If you are like the millions of others who waited in long lines, many of you dressed in weird costumes, to see the newest Star Wars movie last weekend, then you missed the opportunity to stand in line with tens of others dressed casually but neat, to see another soon to be classic – Flatlander-The Movie.
I haven’t talked about it before but, yes, there has been a movie made based on my book The Flatlander Chronicles. It is unfortunate that it was decided by the studio to release it the same weekend as the new Star Wars, but, hey, that’s show biz.At first I was reluctant to sell the rights for a movie. I was afraid that my legions of fans might be a bit horrified and think that I was just another one of those shallow, money hungry writers who will shamelessly turn over his work for a few bucks to some big shot Hollywood producer who will end up cutting out the real message and paste together and undecipherable mish-mash of plot intertwined with mind-boggling special effects to create another piece of mind candy. So, I would like to set the record straight. Of course I did!! I’m not getting any younger and things aren’t getting any cheaper.
Show me the money!
Getting this movie made was an interesting experience. I took a few trips to the West Coast to meet with the director Billy Scorsese (Martin’s brother) and Joe Pesci, who is playing me in the movie. They wanted to get some real New York attitude for my character. Pesci came back with me to New Hampshire. The plan was he was to follow me around for a few days and get a feel for me and the area, but after about six hours he got bored and left. (In all honesty, I wasn’t disappointed to see him go, he asks a lot of questions and can be a little annoying.)
All in all I’m happy how the movie came out even though they did take some artistic license.
For example, in my story about Raking The Roof, Scorcese decided to skip the parts that made it funny and instead focused on the Flatlander’s failure in not being able to clean his roof correctly, causing an ice build up and soon a major water leak into the house. The climax being a scene of the downtrodden Flatlander sitting at a drenched dining room table, his wife and children leaving him, an uneaten piece of bad New Hampshire style pizza in front of him.
At first I protested but Scorsese explained to me that movies need conflict and resolution. The Flatlander does eventually come to terms with his weaknesses, picks himself up by his boot straps and conquers his demons by learning to rake the roof correctly and also start bringing home more things from the dump and it all ends happily ever after. It also has a great soundtrack.
So far there’s been a good buzz about the movie and one of the critic even called it “the best movie ever made about a Flatlander.”
There was some controversy, which never hurts when you are trying to promote something. Seems a bunch of New Hampshire natives got upset by how they were being portrayed in the movie and were planning to protest the Hollywood premiere, Variety magazine even had it on their cover “Finished Flatlander Flick Fuels Fiery Furor.”
It all really ended up being no big deal as the natives decided they really didn’t want to leave New Hampshire, drive to Boston, go through security and then wait around just to sit in crowded coach class all the way to California. New Hampshire natives really don’t like to leave town if they don’t have to.
A few of the natives did show up for the premiere here in New Hampshire, but most of them got a little nervous when they came upon the costumed Star War fans, which was playing in the theatre next door, so they left.
As far as the crowd for Flatlander-The Movie? There were a few loyal followers. You could tell because they were dressed in new jeans, clean sneakers and a neat buttoned down Oxford shirt. I was flattered.
I’m not sure how the movie will do over all, but that really doesn’t matter to me. I’m proud of my stories and, as a writer, that is all that really matters. Plus, I already cashed the check.
Brendan is the author of “The Flatlander Chronicles” and “Best Of A F.O.O.L. In New Hampshire” both are available at www.BrendanTSmith.com