A few months ago, after the announcement of The Shotgun Diaries, I got a mysterious e-mail.
"Hi John!" it told me. "I got a promotion!"
Now, I get a lot of e-mail and I didn't recognize the name immediately. I was happy that someone got a promotion--especially in times like these--but wasn't exactly sure what this had to do with me. The e-mail continued.
"I just saw your video for The Shotgun Diaries on Youtube and I have an idea. Can you contact me?" I saw the contact information below his name. It contained the name of a production studio in Hollywood and the word "producer" shortly thereafter.
Needless to say, I called immediately.
That was a few months ago. Since then, I've been writing like mad. See, when I made The Shotgun Diaries, I included a little bit of opening fiction. But not just one piece: five different pieces. I scattered them in the copies I was bringing to GenCon. So, if you got a copy at GenCon, that opening piece of fiction is different than the opening fiction four fifths of the other people who bought the game got. Each of the pieces is a journal entry: a little slice of life in the apocalypse. Neal (that producer guy) loved those and he had an idea. Why not make a series of short films about each of the narrators? They're all in the same world, so they have a common continuity. Kind of like The Twilight Zone with common characters. The Soccer Mom. The Scientist. The Geek. The Girlfriend. The Baddest Zombie Survivor of All Time. Each of the nameless characters in the short pieces I wrote would have their own episode and we'd continue to explore the world through the point-of-view of these (and other) characters.
I thought the idea was brilliant. I also suggested we link them all with a single diary left behind in a kind of safe room where people could find it and read the stories others left behind. Cautionary tales, tales of despair and terror, stories of inspiration and hope.
I went to LA a couple weekends ago and got to watch the shooting of the "soccer mom" episode. The picture above is our aforementioned heroine. It was such a surreal experience to see characters I created walking around. Watching them. Seeing them interact. And the actors were fantastic. And the director was fantastic. And... well, hell... everything was fantastic.
And the highlight came when one of the actors had a question about his character (the Baddest Zombie Survivor of All Time) and the director turned to me and said, "John, you wrote him. What do you think?" And I stood there stunned for a moment. This is not what I knew Hollywood was. Once the writer turned in his script, the director and actors just take over, right? Right?
Not this time. So, I stood there for a moment, completely dumbfounded. Then, I started talking. And they listened. And they smiled. The actor said, "Yeah, that's good." And the director said, "Wow. You've really got these people figured out."
And I said, "Yeah." I pointed at the Bad Ass. "He's the Deadly Survivor." And then at the Soccer Mom. "She's the Clever Survivor." And I said, "I could stat them out if you want."
Later, when the director saw me standing at the edge of the set, he called me over behind the monitor. "You'll do your best here," he said. And I stood by the director the whole time. And whenever anyone had a question about characters or the Diary Room or anything involving the world, he looked at me and said, "What do you think?"
It was fantastic. So fantastic, in fact, I don't think I ever stopped smiling. So fantastic, I've been finding it very difficult to write anything else. Just a few pages of script translates into so much magic. And I don't have to worry about game balance or stats or making sure someone else can run the adventure.
It's been quite a fun ride. And it isn't over. There's more.
Go to www.johnwickpresents.com/fear to read the original stories inserted in the pages of The Shotgun Diaries RPG. You can download them in PDF form and add them to your own Diary. I'll be adding more "found pages" as we go: new rules and new survivor stories.
And soon, very soon, you can see episodes of The Shotgun Diaries.
I'll be announcing more as our lawyers permit us to do so.