EricM stopped by the Mad Scientist Film’s Laboratory to discuss himself and his upcoming film “It’s A Wild World”, which is set to be released by Flip Brothers Studio on June 27.
Tesla: You seemed to have tackled quite the grande project with It’s A Wild World. Where did the inspiration behind this saga come from?
EricM: I’m trying to figure out the best way to answer this question. I’ve been batting around the notion of writing a crime project with Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg for a while now in various forms. I’d started a couple different projects and actually got quite far in one script before my interest kind of faded. Which is kind of my M.O., as I also have a hard drive full of other half-finished and unrealized ideas and stories. So I was kind of sitting there with these various semi-stories that were all crime driven and I found myself in this state of suspension where I couldn’t decide where to direct my energies. Basically I wasn’t writing anything and just mulling over these half-dozen unfinished films I’d started.
So initially it was kind of an exercise to try and jam together these various stories and let them collide with each other to see what the reaction was. I thought it might provide some spark of inspiration or at the very least get me back into the creative flow. I didn’t expect it to become so all-consuming. But I’ve always loved films that really examine an isolated world and the various power structures and relationships within, so it became kind of addicting to weave together these various plotlines and characters into a (hopefully) cohesive whole. I had no intention of going this BIG when I started but it’s been such a joy to work on. I hope it’s entertaining for others but if nothing else it’s been a really gratifying experience to tackle these archetypal crime characters and try to figure out how they’d function in the power structures of this world. It’s been a lot fun.
Tesla: What sort of underworld does this film consist of, and how is this world going to be on display on a larger scale, like you mentioned?
EricM: The short answer is this underworld consists of everything. It’s a completely fictional world, akin to a sort of “hyper reality”. It’s recognizable as our own world but it’s also very stripped down so there’s no real markers like “Hey we’re in New York. Or we’re in Chicago”. I really wanted to examine the operation of a criminal syndicate in a very in depth, realistic way, but also in extreme isolation. So the fictional world allowed me to cut ties with the constraints of reality while hopefully getting at a more emotional/psychological honesty.
The film depicts the criminal underworld of a particular region known as the “Five Cities”. “It’s A Wild World” takes place mostly in Newford City, which is the center for gambling in the Five Cities and also the epicenter of the criminal underworld at the start of “A Crime Saga”. Each of the five cities has a criminal leader and they all operate within one power structure. The film takes place when that power structure is threatened and the various cities each make bids and vie for control. So we also get to spend time in Stirling, which is an old city that’s become lost to drugs as well as the infamous Capital, which is the political center of the Five Cities and wields a lot of control and influence over the crime world. The other cities will be explored in later installments of “A Crime Saga”.
Tesla: Tell us a little about Tom Hank’s character, who you briefly described as an “injured Detective on medical leave who gets drawn into a seedy underworld when he tries to protect a friend.”
EricM: Right, Tom Hanks plays Geoff Kelly. At the start of the film he’s on medical vacation in Saint Lauren which is a tropical island known for their resorts and drug manufacturing. He’s been shot in the hip and needs a cane to walk. He meets a local girl named Iris on the island who is being seduced by some powerful criminals who want to take her back to the cities. He follows her to the cities in an effort to try and take care of her and finds himself accidentally getting involved in this violent power struggle for control of the crime world.
Tom Hanks is interesting because he has this inherent goodness that seems to radiate from him. His character is a guy who’s been a cop his whole life and who’s seen a lot of bad things. He’s lost his wife and daughter, who left him because of his devotion to his job and now he’s been shot and can barely walk. If anyone has a right to be a cynic it’s him but he’s still got this hope and belief in goodness about him. His character has a real need to try and protect the innocent even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
Tesla: Why should people go and see It’s A Wild World? What does this film have to offer, or do differently, that other films of similar nature lack or don’t do?
EricM: I think because it’s a different approach to the crime genre than we’ve seen on HTG before. I’ve never been a big sci-fi/fantasy guy but I’ve always enjoyed the concept of world-building that’s inherent in those genres. I’ve tried to bring that same approach to the crime world. You’ve got all these archetypal characters, the good hearted cop, the femme fatale, the heel with a heart of gold, all mashing into each other in hopefully unexpected and entertaining ways. At the end of the day, this is a film I’m extremely attached to emotionally. I loved writing it and I loved putting all my favourite things into one story and seeing what came of it. It’s been a lot of fun for me and if it’s even half as enjoyable for viewers than I think it’ll be a great experience.
Tesla: It’s no secret that your go to genre is crime. What is it about the crime genre that appeals to you as a writer?
EricM: The duality of it. I think the crime genre can really be the perfect genre to examine society as a whole. The genre is all about men and women who are trying to survive, get ahead and prosper which are universal struggles for anyone in life. But what’s great about the crime genre is it allows for those struggles to play out in a very dramatic landscape with really rich and colorful characters. I hope that my films are entertaining for audiences but that they also recognize an inherent kind of truth to the people involved and their methods for achieving their goals.
Tesla: What does the future look like for Frontline Films?
EricM: Well, I’m working on “A Crime Saga Part Two” which should hopefully be in theatres this fall. I’ve also got another film lined up at Horizon for hopefully late summer. That will be totally different thing, focusing on a young romance, so look for that. Otherwise, I’ve got a couple ideas for some adaptations that will hopefully be released in the coming months as well. I’m riding a creative high so I’m hoping it translates into many more releases at HTG in the near future.
Tags: A Crime Saga, EricM, Flip Brothers Studio, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks