Carter Blanchard is a great example of talent meeting persistence. His first writing credit is a short film he directed in 1989. Since that time, he has landed numerous writing assignments and sold multiple spec scripts including “Virus” (1994), “Frigid & Impotent” (1995), ”Bedbugs” aka “Dead Asleep” (2004), and “Near Death” (2007). For anyone working in the entertainment industry, that is a long stretch of time. However it is with his most recent spec script “Glimmer” that Carter’s fortunes took a quantum leap, the script selling in a bidding war and making the 2012 Black List and Hit List.
Here are links to the six installments of the entire interview:
Part 1: “I think I was reading 15 to 20 scripts a week and doing coverage on them, while also working as his assistant. But that was the best way to learn how to not write.”
Part 2: “I was in a place of desperation. I hadn’t landed a job in the 16 months since I changed my representation. I hadn’t given my new agent anything that he could sell yet. I was feeling a lot of pressure.”
Part 3: “The next day I went in and met Mr. Spielberg. He was incredibly nice and really complimentary about the script. I kept thinking maybe he wasn’t really there and I was talking to a hologram because it was so surreal.”
Part 4: “When you’re starting out, you’ve got to put in the hours, you’ve got to put in the time. Part of sustaining a career is sheer persistence. Just writing and writing and writing and not giving up.”
Part 5: “I try and come up with something familiar that is done in a way I haven’t seen before. That’s a big aspect of how I think when I’m trying to generate new ideas.”
Part 6: “Most of the time, I would say, it’s terrible. You wince your way to the finish line.”
Since my interview with Carter, he landed a gig adapting the video game “Spy Hunter” into a movie. Carter was kind enough to answer a couple of follow-up questions about that project:
Scott: How did you get involved with Spy Hunter?
Carter: It came to me as an open writing assignment in December. I had a lot of other projects brought my way but had been on Glimmer 24/7 until the winter holidays. Spy Hunter was one of the first projects I could seriously consider. It had actually been run by me back in 2004 when it was set up at Universal, but I couldn’t crack a take on it then. It was an old video game that I’d played in arcades when I was a teenager and had no story to speak of.
But this time, Ruben Fleischer was attached to direct and he’d put together a very compelling document that piqued my interest. I also wanted to do a spy movie, but not one we’ve seen before, like the Bourne/Bond films. Ruben wanted to make Spy Hunter distinctly American, with a tone of grounded comedy, a la the first “Lethal Weapon” movie. Comedy out of circumstance, not a string of deliberate jokes. So the action is real, but funny situations arise naturally out of character conflict.
I took a meeting with the producers and had some ideas they liked. My biggest idea – the villain’s plot – was straight from an unfinished spec I worked on in 2011. Which just goes to show that you’re never really wasting time if you keep writing… even when things aren’t gelling in the moment.
From there, Dan Lin and Ruben were instrumental in shaping my take before I pitched the studio. They had some great notes of their own, particularly about the main character. So I worked their changes in, re-pitched a few weeks later got the job.
Scott: What are some of the challenges you’re facing in adapting a video game into a movie?
Carter: I only just started writing it, but as far as putting the story together goes, it was building from the ground up because the video game really has no story to speak of. I know there were subsequent versions of the game after the arcade version, but I didn’t play them and don’t know anyone who did. So the awareness, at least for my generation, is based on the game with the 1983 Camaro. When the project was announced I read a lot of negative comments because of that very aspect. I’m kind of taking that sentiment as a personal challenge, because the very thing people were criticizing is what we’re using to our advantage in the story. Besides that, there are lots of insane chase scenes with super-fast weaponized sports cars. I’m going to have a blast writing this.
Carter is repped by Paradigm and Madhouse Entertainment.
You can follow Carter on Twitter: @CartBlanch.