What are you working on right now?
We bought the rights to an award-winning novel called The Note. It’s based on a real story about the last remaining seconds of a plane crash, a commercial flight from New York to Tampa. The black box is recovered and they find out that it wasn’t terrorists but mechanical failure, and they discover that in the last remaining seconds of the flight. This father, as the plane is going down, he ends up grabbing an airplane napkin and, as panic ensues around him, he has the serenity to write on the napkin “Dear T: All is forgiven. I love you. Dad.”
That note is found in the wreckage and brought to our heroine, who’s a newspaper columnist named Peyton MacGruder. She realizes the absolute intensity and weight of this piece of paper. This represents the last communication from someone on that plane. Like all good stories, at the end of the journey not only does our heroine find the note’s rightful owner, but her own life is changed for having taken the journey in the first place, and she uncovers in her own life where she hasn’t forgiven her own father.
How do you feel about directing something like this as opposed to something like The Journey, which was obviously a much different type of feature?
From a tactical standpoint, they’re extremely different. I don’t have the whole crew on a documentary, and there’s no helicopter shot necessarily—although I did get one of those for the documentary. I think the difference between the documentary and the feature, coming from a place where I haven’t done a feature (but I have done some short films), when you’re making a documentary, you are winging it, at least at my level. If I was an Academy Award-winning documentary maker who was well-funded and had a whole crew, that would be different, but when you do it in the guerilla filmmaking style like I did, you become extremely creative and innovative.
All the shots of the bus going down the road or over a bridge, we would go into town and have to meet somebody and ask them if they could come out for the day and let us use their vehicle for the second vehicle to get the shot. Or we would queue up a bunch of volunteers. You become much more innovative learning how to make up shots when you’re making a documentary, and I’m excited about taking the skills with actual resources to tell a feature film story.
Who’s financing the film?
We have lemonade stands all across the country staffed by kids, and we’re taking 15% from each of them. (laughs) It’s a long financial process, but we’ll get there.
I know, it will take a while.
Actually, we have investors and we’re now looking for more of them. We’re meeting with studios now. We have an asset now that’s different from The Journey and after 10 years of working on one project, we’ve proven that we don’t go away. (laughs) So we have a little bit of credibility. Not much, but more than we had 10 years ago.
Well, you got yourself in to see Henry Winkler.
I’m going to see him this week. He’s such a powerful man and a kind guy. Even today I’ll drive down the road and Henry will call me and I’ll be stuck in rush hour traffic. I’ll want to roll down my window and yell to everybody, “Hey, I’m talking to the Fonz!” But nobody would believe me. (laughs)
Probably. So do you think the secret to success in life is to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you?
Undeniably. I definitely think it’s imperative. I don’t think it’s a luxury that if your objective is to be successful in the world. I don’t think there’s any quicker way to do it than to model your behavior after people who are already doing it.
You either quit because it’s too daunting of a task to get there, or you get really innovative really fast. By design, I’ve always had to step up and become really creative in how I pursue my dream. And in pursuit of that, I had to ask people for help and found out that asking people for help is exactly what people do. It’s kind of funny, it’s an oxymoron: asking for help is the most humble thing you can do, admitting you don’t know something.
Get the rest of the interview in part three of ERIC SAPERSTON’S INCREDIBLE JOURNEY>>>
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