I outline for Cynthia the characters I envisioned and the broadstrokes of the story I wanted to tell. I had particular actors I wanted to work with in this so characters were shaped for Kevin Sorbo, Christopher Lambert, Yancy Butler, Leah Cairns and especially Victoria Maurette, my star from Left for Dead and Bulletface.
Cynthia begin writing in November 2007 and had a first draft by early January 2008. I sent that draft to Hernan in Argentina to see if we could still base the shoot there. He confirmed it was possible. I imagined a North African setting for the movie as I felt that lent itself to the imagery and feel of what I was seeing.
So I set about putting the stars and financing in place. I made my deal which was no monetary compensation in exchange for irrevocable final cut and total artistic control. All the movies I’ve done since 2004 have been this way. No longer about doing movies as a living but as creative statements. I found its too rough to receive pay and then see your work mangled.
We got enough raised to make offers to Kevin and Christopher and sent them the scripts. Both responded, to my joy, positively. At that point we began foreign sales to raise the bulk of the funds needed. It was tricky because we knew we could raise around $500,000 in pressales but the key was whether Argentina could fit within that number plus leave enough over for the star salaries. Victoria also reacted positively and she began training for the shoot. I can’t say enough positive things about Victoria. She is not only talented and beautiful but incredibly professional and as dedicated an artist as you’d ever find anywhere. A super high quality human.
I had hoped for 24 days of shooting but that quickly dropped to 20, then to 18, to 16 and finally 11 days. It was crushing to me. I wasn’t sure, at my age, whether I could get it all done in 11 days but that’s all we could afford even in Argentina. It was hugely ambitious.
About this time (February 2008) we began talking to distributors about coming aboard as a North American distributor and financier. I also spoke with Sony, Lions Gate and Magnolia Entertainment. All were interested. We got a firm prebuy offer from Starz/ Anchor Bay for North America. And we were championed at Starz by a very astute and wonderful Australian distributor named John Vale who ran Starz Australia. He had had success with my past films.
The package and script began going out. And everything seemed to be clicking. Funny how we can be fooled by our own optimism. This was just the only bright spot leading to 34 months of Hell.
Who could’ve seen it coming? Not me.