Wrote a new feature script: INCUBATOR. And I’m making the movie!

LOGLINE: When two tech bros move their startup incubator into a “murder house,” they find themselves haunted by a dead girl’s ghost, and by the former tenants, gentrified out to make way for them.

Logline’s a bit long but I’ve found that leaving out the “gentrified” part makes it sound like a comedy to some people. Of course there’s humor because I wrote it, but it’s “social horror.” It revolves around the coming jobpocalypse as AI demolishes all the jobs that consist only of what a Brookings Institute report calls “routine task content.” I call them “binder jobs” – jobs where all you do is execute rule sets from “the binder,” no exceptions, no appeal, no variations. TL;DR, don’t go into Payroll thinking that’s going to be a career in five years.

There’s a lot more to the social subtexts but, you know, explaining everything I’m putting in it just ruins the fun. Really, the best part of seeing a good movie is talking about it with friends afterwards.

It’s not ready for public viewing, since I just finished a first draft. But it’s GOOD. For the 14 people who read Stabitha? IT’S THAT GOOD.

But here’s what’s different about INCUBATOR. Why I believe, this time, I’m going to be successful:

  1. Stabitha FAILED financially, not because it wasn’t good enough. But because:
    • It wasn’t a Pringle. The majority of serial killer thriller readers want the same chip out of the can, every time. The Tortured Cop Who Can’t Sleep, thinking about the Beautiful (no uglies!) Dead Girl, while the Baroquely Inventive Cacklingly Mad Serial Killer Taunts Him. FUCK THAT SHIT. Brian O’Connor is both the cop and the psycho killer, and when he does come up against his great adversary, why, she’s such a good therapist to him, he just might let her keep on keepin’ on with her mass murdering.
    • Most people want what I call “two glass books.” That is, you can read it while drinking two glasses of wine and there won’t be a thing to confuse you or make you think or turn back to double check something; you can finish the book pleasantly plastered and not miss a trick. The “twist” will be the husband-daughter-stepmom did it (modern version of the old cliche, “the butler did it”), omg didn’t see that coming.
    • James Patterson isn’t a terrible writer. He’s a terrific salesman. His background is marketing. He writes down exactly as far as he needs to write down to capture the Pringles/Two Glass $$. I am a terrible salesman. And I created a niche product. That’s why I’m still $700 in debt on ad costs on the book I thought would make me rich.
    • My greatest adversary wasn’t other books… it was AMAZON ITSELF. They have not one but two in-house publishing imprints dedicated solely to Perpetually Pressing Pringles in the serial killer genre. The Amazon serial killer thriller best seller list is dominated by… Amazon itself. They are always going to privilege their own titles over anyone else’s.
  2. Incubator will (with a “Stabitha Maybe,” see that below too) SUCCEED because:
    • First, it’s ultra low budget (ULB) horror – a movie that can be made for as little as $100k, some people do it and do it well for even less. I chose horror because I wanted to make a feature film, and it’s the easiest genre to get funded, because the market is so voracious that it’s very hard to lose money on your investment.
    • Being so cheap, investors are more willing to let the writer be the director, even if he’s only got three shorts to his credit.
    • And… IT’S FUCKING GOOD. It’s much, much more than I set out to write. Like Stabitha, where I set out to write a funny thriller and… ended up touching my own Father Shit in ways I Did Not Plan On Ever Doing. But because I did, well, that’s why Stabbers is so good. In this case, I planned on just creating two friends running a business, and then Shit Happens. But I got derailed here too. I ended up touching deep emotional shit about friendship and love and how the friend you make, if you’re lucky, when you’re very young, who remains a close friend into adulthood, well, if you lose that you’ll never have another friendship like it.
    • I learned from watching the very best ULB horror flicks: Absentia, A Dark Song, The Battery, among others. ULB horror doesn’t have money for VFX or gore. It depends on STORY and PERFORMANCE to create such solid characters that, when the one terrible thing happens, you’re horrified not by some jump scare, but because you care so much about what happens to these people.
    • And I’m good at writing great characters, and getting good at directing actors. Watch Arriving in 4, dammit! It’s my best work. And, it features the two actors who will be starring in Incubator. I wrote Incubator for them, to their strengths, and to create something where I can push them, hard, to go even deeper as actors.
    • Boy, the one thing I learned from Stabbers is that you can write the greatest serial killer thriller since Silence of the Lambs, and fucking die at the box office.
    • So yeah, I know, Incubator can be a fucking brilliant movie, and MAYBE it’ll tank. Because market forces, because nobody knows anything, la la la. I got hit in the nuts hard when Stabitha failed, and I dunno if I’ll ever be certain of anything’s financial success again until I see the check.
    • But I doubt it. One thing I’ve seen with horror films and their audience, is that unlike serial killer thrillers, the audience is much more receptive to non-Pringle content. They want to be surprised. Sure, jump scare movies make bank, but so do movies that offer more than that.

The target has always been to get a solid version done by May 15th, the absolute final deadline for the Austin Film Festival (“The Writer’s Film Festival”). I have time to get feedback, rewrite, make it as good as it can be in that time frame.

And, to get it funded. Which will be a lot easier to do with some legit contest placement in my pocket.

And yes… you will be able to read it right here, May 15th. The whole point is to get it in front of as many eyes as possible, right? TO GET IT FUNDED. This is going to be my first feature film. Somehow, I’m going to make that happen.

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