Today we have a special CROSSOVER episode of the IFH Podcast. Our guest is Derek Kolstad, the genius behind the extremely successful John Wick franchise. An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him. With New York City as his bullet-riddled playground, JOHN WICK (Keanu Reeves) is a fresh and stylized take on the “assassin genre”.
He is also the screenwriter of One in the Chamber, The Package (starring Steve Austin & Dolph Lundgren). This episode is from the archives of The Make Your Movie Podcast with Dave Bullis available from the IFH Podcast Network. Dave chats with Derek about bad movies, screenwriting, the film business, and working with Keanu Reeves.
Read the original John Wick Screenplay:
I wanted to bring this amazing episode to the IFH Tribe. Get ready to dive into the ultra-violent world of Derek Kolstad.
Alex Ferrari 0:05
Now guys, today we have a special cross over edition of the bulletproof screenwriting podcast I have today on the show, Derek Kolstad, who is the creator and screenwriter of the amazing john wick. Now this episode originally aired on the make your movie podcast hosted by Dave Bullis, which is part of the indie film hustle Podcast Network. And I had to bring this episode to the bulletproof screenwriting tribe because it is pretty remarkable. If you want to know how Derek was able to create this insanely wonderful world that john wick lives in, and how he was able to get the project up off the ground and how Keanu got involved in the whole ball of wax. This episode is for you. So enjoy this special cross over episode. Without any further ado, here is Derek Kolstad.
Dave Bullis 2:51
Joining me today is Derek Kolstad. Derek is a screenwriter of john wick, and the upcoming john wick to Derek, how are you doing today, sir?
Derek Kolstad 2:59
Doing well, man tired, I can't remember the last time I had a weekend. But those are good problems to have.
Dave Bullis 3:04
So, so just to get started, could you give us a little bit about your background?
Derek Kolstad 3:08
Yeah, I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. You know, I'm 41 this year. And when I was a little kid in the early 80s, that's when the VHS boom happened. And, you know, people ask me how I got into this. And, you know, a lot of people don't remember but like in line at shopko, or wherever you shop, you'd have a bargain bin of VHS tapes. And my mom would would purchase them and we don't have cable, we could afford it on Sundays, especially Sunday nights PBS would actually show like the conversation of the Godfather, that kind of stuff. And so it's not downstairs, and my love of movies, you know, just began there. And what's really interesting though, is, you know, growing up Madison, Wisconsin, you have a very red family, very conservative, very supportive, like an ally coming home from sneaking into the theater, and they asked me what I had seen, and I'd seen Robocop which any other kid would have gotten into some serious trouble about. But in reality, they they looked at each other after I told them and just said, Hey, you know, we should probably support them in this. And so, you know, being a Midwestern kid though the idea of getting into film was a dream. And so when I went to college, it was for business, but I kept writing and became I worked for Dale Carnegie in Chicago. And what got me out here is my little brother called, and he's asked me how is doing like, broke down and started crying. And I'm not an emotional guy. And the realization was, I had to come out here to see if I was going to fail. It wasn't a matter of success, you know. And so I had my little golf PDI and half the backseat was taken out by a large fucking Dell computer and a CRT monitor and drove out here. You know, I was 15 years ago and apparently 15 years is an overnight success. So that's a little bit of a background man.
Dave Bullis 5:00
It was a great movie to pick By the way, Robocop.
Derek Kolstad 5:03
Oh, dude, dude. Yeah, you know the other favorite story I tell almost everyone I meet I was allowed to see, you know, raise last arc but Temple of Doom was to demon, you know? So my parents went saw it and they got back and I'm so excited to have I had my dad Sit down. Tell me that the movie right from beginning and it was awesome. So three years later realize my dad is falling asleep in the movie and just make up a story. It's still my favorite man.
Dave Bullis 5:32
That's absolute. Did you actually when you saw the movie? When you finally saw the whole movie? Did you go Wait a minute, this is nothing like what my dad said.
Derek Kolstad 5:39
Well, I could it was funny because I could tell the point where he fell asleep. You know, it was the opening sequence in Japan, which is you know, just legendary. And then you have that kind of slow jaunt between the first and second act. And my dad, my dad's notorious for falling asleep in movies, most notably animated ones. And so I mean, some of the stories we all share, is we the mood start, and I'd hear from the end of the hour. Oh, it's animated. 30 seconds later, you heard him snoring. So good guy, but still.
Dave Bullis 6:11
Yeah, my, my dad fell asleep at Star Wars Episode One. And he had like, afterward somebody asked him about the movie. And he was like, I had no idea. I don't even remember anything. So you know. So Derek, when you say, you know, you were you were in college for business? Did you actually graduate with a degree in business?
Derek Kolstad 6:32
I did. I did. And I went, got Business Administration, and then a minor in English. Well, a lot of minors, because let's be honest, it's pretty easy a bunch of minors. And then I went and worked for the family company back in Mesa, Maine, Wisconsin, which is WIC homes, which was a construction company. And then I moved to Chicago. And during this time, I was still writing, but I wasn't. I was writing short stories and screenplays I wasn't really sending them off. I was reading books about screenwriting is just in college, I suffered from insomnia. And the only thing that could actually get me to sleep is putting my dreams down on page, you know, and it wasn't until that phone call from my brother where it's like, fucking, I gotta try, you know.
Dave Bullis 7:15
So when we were writing, were you focusing on screenplays? Or do you actually, you'll focus on just writing like, you know, short stories, long stories or anything in particular,
Derek Kolstad 7:23
you know, I have huge respect for people who write novels, simply because, you know, the screenplay. It's like feigning exterior interior. It's one sentence and you read a great novel, and it's like, holy crap, they're spending time to just craft the world. And what I'm trying to do is, tell a good story that fits in 90 minutes, you know? And so what I loved about screenwriting, what I still love, love screenwriting is, I'm a tourist and fast, but more importantly, I can move from one story to the next. And that's why I like short stories as well. In fact, you know, when I was a kid, I was the guy who was teased at sleepovers because everything scared me. And so as a, you know, as a temperament to that I got into reading Stephen King and Stephen King short stories to this day, you know, are are a massive influence, and I still have them all. Behind me on my bookshelf. I mean, that, that's glory, dude, I can't I want to do what he can do in the short form, but he's the master.
Dave Bullis 8:19
Oh, absolutely. Did you have his book on writing?
Derek Kolstad 8:23
I do. It's one of the few books on writing that I I've read.
Dave Bullis 8:27
So I just what other books on writing? Do you do you recommend? You know?
Derek Kolstad 8:34
Not many. My thing is, like, just write, you know, I remember someone, I don't know what the book was, again, I'm a more of a writer nowadays and a reader. But someone told me once about the 10,000 hour rule. I don't prefer that. Yeah. In reality, like, I look at the stuff that I wrote even like four years ago. And it pales in comparison how I'm writing now simply because I've been doing it for so long, that it's not writing and rewriting especially that's where the skill comes in, it becomes like an algorithm like, it becomes something outside of the English language like you. If you make one change on page three, you know, the ripple effect, you know, to look for and to get to that stage. You just need to do it. So you know, people always like get the bad screenplay out of you in reality is that you first screenplay is terrible. And then you keep writing and writing and writing, rewriting. And at a certain point, you find your stride, not saying that everyone will become a writer, but you get better over time. And the other thing too, is, especially when I talk to college kids nowadays, I watch the films of my grandparents and my my parents. A lot of people haven't watched the films of their parents nowadays, like I'm very fluent in film, but a lot of people nowadays when you hear they haven't seen Casa Blanca are the godfathers if you name them, like you look around my office like Butch Cassidy or frickin Pulp Fiction or Miller's Crossing which is arguably my my Best Film my best. My favorite film. Watching right man? Listen.
Dave Bullis 10:06
What's that movie called? castle? What? fucker was funny? I heard Robert McKee whenever he does one of his seminars. You know, I don't know if you've read story by him, but he always shows Casablanca, like day two, or three or whatever. And he says, has anybody in here truly never seen this before? Or more people are raising their hands. And, you know, he's like, well, well, we're gonna spend the next 10 hours on this movie. So, you know, get conference funny, too.
Derek Kolstad 10:35
Because, you know, you hear when people do their top 10 lists of films, and you find yourself almost rolling your eyes like, of course, Citizen Kane. But then you put it in, and you watch it at minute 30 minute, five, you're like, God dammit. That's good. You know, and even if you're, you know, I know a lot of people who won't watch black and white films, which astounds me, you know, and yet you watch, like, for instance, it's a wonderful life. Everyone's like, Oh, that's a smarmy piece of Hollywood crap. It's an incredibly dark drama. I mean, he's killing himself. I mean, stuff like that. And when I encourage people to watch film, it's like, dude, ask your grandfather, ask your mom and dad, like, what their favorite movie movies was. Because even though, you know, the timing of movies has changed. You look at the Blue House horror movies compared to those in the 60s and 70s. They're sprinting, you know, Rosemary's Baby is really extremely slow. It's genius. But it's slow. But you have to watch at least once to respect what was going on, like, Lawrence of Arabia, you have to see once, I'm not gonna watch it again, it's long, but you have to see it once you know, just to know that everything on screen is real. They really shot that into respect that and learn from it.
Dave Bullis 11:53
Yeah, and very true. I remember in one of my film studies class in college, by the way, I have a degree in business administration, too. And I right, so you and I are very similar already. So
Derek Kolstad 12:03
I gotta admit, though, the BA degree is kind of bullshit. But you know, we got it.
Dave Bullis 12:08
Every day of my life, I tell everyone how it's bullshit. I sit here and go, like, what I still want to pay my student loan payments. I'm like, What the hell did I learned?
Derek Kolstad 12:18
Yeah, I think the big thing about college though, is it really doesn't matter. Like you know, what your degree is, you learn to learn. And I think you know, when people don't go to college and Come on, you're great. If you do to go to college, come on, you're great. But having a college degree gets you into the mailroom, you know, unless you know someone you still need to have that sadly.
Dave Bullis 12:40
And a true a lot of the positions that I see too for like anything if you want to work at the studio, or you know, like for instance Comedy Central, I just filled out an application to work there. And they all want a bachelor's degree, like that's a minimum requirement. You have to have a bachelor's in something.
Derek Kolstad 12:57
You look at guys like you know, Kevin Smith and Tarantino, br our flat men not flashing pants wrong saying they mean they're one a billion mean, these guys are incredibly talented forces nature, and yet, they're one of a kind, you know, not very few of us are, you need to actually have that degree in your belt to get into the industry. Even when it comes to, but when it comes to like screenwriting or acting, they don't care. Yeah, good is good.
Dave Bullis 13:25
Yeah, very true. And especially to cuz, you know, Tarantino, he just took a I mean, from what I've heard, he just got like a two day film course, to get an understanding and when he wrote Reservoir Dogs, that's where he met Terry Gilliam and Terry Gilliam really set him you know, this is what you have to do. And then when he finally got around to making Reservoir Dogs, he was like, prime and ready. I mean, having Terry Gilliam sort of mentor you. I mean, that was just like, you know, one genius showing another genius the way
Derek Kolstad 13:52
Oh, yeah, yeah. Well, and I remember reading an article with Django about Django and changed. And he said, the line that only Tarantino can say, and it was I had to teach myself how to make a Western. No one else can say that. I mean, Tarantino is a guy who devours film devours movies and has a respect for the shitty ones as well which you should I mean, you can you can pile shit on. Roger Corman flex, and the stuff that you know, a lot of these trauma is done and yet you watch you like to kind of get it I kind of get it and yet tanti loves it and he applies it, which is huge respect there.
Dave Bullis 14:28
I always heard Orson Welles too loved. I don't know if it's true or not, but he loved to have film parties at his house and he would show like these odd movies and I will be like, What the hell are you watching Orson? And he was like, No, this is this is just something unique and they didn't know if he was like, you know, making a joke of everybody or uses as this you know, playing is this practical joke everybody or he was dead serious.
Derek Kolstad 14:51
Well, that's what I love, though about where we are technical. Technologically. You know, when you think back that when I was in college, you know, 2020 years ago. I didn't have email yet. And there's no cell phone. And the only foreign movies that the video plays had with the douchey ones, like, of course, it's good, we want to get more that kind of stuff. But then as time progresses, and I remember being living in Chicago, and the video placed on the way had a large Asian section, as suddenly you're introduced to chalian, fat and gently and you're like, holy shit, well, how could I not know about this crap, you know? And now, you know, with Amazon and everything else, like, I can see movies like The Man from nowhere, I can see movies like I saw the devil, these ones that back in the day, I might have stumbled across on cable but now you're like, Okay, I get it.
Dave Bullis 15:43
Yeah, and it's very, it's very true to cuz I remember going to the video stores. And you know, just having like, look at different covers and stuff like that. I remember the some of the first time I discovered it. And it's like, you know, holy crap. This is freakin awesome, man.
Derek Kolstad 15:57
Yeah. Well, it's kind of funny when you think back in the day. Everything in Madison was the video station and you'd go in. And I still have a couple of horror titles just kind of emblazoned on my brain because of the whole how horrific. The VHS box looked. And you and I finally seen the movie like, Oh,
Dave Bullis 16:18
my friends. And I used to have this like little game we used to play where whoever could find the weirdest box art. That's what we did. They would have different deals like I think it was it was five movies for five nights or whatever. Yeah. And for $5. And what we do is we find like the, the craziest, like box art and whoever can find the craziest. That's one of the ones who definitely rent and stuff like that.
Derek Kolstad 16:41
What is funny about that is we used to do the whole, like, who can pick out the worst movie, right? So you get two or three movies. The problem with worst movies is they're boring. You know? You've never I mean, the worst movies that are fun to watch are actually fun to watch. When you do that. Let's find the worst you're gonna be going usually looking at your watch going, Oh, god, it's still going.
Dave Bullis 17:02
What was the worst movie I've ever seen by doing that?
Derek Kolstad 17:07
Let's see. I would argue that man skeeto is up there.
Dave Bullis 17:12
Derek Kolstad 17:14
they're kind of I think the worst movies I've seen tend to be the Friday night premieres on sci fi. And yet, what sci fi did is they embraced it. You know, like shark NATO. I get it. You know, you're totally making fun of the shit you're trying to, you know, give us years ago. I'll say this, that I've only walked out of two movies. The first one was the road to Melville, which was with Dana Carvey and a slew of characters back in the day. Do you read that one?
Dave Bullis 17:44
Yeah, Matthew McConaughey was in it. And a few of the I forget who the person was. But yeah, I remember wrote Well,
Derek Kolstad 17:50
it was just it was all and then the second one was sliver with Sharon Stone. Because it was like this psychosexual thriller that nothing happened. And every time we had sex, she like cried, and after about 20 minutes, I'm like, Yeah, I kind of miss the sunshine right now.
Dave Bullis 18:08
Anthony Hopkins, he was in Roseville. That's right. That's right. You know, you know, that movie was actually based off of Kellogg.
Derek Kolstad 18:15
Yeah, I know that guy. I mean, the movie is crazy. But that life story is even crazier. Still. I was really close to walk out of frickin episode one though.
Dave Bullis 18:26
Yeah, I remember episode one didn't leave much of an impression on me either.
Derek Kolstad 18:29
And I and part of the reason I stayed is, you know, everyone I was with was a massive Star Wars fan. So they had like the rose tinted spectacles on, but I was just kind of like going this whole thing's a cutscene of the PlayStation game.
Dave Bullis 18:46
When I was when I first saw it, I you know, I forget how old I was. I was like, you know, something's missing here. I I didn't mind at that point in time. I my my brain I didn't have I didn't wasn't into film like I am now you know. But something was was inside was telling me because I never felt this way about the original three, like the original three, like, I'll just watch and like I'm entertained from beginning to end. Episode One. I was kind of like, what's going on? Who's doing Who's this guy? And
Derek Kolstad 19:15
also, it's like, the plot is the is like a political Trade Organization treaty thing. You're like, wait, this is what we're after. But you know that everyone becomes a cynic at some point because I remember seeing Return of the Jedi in the theater, with my family, a bunch of friends and I was the guy I was one of those guys who was a growing number leaving going I think I hate he walks
Dave Bullis 19:41
Yeah, I don't really I haven't got that point yet where I hate the he walks but you
Derek Kolstad 19:45
will love it. Ah, I don't know why it just happens.
Dave Bullis 19:49
Well, Harrison Ford hated him right away. He called him the teddy bear picnic. You're at college. Where were you got your degree. You should writing your writing in your in your spare time. And you know, so where is it that you started to say like, you know, should I write screenplays was before your brother call to call you? Where's the answer your brother college
Derek Kolstad 20:11
I was actually in high school we went my family one on a Alaska cruise we know we saved up for this thing. And I wrote my first screenplay because I love movies on in longhand on a yellow notepad and came back and at a time, you know, we have WordPerfect and I built up a template. And I wrote it and gave it to my mom, who she gave me back my first notes, and they were brutal. And yeah, looking back and reading that first screenplay and senior notes, she was actually being very kind. I think it was just, I was I wanted to emulate what I loved, you know, and I love and I still love movies, you know, and short stories and movies were what I do, but I just want one show anybody you know, in fact, for a couple of years, the cousins, you know, I come from a large extended family. When I got someone's name, like, for Christmas, I would write them four or five stories and kind of bind it together. And that was my gift. I just enjoyed doing it. You know, it was never, it was never work. And even now, like, I would argue that your first draft of anything isn't work. That's fun. Work is the reracked and making 15 people happy and keeping it afloat, you know. But to answer your question, man, I just, I watched so many movies, and it gave me so much joy. I wanted to emulate that.
Dave Bullis 21:39
So, you know, a little feedback. So I moved to LA and then you you start writing again. So like what was your first, you know, professional screenplay that you would call it, you know, that you actually were using, as soon as I get your foot in the door, so to speak. And as far as
Derek Kolstad 21:59
the first one to get my foot in the door, I was called the wayfair. And it was a it was a sci fi thriller in the vein of matrix by way of the shining what's called and my two leads were African American. And I got a bunch of movies. I mean, got a bunch of meetings. And they were surprised because I'm a six foot two white dude with red hair. You know, they thought it was something else. But I was wanting to see Denzel Washington and who's Murtaugh? I can't remember his name right now. From
Dave Bullis 22:30
Derek Kolstad 22:31
Yeah, I wanted them. I wanted them paired up, you know. So got a lot of meetings. And, you know, what happens is, I was used to the, you know, the professional world, but you move out here and you get involved in the industry. It was different. And it was hard. And I just kind of I stepped away for a bit. And then I stepped back and I did a couple of you know, what would you call them direct to DVD or VOD movies was the package and one was one of the chamber. And they were hard, simply because you look at you look at the package. They had like 12 days to shoot. And you have very little money. And you have people who don't care because they pocketed their paycheck and other people who did care. Because it was a movie we known as movie they were part of. And so after, after those two, I was close to quitting again, because to pay the bills. Even with those I was doing a lot of nonprofit stuff like doing videos and websites for NGOs and like, and it wasn't until I wrote this wrote the screenplay called acolyte, aka simple man, that Sonia, who's we lovingly refer to as a script pitch, because she's the first line of defense for quality. She read it, and she said, I think you should try again. And a buddy of mine, Mike Callahan, who was a producer on those two titles I mentioned, introduced me to Mike Goldberg and Josh Adler were a new wave at the time. And they saved me, you know, everyone in their life at some point has individuals who saved them professionally, and those two saves me and they brought me to where I am today.
Dave Bullis 24:17
So, you know, just to dig a little deeper into the script, Eric, when you were writing out You You You told me you don't you didn't see a lot of screenwriting books. I don't know if you if you had read them at that point. But do you did you subscribe to any sort of of you know template, whether it's you know, enter if you read solipsistic Syd field screenplay, or save the cat by Blake Snyder,
Derek Kolstad 24:39
which I did. The cat I didn't say the cat that was great. I haven't read anything by Sinfield. But uh, I think my big thing is, when I was a kid, I was a my whole family were ravenous readers. You know, I would probably read when I was in grade school, I read a book a day, just because you know, I love I loved reading. And I've always been imaginative. But when you read and see where other people's stories go, it's awesome. And my favorite authors at the time were Alistair MacLean. You know, and Dashiell Hammett, and Tom Clancy, and then when I was in high school, it was shipped CIT who wrote the firm.
Dave Bullis 25:21
Derek Kolstad 25:24
crap. JOHN Grisham.
Dave Bullis 25:26
Yeah, it's very, it's on my bookshelf behind me, I could just turn around.
Derek Kolstad 25:29
But a lot of like, especially when we play, you know, hearing of guns of navarone. And what I loved about his stuff is if you look at, for instance, what's the movie? Ronin did it best is? You know, at one point, Max says, ask the question, Do I know you by way of the germ or something like that? It's never addressed again. But by just by having that one line, the world kind of expands a little, like a little bit bigger, and asked him a claim. And Hitchcock especially, they would have these lines that made their their movies seem bigger and more complex than they were, when in reality, they were very simple. You know, you take john wick, I mean, it's a revenge story, but he's not. You know, I'll let people argue about it. But it's more than just the dog. You know. And I think the best movies are that it's more than just the sled, you know, Rose, but it's more than just the ring. It's more than it's it just, it hints at a larger purpose. And I think by not answering what that larger purpose is. That's where the movies I love come into play.
Dave Bullis 26:39
Yeah, and I know exactly what you mean. You know, in in john wick, you know, it is more than when they, when they do whatever happens, the dog. I don't know, if anyone who hasn't watched it yet. I probably should stop now and watch it, and then come back. So I am going to be talking about I do want to delve in deeper to the movie. But be at your I agree with you wholeheartedly. And you know, it isn't I always am fascinated when I ever, you know, talk to an accomplished screenwriter, like yourself, Derek, who, what they've read, and what method methodology they subscribe to. Cuz some people swear by, say the cat, and I've had others here on the podcast who say, Don't ever even read it, keep it away from you at all costs?
Derek Kolstad 27:17
Well, you know, everyone functions differently. everyone learns differently. I don't know, like, people ask me, like, where did these ideas come from? To be honest, I don't know, a lot of it is, you know, what I've read, and who you are and where you are, and where you see and how you see it suddenly comes into play. But what I tell everyone is, as soon as you've finished a screenplay, write the first page and the next one. Because it's kind of like, you have to keep that flame stoked, or else a lot. For me, personally, I've talked to other writers is, when I finished a screenplay, it's kind of depressing. You know, because you've been with this story. And now it's done. You're like, shit, you know, you you are crafting this world. I mean, they hand it off, you have to start the next one, or else you know, for some of us, you know, you know this, when you talk to writers, I understand a great deal why people turn to the bottle, or turn to the needle or turn elsewhere. Because when you get to the end of that novel, bring you the end of that screenplay, or even a short story, you feel very alone. But if you keep it going, you feel very alive.
Dave Bullis 28:26
So Derek, I want to ask you, are you? Are you a part of a writer's group of any kind? I mean, mean? Like, do you have like a group of that you meet with me once a month just to exchange, you know, whatever you're working on?
Derek Kolstad 28:36
I actually I don't, you know, Sonia, is very key. She comes from a house of readers as well. And so between her and Josh and Mike, they tend to be my readers. And but what I am a part of is, you know, a guy named screenwriter named Matt altman invited me to his screenwriter forum on Facebook. I can't remember what it was Josh invited me anyway. And what's really cool about that is the first thing I want to do until I, until after the first week, I realize it's just a bunch of people encouraging each other. And I think that's incredibly important. You know, to have that group of people that when you have a question to ask, they're excited to answer because you were excited to answer them. And I love it.
Dave Bullis 29:25
Yeah, I'm a part of a writer's group right now. We we started about two years ago, when it was a will. A friend of mine got inspired. Because we were watching the Oscars, and Tarantino gave a speech about Django, and it just sort of hit me like a lightning bolt. And I was like, holy crap, why don't I just that story of writers group with some of the people that I know in the area who I trust, and just see what goes from there, you know? Yeah,
Derek Kolstad 29:49
right. And that's the thing though, is like you I'd argue almost in every capacity, you can't be a solitary person. Even though I'm happiest alone. I'm happiest alone with my computer. No music on and just I love that. And yet I know if I stay within that bell jar, I'll get worse because I have to have those outward influences to make what I do better. And, you know, those who writes, I'd argue, you know, seek out even on Facebook or any other site or even locally, people who think like you, because a lot of things that you worry about, they do too. And that's important to actually connect on.
Dave Bullis 30:28
It's a very good point. And so, you know, as we know, we talked about writers groups and everything like that, you know, a little later, I wanted to ask you another question. Sorry, sorry, for the bad segue. But I, I have a note in front of me, I want to ask you say after, afterwards, but you know, as we're writing, you know, I, you, you, you had the May fers, you, and then you I assume now, once you were done that you started your next project. So what was your next project to that?
Derek Kolstad 30:58
I don't know. He's, here's the thing is I write, I write a lot, and I write fast, you know, and, but a lot of times too, and you might have been the same place, like a lot of times write the story to get it on my head. It might not be good, you know, but at the same time, like, it's haunting me that it's still in there. I think I think of stories as people in line at the bank, you know, if it's 15, deep, you're pissed. But if it's 3d be fine, you know, so I try to get those 12 out of the way. But I would argue that acolyte, which is, you know, making the rounds again, that one got me on the radar, and it was john wick. That made me may be able to say that I'm a professional screenwriter now. And you know, what's really fun about the john wick process was, I'd written it, and it was originally entitled scorn. And the character was in his early 70s, because, again, I loved the movie, Ron, and I thought, how cool would it be to grab like a comedy Jones or a, you know, a, you know, just an older actor, and do an action piece that made sense, because, you know, I just wanted to see that the dog was like 15 years old, the wife had passed two years ago. So my, my agent at the time, Charlie Ferraro, well, you know, but over UTA, he called me after the screenplay and went out and he's like, we've got like, three or four offers. And I'm not going to tell you the numbers, but I really think we should take the lowest one because they want to make it now. And you know, you got a great agent who is looking at the long game, you know, it's more important for me to get an okay payday and a made movie than a million dollars and no man movie, you know. And so, they set it up with basil monic, over at Thunder Road. And, you know, we developed a back and forth for a while, and then he went out to directors. And on a Friday afternoon at like, one o'clock, Keanu Reeves called basil. And he's like, Hey, man, I heard about this screenplay. I really liked to read it out. Can you send it over? So they couriered it over? And at 430 Keanu Reeves called back and he said, I want to do it. Now basil called me again. And I grew up with a guy. And I was I was, I was excited. No, because this is a very violent movie. And I'd love to see him do this again. And the first time I went over his house, I walked past his den. In his desk, I shoot, you know, like 200 screenplays. This guy's hobby is reading screenplays. And in that moment, it was probably the most humbling I've ever known going. Holy shit. I was one of those who picked it, you know? So that's how I want Canada and honestly, the title came about because Canada would not refer to it as scorn. You'd always refer to the project as john wick and it stuck.
Dave Bullis 33:44
You know, I, by the way, did you actually get to meet Canada? Oh, yeah.
Derek Kolstad 33:49
Yeah, I mean, Canada is a incredibly bright cat. I mean, you sit down with anyone and their first two notes. You're like, man, oh, shit. He got to his third note. I was like, damn it, that's better than what I had in mind, you know? And so he was. We spent a ton of time together on every character in every scene outside of his own. And he is equally responsible for what's up on that screen. I mean, Chad, Dave, basil, Erica, and I mean, this is an awesome production crew. But at its heart and soul, it's Canada because Canada loves the character. And I can't you know, honestly, I'm not pandering. You can ask around. You've probably heard stories, but he's a genuine dude. And he's, you know, for instance, when we shot in New York, he got to know all the guys at the coffee shop, because he would join them for their smoke breaks. And I was last day it was like saying goodbye to your best friends at camp. And you don't see that a lot with especially guys of his caliber.
Dave Bullis 34:50
Yeah, I've always heard that he is an absolutely awesome guy.
Derek Kolstad 34:53
Oh, yeah. In fact, you know, my, my most surreal story like something like that. Nice guy, but I, I like being alone. He everyone knows his address out here. You know the
Dave Bullis 35:06
Derek Kolstad 35:08
buses that go by with tourists. They stopped by his house and you know all that kind of stuff. My favorite was one day we're working on john wick. His doorbell rang and he's got a little you know, you know, it's like Who's there? And this woman says, Hi, my name is so and so from Boise, Idaho or something. Huge fan of yours or just wondering the the picture and he's like, okay, she goes outside and hangs out with this teenage girl in her family for like five minutes taking pictures then comes back in. Like who does that? That's, it's unbelievable. It's awesome. But that's the kind of guy he is.
Dave Bullis 35:44
Yeah, that is absolutely hilarious. I mean, I don't know if this is true or not. But I saw that apparently, he gave his matrix two and three money away to the special effects guys. I don't know if that's true or not, but it is
Derek Kolstad 35:55
true. And the other thing that I thought was really cool is because you know, Chad was his stunt double in the matrix. He can Oh hired who's the guy who makes the custom bikes motorcycles that Jesse didn't know. I'm talking about?
Dave Bullis 36:12
Yeah, it was Jesse James for a while it wasn't it
Derek Kolstad 36:14
was I think, I think it's Jesse James. But like, Kanno as not only do they give away his bonus money he had everyone on the stunt team made customized motorcycles that were delivered by Jesse James. and stuff like that, where you know, you don't have to do that. And yeah, you could argue that he's a multi millionaire, whatever. But again, he's just he's a unique and genuine, you know, generous man.
Dave Bullis 36:41
And it's no, it's absolutely awesome. And, you know, for him to get into the john wick character, you know, when you finally saw the movie, and you finally you know, saw everything playing out, you know, what, what were your initial thoughts when you finally saw his finished product?
Derek Kolstad 36:54
That's a great question. Because we, when we saw the friends and family, you know, that like the first cut in the movie with I had no idea I because when you get to a point and rewriting, you're not seeing words anymore, you're just seeing kind of numbers, if that makes sense. And so when we saw it, I remember looking over it, it's Sonia, first join. Was it good? Like, I didn't hate it? I didn't I didn't know. And she was and she by her expression. I know, it was, you know. And the moment that hit home for me is we when we did our initial screening at the dome out here at the arclight. We're doing a q&a afterwards and said I don't it's 700 seats, and it is a pretty big forum. But I you know, I showed up and I didn't watch the movie, because at that point, you'd seen it so many times. But I scan the audience to find the people who don't want to be there. And at about minute 20 everyone would have this huge grin. And you know, my favorite movie going experience in my life. And I tell almost everyone I meet is when the raid came out. Have you seen the ride? Oh, yeah, absolutely. Okay, When the rain came out, I love the trailer. And I love to Meranti which are think that's mainly when the movie made before that. We walked into the theater with the arclight here in Pasadena and it's a smaller theater like 130 seats, or even maybe even less. And if you look at the audience, it was every sex every age, every color, every creed. It was weird. It was like a serial killers Daydream. It was bizarre. Like, if you ask people what are they here to see, you know, but we sat down it was sold out. And when the reverse door guillotine happened, I leaned forward and my seat and looked around like you did when you're 12 years old. At the end of the I was a 17 year old Korean man who's doing the same thing. And he pointed at me and mouth.
Dave Bullis 38:44
Did you see that?
Derek Kolstad 38:46
Oh, and when I watched people watching john wick, especially during that house invasion, and to see a guy who's 68 years old lean for as chairman around that may my MA my life man, you know, cuz that's, that's what that's what I wanted to bring out of people. And so I want to bring on people now, you know?
Dave Bullis 39:05
Yeah, it is phenomenal with that, you know, movies can bring people together like that.
Derek Kolstad 39:11
Especially what I loved about a john wick process or even release was the number of older people or, you know, again, yes, action movie, but it's got a huge female fan base. Just because, you know, a lot of people will say, you hear the term grounded, which means deep, elevated, which means good. You know, it's like I want to make an elevated horror, like we you know, we want to make a good horror or good action piece. And what I loved about the john wick process is from this, the original spec of the bones and the muscle mass remained the same. It was just the skin and the hair that was massaged in by everyone involved. And again, Thunder Road and the directors and Kiana about Lions Gate. They just, you know, at any point, any production, everyone hates everybody because you're just tired and yet when we do That q&a following that you just saw the joy in gone. You know, it's, it's a major miracle to have a movie made. It's even more so to have it be anything good or let alone critical and financial success. So I use the term a lot like I'm humbled and I am, you know, because, you know, you look at all the other stuff I have on my platter, it's It's horrifying, because you're like, Can I can I can I do what I just did? We'll see.
Dave Bullis 40:27
And speaking of that, you know, I saw john wick, too, was just announced.
Derek Kolstad 40:30
Yeah, yeah, in fact, I mean, he has got the latest draft his script, and we're going to be talking about this Sunday. He loves it. I mean, the body count is probably three times bigger. And that what I love about piano too, is you look at a guy who is he 5051. I don't remember. But he wants to do. He hates when people refer to what he does his stunts because it's not it's him. He's really doing this stuff. And when you look at that movie, and try to copy what he does, I can't 12 years younger than him, it's like, I can't do that. And yet he beat the shit out of himself. And he did it with a grid. And he is kind of like, you know, he sees that, like, I I love that man's workout.
Dave Bullis 41:16
And that, you know that that's awesome. And that's indicative. Everything I've always heard about Kiana was that he is, you know, a guy that's willing to go the extra mile, you know, and so when so I want to ask you is Derek is? How, from what point did you start working on john wick? Two? Did you know that? I mean, did they did they immediately greenlight it and say, Get to work on it, Derek, or did you start working on it already?
Derek Kolstad 41:39
No. I mean, I, I hadn't started working on it. Because when you start when you get a movie in production, your life is rewrite hell, and it's just, it's continual. And what I learned too, is when I was out in New York, on the shoot, it was hard for me to do anything else. Because every 10 minutes, even though you're doing very minimal labor, you have someone coming in asking, Hey, what's the nurses name? You know, the hospital, like I, who gives a shit, but, you know, they came to me for that. I spent I spent about five weeks just playing civilization five on my laptop, because I couldn't, I couldn't work on anything else, you know. And yet, you know, for a couple of days, every week, Kiana would come back, we'd have lunch, and we'd lunch with a buddy of mine named Todd, who, you know, he does all the, the, we call it all the artwork, you know, all that kind of stuff. And canowindra asked me is like, so you know, where do you see john going next, you know, how many have you seen in your head? And I liked him. I was like, I got seven. I got seven of them. And he laughed, and I pitched him two and three and four. And you could see him kind of not grow pale. But go Okay, let's just focus on the next one. All right. So I didn't start it. And to be honest, it's even in you know, even with the greenlight, we've we've chaotically gone between different storylines. And yet, what we've remained true to is, I don't want to look at it at it as a sequel, I want to look at it as you know, john wick chapter two, because what the Fast and Furious did so well is after the third one is they weren't sequels anymore. They were chapters, and I think those are the best. Those are the best franchises to have, you know, I would you know, Empire Strikes Back is not a sequel is a chapter, you know, most sequels or remakes are the first one. And with this one, you want it to be unique, but familiar, you know?
Dave Bullis 43:38
Yeah. And that's a great way to put it to different chapters.
Derek Kolstad 43:42
Yeah, I mean, and that's why you can't help but respect about the Fast and Furious movies, even if you don't like them. Each one got better, you know, at a certain point. And, you know, people ask me what I watch and like, I gotta be honest, I haven't seen it yet. But you know, I'm gonna love Mad Max. I mean, I've been watching that trailer every day on a deafening TV screen with my arms out wide grinning, because that's what I want to do, you know?
Dave Bullis 44:08
Yeah, everyone I know who was seen as not that. I haven't seen it yet, either. Yeah, did you see fast, furious seven.
Derek Kolstad 44:16
I'm really behind on everything. And you know, what I've learned too is when you when you write like this, or you get to this, you know, degree of success, I would argue, I don't, I don't like going to the theater. Simply because I'm alone most of the time. And when you sit down with a bunch of strangers, it's a bit of anxiety. And you're watching a movie and when you find yourself not liking it, you're suddenly reminded that people don't like what you do. It's weird. You know, I like it. It's It's weird. I mean, I love movies, man, but I like him now in the privacy of my own home.
Dave Bullis 44:50
Did he teach his own you know, and and sometimes I I totally get what you're saying because I sometimes just like to watch movies in my own home too. That's why like when it follows was coming out and they were like, oh, by the way, we're gonna do VOD the same day as theater. I was like, go good. I can just stay home now order a pizza, and I go watch it follows at home and they pulled out the VOD. So I ended up, you know, because it did better in theaters than they expected it was going to do. Yeah. So now I, I've pulled up Netflix and watch or watching something else.
Derek Kolstad 45:19
Well, it's like the event movies. I, you know, I go see in the theater. And to be honest, my favorite movies to see in the theater are the ones that are aimed directly at kids. Because, you know, the cynicism really hasn't sunk in, and to go watch, like, you know, anything by Pixar, you know, are a lot of Disney stuff, and to look across, and, you know, when we saw the movie, Frozen, it was a couple of weeks out, and the little kids in front of us were singing along to every song And in that moment, like, you could be irritated, oh, man, or you can go like, that's movie magic. You know, these little kids love the movie so much. They're singing along and you know, in this day, that was all that's love that memory.
Dave Bullis 46:00
And, you know, that's what movies do. They help me give those memories. Yeah.
Derek Kolstad 46:04
And I mean, you think of the movies that make you cry. I was a little kid. I mean, I wept a frickin Fox in the hound. You know, I wept when he came back to life, you know, then as you get older and older, it's always it changes like what affects you. I think the last movie I cried in was big fish of all movies. Like I was dating Sony at the time. And it's, you know, any kind of father son by any story gets me. And when he tells his father, the ministers breaking down, I was a blubbering mess. And it's like, you got me, man. Congratulations.
Dave Bullis 46:40
Yeah, man, what's
Derek Kolstad 46:41
the last movie that made you cry?
Dave Bullis 46:43
That made me cry? Yeah. I'm not even sure.
Derek Kolstad 46:48
Dave Bullis 46:51
That's a good question. I have to think about that. Derrick.
Derek Kolstad 46:54
My favorite was I went to go see Wally. And I would argue the beginning of Wally's one of the best in cinema, because it just showed you true loneliness. And as a writer, you'll know that you tap into loneliness. And at the end of the island, my buddy JC it's, there's a quiet moment. I just hear I hear quite tears from his eyes like goddamnit Pixar, you got me again.
Dave Bullis 47:21
They are phenomenal at that.
Derek Kolstad 47:23
But they respect the process, man, they take their time.
Dave Bullis 47:26
Yes, they there's so many good points about Pixar that like of what they do with their stories and how they structure them. And the characters and the and everything you know, and it's just, that's why there's so many. I mean, if you go like speed of screenwriting books, if you go like, look online, there's so many screenwriting books now about like doing it the Pixar way, whatever, you know what I mean? Yes, because you know, they are the guys you want to emulate.
Derek Kolstad 47:51
But also, you know, I think the best filmmakers Love, love their characters, you know, in the Pixar movies, you can tell that they love their characters, even the bad guys, you know. And I think that's important. I mean, what's been great in developing john wick, too, is we love john wick, you know, I mean, he was the Baba Yaga. He was the devil. And there may be a bit of that still inside of him. But there's something about that you love, you know. And the best movies are either the ones where everyone hated each other on the set or loved.
Dave Bullis 48:24
Yeah, and I heard there's a lot of frictional madmax it so Oh,
Derek Kolstad 48:27
yeah. Well, did you read that article with Tom Hardy hardy said, as soon as he saw the movie, he apologized to George. Yeah,
Dave Bullis 48:35
that's that's what I saw. And then I saw apparently like it at the Cannes Film Festival. They were like, he apologized for some of his behavior or something, or apparently something. There was some friction about something.
Derek Kolstad 48:45
Well, you know, and that's the thing about the industry that a lot of people don't understand until you really hear is, you can we can bemoan the fact that stars can be odd people who are assholes from time to time, but I do not envy their position. I mean, especially when you see it firsthand how people treat them. And I wouldn't I can never live in that kind of world, you know?
Dave Bullis 49:12
Is it really? Do you ever see anyone ever like trying to treat Kanto bed?
Derek Kolstad 49:17
No, it's not a matter of treating them bad. But it's, it's a matter of going, Hey, I recognize you from all your movies. See, I say we're buddies now, you know. But like when he's having dinner and just having people come up, and, you know, continuously come up to them. I don't get that, you know, New York is different. And I'd argue various sections of Hollywood are different simply because they're used to it and it's a different culture. But when you have you know, people from the Midwest, where I come from, you have two kinds, the kind of comes up to Canada goes, Hey, I love your work and then move on. And then it's the or the Hey, I love your work. We're friends now. Right?
Dave Bullis 49:57
So do you have a lot of friends in the Midwest, calling you They'll be like, hey, Derek, you sold a screenplay. I have a screenplay idea. Do
Derek Kolstad 50:04
you know? Not really, because I, I'd argue one of the greatest things about the Midwest is you're instilled with a work ethic. But more importantly, it's like one of my best friends out here is Austin Bryan, he played a little kid in Last Action Hero, you know, his Lawnmower Man, and all that kind of stuff. And he's a very successful photographer now. And he was kind of stressed one day when he was going to meet my cousin, who was a big fan of his. And my cousin, Joanna, came to a party, she walked up to him, shook his hand said, Hey, I really love your movies. And I went to the kitchen to start cooking something I don't know. That's, that's what I grew up with. And I think that's awesome. But every now and then you have people come out of the woodwork, of course. And that's just kind of nice Facebook is you can ignore them. And yet at the same time, like, the reality is no one helped me, you know. And what I mean by that is, of course, people helped me. But when it came to this, to getting into the industry in the screenwriting, it was years of incredibly hard work and work for free to get to this point. And yet, I kind of wonder, would I be the same guy had the success happened at age 30? Then 40. Hope so. And so a lot of times when students reach out to me, or people reach out to me, those conversations tend to be very healthy, because they're grounded. You know, I'm, I'm a screenwriter, man, the crazies don't come to me.
Dave Bullis 51:30
And sometimes, Derek, do you have annoying people to ask to be on a podcast?
Derek Kolstad 51:34
You know, what I what I love about podcasts, though, is this medium has given so many people like yourselves an opportunity that didn't exist 10 years ago, you know, I love that. And I mean, who knows what the next generation is gonna, you know, face as well. But you have the opportunity to be and create and manage your own brand. And how cool is that?
Dave Bullis 51:56
Yeah, absolutely. Um, you know, and I think the next generation is gonna be robots are just gonna, are gonna call you and they're gonna interview you, and then, you know, just whoever's around, be listening to it.
Derek Kolstad 52:07
Let's see, that's what I like about podcasters though, is, you're not, you're not a cynical bunch. I mean, you're doing what you love. You know, it's one thing doing an interview for the international press. It's nothing doing this because we're, we're fanboys to a certain degree of films themselves. You know? I'm, I have not seen the most movies, any, any person I know. yet. When I see a fellow person who loves a certain movie, like, you know, I asked last night on Facebook, like what movies you watch when you're down or drunk, or, you know, alone. And my response was, like, I've seen cabin of the woods and Evil Dead to too many times to count. And yet, when people hear that, you can kind of see the Amen, brother.
Dave Bullis 52:49
Yeah, it's just so interesting. You know, I remember this, this this anecdote that Kane Hodder, I don't know if you can't hotter race, but he was Jason Friday 13th from seven on. And he wants they actually were talking to him once. And they said, who was the best actor you've ever worked with? And his response was, Charlie's Charlie's Theron. And he said she was just absolutely phenomenal monster. And he said that she just blew everyone away. And he's never worked. Someone you know, it's just it's it was she was just beyond, you know, what he was used to? You know, I mean,
Derek Kolstad 53:22
yeah, a friend of mine who saw Fury Road was just like, thrones, amazing, because she's looking in the rearview mirror. And acting. And you're kind of like, I can't do that. Like to have volumes of backstory in a look. It's huge, you know?
Dave Bullis 53:42
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that's why I think does work. I mean, I haven't seen it. I'm just here. works behind him as well. But, you know, I mean, you've got Tom Hardy, who's phenomenal. And you have her? who I think is absolutely phenomenal. I loved her. promethease I don't know if you saw previous.
Derek Kolstad 53:57
Yeah, I wasn't the biggest fan of that one, man. I loved her, though.
Dave Bullis 54:02
Yeah, she was I you know, I just have a big soft spot for that movie. I know it has for
Derek Kolstad 54:08
everyone has. That's the thing is everyone has those movies that connect to you on a certain capacity. So there are very there are very few movies I will refer to as horrendous or terrible, simply because you connected with them on a certain level. I mean, I have movies that are indefensible, but I love them. Because they they amuse me in a way that only that movie could, you know?
Dave Bullis 54:30
Yeah, I totally, totally understand. So, you know, they're talking about and an hour now, I know you have, you know, I don't want to have too much your time. So, you know, I have one question or actually two questions that came in from the fans if you don't mind. The first question I actually I briefly referred to earlier was about what the question is, I'm just gonna paraphrase this is, you know, with a lot of talk in the industry about script consultants. Where do you feel that they fit in to the whole screening process?
Derek Kolstad 55:04
You know, it's hard for me because I'm Sony is my script consultant, you know, and so, between her and Josh Adler's my manager. You know, that's, that's where I've gone. But I would argue that, you know, my dad used to say that phrase that when you bring in someone to do a job, and you're getting a quote, get five quotes, you throw out the biggest one, throw out the lowest one, and was screw consulting, is if you look at the numbers, if it makes sense for you, great. And a lot of times, especially nowadays, you can find some good ones that all you need is to hear back. Both that criticism and encouragement make you better, you know, I would argue that a lot of us have people who serve the script, consultation, capacity in some respect. But for the pros, they're reading tons of scripts, they know that they know, they know what's selling, they know what's not. And I think, even though I haven't done it before, I can see the value in it. Just don't spend, you know, an ungodly amount, you know.
Dave Bullis 56:11
So, in your opinion, you know, what's, like, do you think there should be like a cap of $100 $1,000 or something like that?
Derek Kolstad 56:16
But, you know, you can't really say a finger because Who is it? You know, you know, at a certain point, like, if you buy a luxury ice cream container for $8, you're like, Oh, sweet, would you buy it for 80? fuck knows ice cream at a certain point. What is it that you're buying, you know,
Dave Bullis 56:35
very true. Just as a funny side note, I actually just saw in, I think it was Abu Dhabi, or somewhere in the Middle East, they actually have ice cream. Now. That's like $1,000 an ounce.
Derek Kolstad 56:49
What's in it?
Dave Bullis 56:50
gold flakes, got diamonds, and caviar and something else. But it's, but it's like the way they make it is they it's all freeze dried. Right. So they make it literally, they make it right in front of you from scratch everything from scratch. Totally not not not the diamonds, of course, but like the ice cream. And then what they do is they put it into this, they mix it up with everything. And then they top it with gold flakes.
Derek Kolstad 57:13
I don't know who told me this years ago, but they're like, it was when the Trump hotel I think was serving up this $800 hamburger, you know? And he said, If I ever found myself wondering about that burger and ordering it, I should just give that money away. And I think that's the truth or most likely Well, if I find myself wanting to buy a Bentley, I should give that money away if I had it.
Dave Bullis 57:39
So yeah, I know what you mean. Although I would say I probably would buy a Bentley. You know, it's funny. Joe, Esther Haas once said that, there's a there's a great way, if you ever stuck on a screenplay, he has found the perfect way to get unstuck and cure writer's block. And he says what you do as you go down to find your local exotic car dealer, and you either get like a Lamborghini or Ferrari and you take it out for the weekend. And he said, What by the time you get back, you're going to do anything in your power to make sure you come by once you could drive out again.
Derek Kolstad 58:15
I like that.
Dave Bullis 58:17
Yeah, and I'm actually trying to get him on the podcast, by the way. Might be a little subtle. Is he
Derek Kolstad 58:23
still writing? He kind of had a big blow for the industry and kind of took took some time off.
Dave Bullis 58:29
Oh, he's the writing. Okay. And because he is he his last work was actually a book. It's an E book called heaven and mail. And it's all about working with Mel Gibson. Nice. And the other question that came in, Derek was how do I go about getting a screenplay mentor?
Derek Kolstad 58:49
Good question, man. If I look at my own life, find someone in your life who reads and reads voraciously, simply because when you read you, you know what's good, you know, what's, you know, what works. And, you know, the other thing too, is my thing about screenwriting, especially the industry, I said at the beginning is you have to be here. I know you can hate LA and hate New York even but you have to be here. You could honestly move to LA right now. jump online and find a group of people who will read your screenplay in 48 hours because they're trying to do the same thing. And it's kind of like the Brotherhood, the script. And you know, that's the bet if you really want to see if you can fail at this move here, you know, but if you don't and you want advice, seek out the people who love the medium. And it's amazing too. The other thing too is you'll know if you have a good script when you have your friends sit around and read it out loud. Because it's amazing, especially with comedy something that intimidates the shit out of me where It's funny to you. It's funny on a page when it's spoken out loud. It's just like gravel, you know? And that's what I'd say.
Dave Bullis 1:00:09
That's a very good point. Did By the way, directors that sort of add on to that, did you see the blacklist has its own podcast now? They're actually reading some like unproduced screenplays. Oh, really? Yeah. That's a really cool idea. Yeah, the the first one they did was a balls out.
Derek Kolstad 1:00:24
I've I haven't read that one. I've heard of it.
Dave Bullis 1:00:27
Somebody once told me about it. And then I heard Craig Mazin mentioned it again. Craig Mazin, you know, he is right. Yeah. Okay. So he mentioned it, and I looked it up. And I was like, Wow, it's easy to find. And apparently, it's been circling around Hollywood for years, but nobody actually wants to make it. But everyone's like, this is fucking hilarious. Haha. And they just pass it on. And and it's been like, why the hell so? Apparently, it does get like pretty outrageous and stuff. So I'm actually going to read it one of these days. But I've read the first 20 pages. I thought it was hilarious.
Derek Kolstad 1:00:59
Like, have you read the screenplay? passengers?
Dave Bullis 1:01:02
No, I haven't. Dude,
Derek Kolstad 1:01:03
that's that's one right now. I think. I think Chris Pratt attached? I don't know, do the female leaders right now. That's one that every exact I talked to us. Like, that's the best game plan read in five years. But we passed on it. And the realities of this business are it's like, let's say you read a screenplay, and it's your favorite ever. But you're like, that's $120 million. You know, pG 13 R rated sci fi thriller. That's unique. You know, it's not based on anything. You know, you've got shareholders, man, it's, it's a huge risk. So when people pass on certain stuff, like I've talked to a number of people passed on gravity. You're like, wow, and then you realize, Oh, yeah, if you hadn't seen the visuals, and read it, I get it, you know? And yet, every now and then, especially being an aspiring writer, like yourself. Oh, fuck that. You're a writer, you know, is when you go to the theater. You're like, you get 12 minutes into the movie, like, how is this made? And a lot of times, even the people involved like I don't happen.
Dave Bullis 1:02:09
Yeah, there's a there's another podcast too. called How did this get made? And? And I first I was like, What the hell? But But yeah, I know exactly what you mean. You know, they even mentioned you What the hell happened here. But you know, it's funny Derrick member landed the last one that came out with Will Ferrell. Yeah, that that studio, they they bought the book so much on that. And then what happened was when a failed, everyone got fired?
Derek Kolstad 1:02:35
Yeah. That's the kind of thing though, that you can you feel for certain people involved because I remember talking to the producers of Jonah hacks. And they, you know, this was after the fact they were like, Derek, the screenplay was fun. It was a blast. The table reads to great. Three weeks for shooting, they carved off like $15 million for a budget, we thought we do fine. And then when we started seeing dailies, we were like, what happened? It's just, again, it's a miracle, and you get a good movie. And it's simply because, you know, it's it begins and ends with a script, sure. But at certain points, people step in, and the script gets muddied. And things happen, you know, often a bad movie. That's only bad when it hits the second act, you know, that's more often than not.
Dave Bullis 1:03:27
Yeah, very true. Yeah. Something I've always heard is the the second act is where movies go to die.
Derek Kolstad 1:03:34
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I would argue that the movies I write the I love, just actually I love thrillers love sci fi. The work is an act to me an act one you come up with, when you're out for a walk, or you're having a meal. x three is just fun, because you can finish the fucker. But act two. That's where the writing comes in. And when you start receiving notes, all your notes are an act two, not one or three.
Dave Bullis 1:04:06
So you know, Derrick, in closing, uh, you know, I mean, we could talk all day, you and I could tell we have you know, we have we have the same taste in movies we've got
Derek Kolstad 1:04:14
we're both give a shout when the next film comes out, man.
Dave Bullis 1:04:18
Okay, definitely. Because you're both have degrees in business. We both do writing. We both have red hair.
Derek Kolstad 1:04:25
Losing my I shaved my head.
Dave Bullis 1:04:28
But thank you for that writer comment, by the way. Yeah.
Derek Kolstad 1:04:33
I have to stop myself because it's kind of like Kiana said about he doesn't do his he doesn't do stocks. He's really doing it. And so when I talk to people, it's like, you're not to say you're an aspiring screenwriter means you want to be a screenwriter. He's being paid, but to be writers to be a writer. And as soon as you have one person read it, you've affected their entire life. And I think it's it's a difficult career, and yet it's a it's a fun one. I'm not saying john wick is going to be out there changing people's lives but I want making movies that like predator diehard for instance, we are you're at a hotel one night. It's 11 o'clock you're tired. You turn on the TV halfway through predator like fuck gotta watch it. Those the movies I love.
Dave Bullis 1:05:16
I mean, I remember when I when I was beyond the commercials for john wick. I was on Facebook one day and a friend of mine who's kind of a hard guy to please movies actually was like john wick Anyway, you know, dot dot dot the ellipsis anyway, that was pretty fucking good.
Derek Kolstad 1:05:31
See that's the best. That's what I want, you know. And in fact, I had people on Facebook who were like, in their late 70s, early 80s friends of my grandmother, who hadn't seen an R rated movies since maybe the Godfather. They went to see it sparked me there just like that I really enjoyed that.
Dave Bullis 1:05:49
He gigs, I mean that there's a couple things in john wick. Like I said, people if you're listening to this troja job was gonna dig into it. But just you know, real quick, I know, you have to go. But when john wick he was going through the nightclub, and he's all action scene, and we're following the whole time. And it's just everything about that we're just all came together beautifully. And I was like, and I was like, Damn, that's a really good action scene right there.
Derek Kolstad 1:06:11
Yeah, it was fun is, you know, Chad and Dave, their background is, you know, his his stunt direction and that kind of stuff. But what I loved about working with them. And what I love about where he would have now is a lot of the action beats I wrote into the script are on the screen, like to see that john shoots the guy's foot aliens for and shoots his head. And like that was in the screenplay. And so I know for a lot of like the Marvel movies or the bigger properties. They say john wick fights 15 guys, like in the script, they gave me the opportunity to help them along the action, action wise. And what I love about their directing style is there's no quick cuts, they're doing all these moves, they're landing all of these blows. And it's it's kind of like an ode to the kung fu I grew up with, you know, and we had fun with it then and we're gonna have a blast with it when the next
Dave Bullis 1:07:05
is there a rough date for the release date for the next one? Not, not, not
Derek Kolstad 1:07:09
really. Lionsgate really wants one there. They're talking with various people in Cannes right now. So we could shoot in the fall, or we could shoot in the spring. The Lions Gate has been very, very generous. I mean, it's very rare to be in a place where you have a greenlit movie, you know, and it's greenlit, and they're like, the sooner the better. And yet they want to massage this into a franchise and Kanno who's, you know, implicit in all of this is very careful to do so as well.
Dave Bullis 1:07:40
And that's absolutely phenomenal. And you know, Derek, I want to say congratulations on all your success. He's you know, you've definitely earned it. And you know, I wish you nothing but the best with you know, john with two and hopefully john wick three and you know, all the other future products you have.
Derek Kolstad 1:07:54
Thanks a lot, man. I enjoyed talking to you.
Dave Bullis 1:07:56
Oh, my pleasure, man. Anytime we get talking about like movies like anyone who's seen man skeeto or were killed dozer or future or you see rubber. Yes, I did see rubber Yes.
Derek Kolstad 1:08:11
That you know,
Dave Bullis 1:08:11
if you ever really want to punish yourself, and this goes for finale, you Derek or anyone listening? If you want to see the worst film that I've ever seen, I know exactly what it is. And it's called Nuki. What Nuki it's NUK ie, it's a movie about two aliens that crash land in Africa. And it is it was supposed to be like a kid's movie like a ripoff of et. And it is so odd and bad and boring and dead. It's It's It's hailed as you know, they usually have the worst movies ever made. They usually put plan nine on but plan nine is actually entertaining. This is just bad. So so if you ever and I'll link to in the show notes too, if anybody actually wants to venture out to see Nuki but it is absolutely barn on the worst movie I've ever seen in my life.
Derek Kolstad 1:09:01
Obviously, martyrs, martyrs No, that is one of the most disturbing horror movies I've ever seen. So
Dave Bullis 1:09:07
okay, I'll make I'm making a note of that.
Derek Kolstad 1:09:09
That and three extremes is awesome.
Dave Bullis 1:09:12
Yeah, I've seen extreme extremes.
Derek Kolstad 1:09:14
Yeah. And go for hours, man.
Dave Bullis 1:09:17
Yeah, seriously. I mean, we could always be talking I mean, that's a that's what helped me fight you know, find somebody like yourself, who just says seen all these random movies that I've seen. And I'm gonna check out that movie Casablanca you mentioned I
Derek Kolstad 1:09:30
don't Hey, when you're out, man, give me a shout, dude.
Dave Bullis 1:09:35
We'll do Derek.
Derek Kolstad 1:09:42
I don't do Twitter anything.
Dave Bullis 1:09:44
Derek Kolstad 1:09:46
I just I just a private guy, man.
Dave Bullis 1:09:50
Cool. And, you know, everybody can find me at Dave bulls.com. You can you can find you can find me I'm a I try to be private but I got way too much social stuff going on. You don't even need channels. Um, but actually, Derek, I want to say thanks again for coming on. And please, anytime want to come back, just let me know.
Derek Kolstad 1:10:08
Sure. Thanks. Good luck, man!
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- Derek Kolstad – IMDB
- John Wick
- John Wick Chapter 2
- John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum
- Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
- Audible – Get a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook