We go behind the curtain with “Movie Men: Crowded Theater” (interview)
Earlier in April, writer Jeremy Lott launched an Indiegogo campaign for Movie Men: Crowded Theater, an all-new one-shot graphic novel written by Lott and featuring illustrations by Doug Curtis. We got a chance to have a friendly back and forth with Lott, who was gracious enough to respond to our questions on the Movie Men project.* As always, the answers below are represented “as written.”
The Splintering (TS): Movie Men: Crowded Theater certainly reads like the work of someone who used to work in a movie theater. Is this true?
Jeremy Lott (Jeremy): No, but I used to go to an insane number of movies in the theater every year — over 50 and I think one year I got up to 70. You go to that many movies, you start to notice things.
TS: Your story follows the adventures of a few teenage theater employees who are confronted with movie monsters come to life. What other stories or properties would you say were an inspiration for Movie Men? It reminds me a bit of a movie-inspired version of Captain N: the Game Master.
Jeremy: The way I’ve come to describe it to people is Archie meets Ghostbusters, with a touch of Last Action Hero. That’s true, but the main inspiration was just going to all those movies. At Regal, they changed uniforms so they looked a little bit like X-Men uniforms. I started imagining what it would be like if the workers there were a super team.
Then one day I saw something that I’d seen hundreds of times before: An usher came in with his glow stick to make sure the exit was closed and everything was in order. And I wondered, “What if he found a bomb?” A lot of the story fell into place after that.
TS: Is the boss man Carl based on a real person?
Jeremy: He’s a composite character, but many people have had a boss like this. He’s cheap and he’s a stickler for doing things in a certain way. But I’ll let readers in on something: He has a deep, dark secret in his past.
TS: Since the pages for Movie Men are already completed, have you found that it helps to have a “finished” project to pitch to potential backers? How much of an advantage do you think a complete book has over one that is still in-progress?
Jeremy: It’s helped a bit with selling people. I probably need to make a bigger deal out of it to sell more.
But I think the real payoff will be on the next crowdfunding effort. I can say for myself that when Indiegogos or Kickstarters deliver a good book to me quickly, the next project is what I call an “instaback.”
TS: Have you received any ideas or feedback from backers and thought “Oh, that’s a good idea!” but it’s too late in the game to shift gears?
Jeremy: The first cut of Movie Men was 16 pages. Because of all that I had to do to introduce these characters and concepts, I cut a lot of corners. Too many. A few advance readers said that there really needs to be more explanation. I listened to them and added 4 pages at two different points in the story to do just that.
TS: You note in the Indiegogo campaign page that you have previously worked as a journalist. How did that experience prepare you for writing fiction? How do the different writing processes compare?
Jeremy: My journalism background helps with a lot of the technical aspects of writing, and also the discipline of just getting it out there, hitting your word count. It didn’t help me with writing dialogue, though.
The thing that helped with dialogue was having the designs of these characters so that I could think of them as something other than me. They now say things I don’t expect.
TS: It looks like you gave your artist Doug Curtis a chance to artistically flex his horror muscles just a bit. How would you characterize your working relationship with Curtis? Can you describe your collaboration process?
Jeremy: I told him roughly what the characters should look like and he nailed it on the first take. Those designs helped me to write the first cut of the script and, again, he nailed it. Very few changes were necessary.
I’m somewhat flexible. The way I think of it is, sure, these are my ideas and my characters, but I’m not an artist and I want to benefit from all of his considerable expertise. He’s done webcomics for years and knows a LOT more than I do about comic book storytelling.
TS: What would you say is your target audience for Movie Men?
Jeremy: It’s a pretty wide audience. If you like old monster movies, you’ll like this. If you like stories where a bunch of teenagers have to find their way out of weird dilemmas, you’ll probably love this.
TS: Besides comics, in what other entertainment mediums do you see the Movie Men story? It seems like it could make for a good co-op video game.
Jeremy: Man that’s a good idea. My kid brother is the gamer in the family. I’ll have to run it by him. Other than that, I could see this on TV or even the big screen.
TS: Movie Men is planned as a one-shot, but it certainly reads as though there are possibilities to follow up with sequels or other stories. I don’t expect for you to spoil anything, but if the Movie Men campaign is successful, are there any plans to revisit the world you created in future projects?
Jeremy: I would like for there to be future Movie Men stories. Next up would probably be Dr. Frankenstein and his monster.
TS: Excluding those that already appear in Movie Men, which movie monster would you like to have a crack at in potential future books? Did any copyright concerns prevent you from using particular characters?
Jeremy: Copyright would probably keep me from using Godzilla, though I hear King Kong might be available.
TS: A year from now, how would you describe success for the Movie Men project?
Jeremy: A year from now, I’d like the campaign for the next Movie Men book to be going gangbusters.
TS: What would you do with the power of the Beyonder?
Jeremy: Pit hot dogs against tacos, obviously.
We would like to once again thank Jeremy Lott for taking the time to answer our questions and to have some fun with us. You can also visit the Movie Men: Crowded Theater Indiegogo page here.
*Note: A copy of Movie Men: Crowded Theater was provided to The Splintering for the purposes of this interview.