Friday, March 31, 2017

Terror in Ypsilanti Film Prospect

Since the publication of Terror In Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked in August 2016, my book has been well-received by readers. Most of my original goals for writing it have been met. But there is one prospect I want to pursue--bringing the book to the screen.

Recently, I contracted with Voyage Media--a Los Angeles-based film development company specializing in turning indie books into screen projects. Their team created a Producer's Action Plan for Terror In Ypsilanti which includes an accurate abstract of the book, a demographic assessment, a market analysis, and a producer's recommendations for adaptation.

The next step is developing a screenplay. On the strength of Voyage Media's study, they presented me with two options--a two-hour stand-alone movie or a limited cable series. The movie option is viable, but due to the length and breadth of the source material, only a portion of the story could be told to create a "who-dunnit" mystery movie.

Tap on link at end of this post.
In 2013, the Investigation Discovery channel did a scripted docu-drama about John Norman Collins on their Crimes to Remember program entitled "A New Kind of Monster." By focusing only on one of the seven murders, the bulk of the story was never developed. As producer Rebecca Morton told me, there is only so much story that can be told in a forty-three minute episode. As amazing as it would be to see Terror in Ypsilanti on the big screen in a two-hour movie, telling only a slice of the story does not appeal to me. That has already been done.

Option two was preparing a pilot script for a limited cable series like Netflix's "Making a Murder" or HBO's "The Jinx: The Life and Death of Robert Durst." A six episode mini-series (one season) would allow a more complex look into the crimes of John Norman Collins and give a deeper sense of time and place to properly ground the story.

This option makes more sense from the promotional aspect too. Cable television consumes large quantities of material and provides many outlets for true crime material. The prospects for success are greatly increased. Target networks would include Investigation Discovery, Oxygen, HBO, Showtime, BBC, CNN, Netflix, and Amazon.

Because John Norman Collins is not a nationally known serial killer, a one-and-done movie does not provide time to grow an audience the way series television can. It seems clear to me that the small screen option is a better fit for Terror in Ypsilanti.

Voyage Media's development team noted that most true crime writers are not from the areas they write about. They feel I am uniquely qualified to tell this story. As a member of the Ypsilanti community at the time of these crimes, I personally know many of the first-hand participants depicted in my book. This fresh storytelling perspective may attract the attention of producers.

While a screenplay for a limited series pilot is being written, my Producer's Action Plan is currently entered in Voyage Media's database where production companies search for new material. Should a producer or acquisitions editor show an interest, I will be contacted directly. The process is fraught with failure at every turn, but at the very least, I will have a screenplay to use as a promotional tool rather than a vague idea to attract interest in the project. Even without a screenplay treatment, one media company is showing an interest.

http://fornology.blogspot.com/2015/10/a-crime-to-remember-john-norman-collins.html