Hell Part Two: Somewhere in Australia
We first wrote Frank Cmero’s story in 2002; it didn’t really become important in our lives until the spring of 2004, when he claimed he could raise three-quarters of a million for the further development of the script GO WEST, YOU IDIOT! And the writing of the novel. But there was some important background before ShadowHawk came into the picture; in particular one producer from Prague named Tomas Krejci, who was part of a company called Milk and Honey. At first contact which was in April of that year, they seemed like a really good prospect since they worked in Europe and the U.S. and had an office in Los Angeles. We were also in contact with a Swiss director named Tomi Streiff who was interested in working with us; this happened before the first draft of the script was finished, so at the time we were confident about getting a film deal by the time the script was finished. But for the next couple of months we fought about the collaboration agreement that we eventually signed with Frank Cmero; why it should take so long and everyone should be so contentious about it was beyond my understanding, but so it went. Anthony and his team decided the film needed to be 2.5 hours long, and once the money was received we would embark on the task of enlarging the plot of the script and character development. We knew it would be as difficult as writing the original script had been, and that was no picnic, since English is not Frank Cmero’s first language, and he is not a natural writer.
On the 30th of June, 2004 Anthony wrote to introduce himself to Frank.
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Anthony Whelan, and I am the Managing Director of ShadowHawk Films, the company that represents Lost Myths Ink’s scripts, which includes yours – GO WEST, YOU IDIOT!. Debora believes it would be a good idea if I contact you, so hello and I hope your (you’re) well? I will be in touch with you over the next couple of weeks regarding the development of the script and my plans. Should you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to contact Alan or myself.
Anthony Whelan, Managing Director
In July, Scott Ferguson and I tried to contact Brian Eustace a number of times with no response. We would eventually have to abandon the attempt to get any of his notes or work from DEATH OF A SHINING STAR, but that happened yet. Brian had told me that he was having a lot of trouble – he’d been a severe car accident about a year before, and was still in a lot of pain. What we didn’t know at that time was that he had cancer – it would later spread, and by the time we were in touch with him again he had nearly died. But in July of 2004 that was all in the future, and all we knew at the time was that our former director had shut himself off from us, when we had not engineered him being fired from the film and could discern no reason for what was happening.
On July 3rd Scott wrote to me to tell me he had attempted to get some of Brian’s resources from him – he was hoping I could get him to respond. But I had to tell him:
I have tried to reach Brian as well, but he won’t reply. The real problem is that he was under contract to ShadowHawk when he worked on Shining Star, but he refused to tell them what he was doing or give them any information. He was in touch with Scarlett Johanssen’s people about playing Dorothea – Anthony is very upset himself about what has happened. He was in contact with me nearly everyday while he tried to get Brian to cooperate, and I know he did everything he could – it is a loss, I agree.
Part of the problem, as I see it, is that Brian is in a lot of pain from a bad accident he was in several years ago; he was unable to work for nearly a year and he’s still having pain management issues – he told me this himself. And while he was working on Shining Star he also had to deal with a lawsuit regarding the accident. I am wondering if he just couldn’t cope.
As far as involving him in GO WEST, I don’t see how we can do this legally, unless he and ShadowHawk heal their rift. You and Frank agreed in writing to include this project in the new contract, and Anthony has now been in touch with Frank. On that front, the final money meetings were supposed to end yesterday; Frank and his family were heading home – originally yesterday but possibly today, and I’m now waiting to hear from him regarding the arrival of the money and their arrival later this month.
I’m sorry about Brian; I’ve done everything I can on that front; however, it is clear he doesn’t plan to cooperate at this point.
It only took two days for Cathal Byrne to send a letter to Scott about Brian Eustace. While they never produced anything, never even got anything off the ground, and basically spent all their time making grandiose plans that never led anywhere, they were the quickest people I’ve ever known to jump on an imagined slight. This is what he had to say about the situation:
It has come to my understanding that you have some questions regarding the dismissal of Brian Eustace from United Film Productions International. Like yourself, Brian was a member of UFPI, and when contracted by us to direct DEATH OF A SHINING STAR, he refused to give us any information regarding the development. He also insisted that a number of my personnel be removed as he felt they did not meet his standards.
The matters of which Brian was meant to address he overlooked (don’t shoot me, I didn’t write this sentence...he did), and areas that did not concern him he felt he had a right to voice his opinion (wow, that’s one of the worst sentences I’ve ever read...see what I mean about these people being in desperate need of an editor?). While people feel Brian made progress with his work, ShadowHawk disagrees as his ignorance towards us delayed development on the projects. ShadowHawk will have no more dealings with him and Brian has no rights to SHINING STAR, GO WEST, or any other project in our list under the agreement.
I am also aware, Scott, that Brian has RIVER STREET, and I informed you before that he was not to get involved with this. Unless you inform Mr. Eustace at once that he will no longer be required for development, ShadowHawk will return the RIVER STREET series on the grounds that we refuse to work with Realt Entertainment. Please inform me of your decision A.S.A.P. Any further questions, please contact me. Thank you.
Regards, Cathal Byrne
This was the beginning of Mr. Byrne’s takeover of ShadowHawk Films. It confused me at the time that Anthony would allow his Financial Director to take control of production; I didn’t know then that Anthony Whelan had massive emotional and mental problems that were taking over his life. But Cathal Byrne was so obviously unsuited to running anything – his personality was belligerent, confrontational and just plain nasty.
The kicker here was that ShadowHawk had no rights to the television series called RIVER STREET. Written by a man in Connecticut named Tom Deedy, we knew nothing about the series and hadn’t read it. Scott Ferguson was representing Mr. Deedy at the time, and ShadowHawk not only had no rights to RIVER STREET, they had no right to tell Scott who he could work with on the project. They were attempting to get financing for the series, but no agreement had been signed with Tom Deedy regarding either the rights to RIVER STREET or even an option.
Something else came up in July that could have derailed Lost Myths Ink. I discovered that ShadowHawk offered Sandra’s husband Tom 10% of all Lost Myths Ink productions. When you consider that the writer’s payment for a script is normally 2% of the budget, this decision took me aback, especially since Tom hadn’t done any work for ShadowHawk at this point. Of the scripts ShadowHawk had under contract at the time, six were collaborations with Sandra and 13 were my solo scripts. I started my professional career much earlier than Sandra did; by the time we started working together as journalists I had published three nonfiction books and had training in scriptwriting.
We discussed paying Tom when he left his job to work with us, but the agreement was to pay him out of our join projects. He didn’t work on my solo scripts or novels, and I was already paying Amanda to do that work. So I wrote to Anthony about this:
Yesterday I met with Tom and Sand, and Tom mentioned something from your telephone conversation. He said you offered him 10% of all Lost Myths Ink productions. If this is accurate, I am wondering why? Sandra and I have established a strict accounting where money is concerned – I had to do this because I have written 13 solo scripts and we have written 6 together, not even taking novels into account.
If Tom is paid 10% of all productions, he will be paid for my scripts – but the real kicker would be that if he receives 10% of our collaborative scripts it would mean that Tom and Sandra will make more on our projects than I will. Is Tom’s report accurate? If so, can you explain this decision?
When Anthony wrote to explain, it wasn’t exactly what I had thought, but it really could have caused some problems down the road, particularly with GO WEST, YOU IDIOT!, which was owned by four people. What Anthony said was,
Tom gets 10% of the transfer fee only (what he is talking about here is the Copyright Transfer fee, approximately one-third of the total writer’s fee). It’s like an agent fee for handling the script. It is never of a large amount. Tom would make 10,000 lbs. Per script at most. You’d make ten times that. Between what he and Sandra makes you will still be in the lead. Any further questions please let me know.
What he meant by this was that I would make more money than Tom and Sandra because I’d written twice as many scripts on my own as I had with Sandra. But it also meant Sandra would make more money on our scripts than I would – she was, after all, married to Tom. I wasn’t sure how to straighten this out without losing Tom and Sandra as friends, so I didn’t mention it to them. Rather, I tried to make Anthony understand my viewpoint in this letter;
You really should have discussed this with me. It is unacceptable. Not only I am involved here; it would mean Scott and Frank would receive less of their shares on their projects.
Allow me to explain something I have been avoiding, simply because it didn’t seem to have any relevance to our dealings – now it does. Tom has never contributed to our projects in the past; he will be working for Sandra and will be paid by her, just as I pay Amanda – the only thing he will be doing for Lost Myths Ink is handling the books and reports to the accountant. Amanda does all the work involved in my projects.
My money has kept our projects afloat for over four years. I bought my house outright in 2000 – I now owe more money on it than Tom and Sandra owe on theirs – I chose to do this and don’t regret, but there is no way Sandra and Tom are going to make more money on our projects than I do. I have fronted all the money required to-date to start the company, your new contract, Frank’s new contract, the accountant...I will be reimbursed when Brank’s money arrives, but still.
Bottom line – out of 100,000 lbs on a joint project, Scott will receive 20,000 if it’s o ne of the first three, 15,000 later – that leaves 80,000. If Tom gets 10,000 that leaves 35,000 each for Sandra and myself – but it means that tom and Sandra will have made 45,000 to my 35,000. You say I will make a lot more money in the long run, but that is because I work a lot harder and have written 13 solo scripts to our 6 collaborative scripts – Sandra has, to-date, not produced one solo script or novel.
If you want to pay Tom for the work he will be doing for ShadowHawk, you need to make other arrangements. As I said above, I’m not the only one involved here – why should Scott and Frank pay Tom?
Debora (without the Lost Myths Ink team)
Hell Part Two: Somewhere in Australia