chillerama," an anthology film that had a rocky production history, and I'm sure when he was offered the chance to direct "Badassdom," he saw it as an opportunity to finally do things right.
When we saw the presentation for the film in Hall H at Comic-Con in 2011, it looked like they were well on their way to making a great, groovy little cult horror comedy that would fully demonstrate Lynch's sensibility. His cast featured Summer Glau, Danny Pudi, Ryan Kwanten, Steve Zahn, and Peter Freakin' Dinklage, and the footage brought the house down when they showed it. And then…
… well, nothing, actually. It dropped off the face of the earth. I've heard some rumblings since then about what was going on, but when a filmmaker is going through something like that, the last thing you want to do is poke your nose into it. I figured if things got rough, Lynch or the producers could easily reach out to discuss the process with the horror press.
Today, the wall of silence seems to have finally fallen, and that's because sometime this afternoon, in Century City, there is a version of the film screening for buyers that does not reflect the vision of Lynch or the cast. The history of how the film got sliced and diced was laid out on a website that appears to have been created by someone who had some money in IndieVest, the financing entity that paid for the film. It is a profoundly ugly story, and I wish I could say this is an anomaly and that Lynch stumbled on the one morally suspect jackass in this business. I can't, though, and I've got a few Wade Bradleys of my own out there, their stupid piggy fingerprints long since having smudged up various material of mine to the point where I don't recognize it anymore. It made me ache to read the story today, but I wanted to direct your attention to it, especially if you happen to be one of the buyers who plans to attend that screening today.
HERE IS THE WHOLE SORDID STORY AS LAID OUT BY ONE INDIEVEST INVESTOR.
Joe Lynch did not contact me to send me the link to the story today. I think he's behaved above reproach so far. I have no idea if he'd be willing to return to the film if given the opportunity or if he's moved on to other things. I know that the TV series "Holliston" has given him something to focus on in the meantime, and he's had great success with that creatively. That show seems to be a very real expression of what he and Adam Green are like as collaborators, and it has a very distinct voice. I'm willing to bet that at one point, so did "The Knights Of Badassdom," and I would very much like to get an opportunity to see the film as originally intended.
Please… if you're one of the buyers going today, take the time to read that story, and don't let Wade Bradley burn down the efforts of all of these artists without holding him accountable for what he's done. I still think the film's cast automatically makes it an attractive pick-up, and if someone's willing to spend the time and money to finish it the right way, I suspect there's a great little movie here.
But someone's going to have to do the right thing for that to happen, and they're going to have to undo all the wrong things that Bradley's done so far. It does not sound like it's going to be easy.
And while I did my best to find a way to reach out to Wade Bradley today to ask him for his side of this story, I was unable to track down even the most basic contact information for him. I'd love to hear him explain what he's done and why, and I'd be more than willing to share his version of things here.
Until then, check out the trailer that was shown at Comic-Con and imagine what might have been:
"The Knights Of Badassdom" screens today for buyers in Century City, and I pray it's not the last time anyone sees it.