Interview: Script Pimp's Chadwick Clough on Producing 'Rogues Gallery'
By Cindy Rinaldi | 27-Jul-2009
With a passion for independent voices, Chadwick Clough recently produced "The Living Wake," a dark comedy about a man who, expecting to die soon, invites others to his wake where he plans to give a short performance before dropping dead on the spot. Scripted by and starring Mike O'Connell and directed by Sol Tryon, "Living" found smashing critical success winning awards at the Austin Film, Woodstock, CineVegas International and Big Apple Film Festivals. Currently, Clough is producing "Rogues Gallery," an action-comedy about a battle that ensues among groups of government spy teams in an underground facility after their boss is assassinated. Penned by Brian Watanabe and directed by Fouad Mikati, the movie features Rob Cordrry, Ving Rhames and Ellen Barkin.
Clough didn't break into the movie industry through a typical avenue. His story began with a vision for a matchmaking service between writers and Hollywood executives that became Script Pimp, a company owned and operated by Clough. Since its 2000 inception, Script Pimp has expanded to include writer workshops, writing contests and a movie production arm, becoming a portal through which some writers have garnered options, representation and sales. Clough then launched a live comedy show, now in its sixth year of monthly performances at the prestigious Hollywood Improv. Aptly titled "Circus of Joy," the hilarious event offers a mix of standup, skits and musical comedy, peppered with upbeat audience involvement. Drawing on talent, networking, and personal experience from the first two endeavors, Clough moved into filmmaking. Building one success upon another, Clough recently spoke with us about these ventures and how they came together in the business of making movies.
Q: How did you get involved in so many different aspects of entertainment?
A: I studied screenwriting and film at Santa Clara University, then moved to Los Angeles after graduating and began working in production. A friend got me a job as a reader for two production companies and for an independent producer who had a deal with Showtime. Making my introductions around town, I was taken aback at the number of unreviewed scripts, literally piling up having not been read. So a friend and I had the idea of creating a "matchmaking" service to assist unproduced and/or aspiring writers--essentially, a filter between writers and executives which became Script Pimp.
In 2003, I started a monthly comedy show at the Hollywood Improv, "Circus of Joy," with the intent of having our writers interact in a community, as well as to build rapport with top comedians in the hopes of casting them in a project.
While our Script Pimp Writers Workshop was gaining momentum, we decided to launch a competition to bring further exposure for these talented writers. Soon after our first competition in 2003, the grand prize winner sold his script, "Slammin'," to Warner Brothers for six figures. Around this time, producer/director David Ocañus contacted me looking for a writer to turn his thriller concept into a feature film. So I introduced Robert Nelms, one of Script Pimp's recommend writers from the Workshop, to David, and the project, "Between," was ultimately completed, premiered at Sundance, and aired on Lifetime. Toward the end of 2005, Script Pimp opened a production arm and raised half a million dollars for the independent comedy "The Living Wake." Script Pimp served as a story consultant and I went on to produce and line produce. The experience of these projects in particular helped prepare me for a larger budget film such as "Rogues Gallery."
Q: What made you want to produce "Rogues Gallery"?
A: You know, I remember exactly where I was and how I felt after the first read. I couldn't put it down and ended up driving to Sean McKittrick's house right after I read it to say, "Stop whatever you're doing and read this." (I had met Sean, producer of "Donnie Darko," years earlier. Our mutual interest in unique independent spec scripts led to him coming on board as a consultant for Script Pimp.) I just remember thinking, "I'd go see this movie in a second and it could be really cool. The way it crosses genres was intriguing--it's a whodunit, comedy, and action packed together.
Q: Was Brian, the original writer, involved?
A: Definitely, yes, from early on we all worked well to get the script industry-ready. It's important to have a writer that understands collaboration with multiple producers and companies and is able to work in that environment.
Our main hurdle was the fact that "Rogues" is an ensemble cast and that can make financiers nervous (based on box office history). "Rogues" was such an original premise, we wanted to wait until a director was attached before making any substantial changes to the script. From 2004, we had Creative Artists Agency backing the project. We did present the script to numerous actors, as our first approach was to get name talent attached. At certain points, there were stars attached, but we were unable to secure proper financing, even with great talent. The casting ended up happening long after the director and financing were in place.
In 2007, we presented the script to Kevin Turen at Infinity Media ("Capote"). At that stage, he and Michael Ohoven came on board as producers. Infinity was instrumental in raising the necessary capital for a feasible budget.
Q: When did the director come onboard?
A: Infinity was looking for a project for Fouad to direct in late 2007, early 2008 I believe. Infinity had presented Fouad with over a hundred scripts before he was handed "Rogues." Fouad, now a close friend, recalls having the same initial experience as I'd had after the first read. His words in our first meeting were, "I can bring the story to life. This is the one. I love it." And from there, we haven't looked back.
Q: What's up next?
A: I recently presented Script Pimp recommend "Totaled" by Andy Demsky to Darko Entertainment. They optioned the spec and the project is now in development. We are again out to actors and directors.
Q: What percent of scripts get a recommend from Script Pimp
A: We end up giving about 2 to 3 recommends per month. Or, about 3 to 5 percent of the total submissions. We also have a consider category that makes up another 3 to 5 percent.
Q: What has changed with Script Pimp over the years?
A: Our submissions to the Workshop have continued to grow, as well as the competition. In 2008, we received almost 2,000 entries, with more expected for this year. We're in the second year of our TV writing competition, which we hope to gradually expand, since there are far more opportunities in television writing, and the competition could be an excellent way for young writers to launch their careers. We're also in the process of adding a great deal of additional content and functionality to our Writers Database. An entire new back-end will be launched in the summer of 2009 and all the current subscribers will of course enjoy these major upgrades at no additional cost.
After the 2008 competition, I introduced Evan Daugherty and his grand prize-winning script "Shrapnel" to Jake Wagner at Energy Entertainment. The script made it on to "The Blacklist," and just recently, Evan secured a major writing assignment, the "He-Man" script for Warner Bros. We've been instrumental in aiding other writers in smaller option agreements and with gaining literary representation. In addition, former Script Pimp Workshop writer Mark Mahon had his recommend screenplay "Strength and Honour" produced, where he also served as director. The film has won numerous awards and accolades in festivals worldwide. [Produced by Maron Pictures and starring Michael Madsen, a sequel is in progress.] We also did numerous free sets of notes on Alyssa Lobit's recommend script "The Things They Carry" which wrapped production at the end of 2008.
In efforts to accommodate the various needs of our writers, Script Pimp continues to diversify. In the last year alone we have made huge in-roads helping writers break into the studio system, as well as setting up financing for our own indie projects. With our reputation for finding and nurturing talent, along with our great industry relationships, Script Pimp is poised to assist an even larger pool of aspiring writers in the coming years. Although we have never collected a percentage from our writer clients, nor do we plan to in the near future, for us, success stories are not just an important thing, they're the only thing.