A few years ago, someone contacted me via email about working together on a screenplay for Critical Failures. She claimed that she couldn't afford to pay me for a standard option, but she had contacts in Hollywood that she could shop the script around to.
I looked her up, and discovered that she was indeed a small fish on the Hollywood scene who had some TV cred behind her. To this day, I believe she was well-intentioned, but I ended up turning her offer down. That was no easy decision. My ego said "GO FOR IT!", but I was still working a day job at the time, and my books were my only hope of ever not having to continue working a day job. I couldn't risk losing the rights to my work.
And I reasoned that if her intentions were genuine, then there would be other similar offers down the line. If I kept putting out new books, running promotions, and attracting new fans, eventually my work would fall into the lap of someone with the interest and means to put that shit on the screen. There could only be but so many degrees of separation between me and that person, right? Hollywood would be beating down my door in no time.
Years passed, and Hollywood failed to beat down my door. But last year, some dude in Ohio politely knocked.
Gabriel Kaunitz emailed me with an offer to option the film rights to Critical Failures. When I tried to look him up, there was precious little information to be found. He didn't have much in the way of cred to offer. But what he was offering, at least from my point of view at the time, was much more valuable. Cold hard cash and a legal (and finite) contract.
I'm going to tell you something I haven't told anyone, including Gabriel (especially Gabriel) until now. I didn't believe in him.
Allow me to rephrase. I didn't believe in Gabriel's ability to make this screen adaptation happen. Why would I? I didn't know the guy, and I couldn't dig up much information on him. But I accepted his offer just the same. Why? There were a number of reasons.
1. As long as no one else offers to option the rights in the year that follows (which was a reasonably safe bet), I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. If he fails to deliver during the option period, I walk away with a bit more money in my bank account and full ownership of my rights, which I can bait some other sucker with down the line.
2. When I posted on my Facebook page a few years ago about that other offer I mentioned, my followers went nuts. It created a lot of buzz. Buzz is good. Imagine how much more buzz could be generated with an actual option on the table.
3. Gabe's a big boy. He knows the risks (or at least he's going to learn an expensive, yet valuable lesson). If he believes in my work and his talents enough to lay down the cash, who am I to argue with him?
4. What the fuck do I know? After all, I'm an indie author who's made a successful career (against pretty heavy odds) out of slinging dick jokes. Who's to say this indie producer doesn't have what it takes to adapt my dick jokes to the screen? Maybe he could actually pull something off.
The months after the option were pretty quiet. Gabriel would call me every now and again to check in, claiming to be working on the script and some kind of fundraising effort, and would occasionally ask my opinion on something, but I had no hard evidence that he was actually doing dick to move this thing forward.
I only started taking him more seriously when he sent me the short video that he intended to use for his fundraising effort. I was impressed, and appreciated all the effort he'd put into it, but had a number of ideas on how it might be improved.
It felt kind of dickish to write him an email essentially shitting all over the work he'd done, even if I did try to soften the blow with "I thought this was really great, but...". I don't know how much time, effort, and money he'd put into it, and I didn't know whether or not it was even feasible for him to make the changes I was suggesting. But for the sake of giving the project the best chance at success as possible, I would have felt almost guilty of sabotage to have not offered my honest opinion.
Gabriel implemented a lot (nearly all) of the changes I'd suggested. The result, we both agreed, was a much stronger video.
The Indiegogo fundraising campaign got off to a strong start, with many of my most die-hard fans making surprisingly generous contributions. Thanks for that, fellow Failures!
It's slowed down since then, but Gabriel went into this with backup plans in place. While he'd like to collect enough to make a full pilot episode to shop around, he's told me that he has the (perhaps more realistic) backup plan to use the money he raises to make a more impressive trailer, which he can then attempt to lure in bigger investors.
I can't say how much of an honor it is that he, and many of you, believe in my work enough to invest your time, effort, and money toward this project. I'm really coming around to believing that we can make this happen.
So tonight, while you're susceptible to whisky-induced irresponsible decisions, consider backing up your faith in my books and Gabriel Kaunitz's talent and industry savvy with a donation. Fuck knows the world could use some laughs right about now.
Have no idea what the fuck any of this is about? Go check out the books.
Join me on Facebook now so that you can later tell your friends that you liked it before the show came out.
If you've ever dreamed of watching a half-orc shit himself in your living room, this is your chance to help make that dream a reality.