Often, when Hollywood buys the work of a writer to turn into a motion picture, it can spend years in whats known as development hell before ever seeing the light of day.
But for Macon-based writer Nathan Edmondson, it shouldnt take nearly as long to see his graphic novel Who is Jake Ellis? on the big screen.
Thats because 20th Century Fox and producer Peter Chernin (The Heat, Rise of the Planet of the Apes) announced last week that David Yates, who helmed the final four movies in the Harry Potter series, has been signed to direct Who is Jake Ellis? for the studio.
Fox put out the word that it would make the movie, which made it easier to attract directors, said Edmondson, 28, a native of Augusta and a Mercer University graduate. (The producer) heard Yates was interested, so he flew to London to sit down with Yates and convince him. ... We were really eager to hear how this had gone, and my manager called him, and from that point we knew we had a deal.
Its the difference between finding out youre pregnant and telling people you have a baby -- you very much want to share that news. ... We knew we had a deal internally, and we celebrated cautiously.
Edmondson co-created Who is Jake Ellis? with artist Tonci Zonjic in 2011 for Image Comics. The story follows Jon Moore, an ex-CIA analyst on the run, aided by the mysterious Jake Ellis, a master of espionage only Moore can see.
Edmondson and Zonjic have nearly completed a sequel, Where is Jake Ellis? that continues the story. In the works are plans for future Jake Ellis graphic novels, which are stories of some length in comic strip format, often bound as a book.
Edmondson said he hopes the first movie is successful enough that it becomes a franchise, a la Harry Potter or The Bourne Identity series.
Its a complicated process, and lightning can always strike for better or for worse, he said. But we are in as good a place as anybody can be in, really. Were also further along than the trades have let on. Next, were going to be looking at the screenplay and casting. ... Youre always cautiously optimistic.
Edmondson said the project is looking to attract A-list stars for the various roles, something that initially surprised him. When the producer asked him whom he envisioned in the storys roles, he responded with lesser-known names, thinking that producers wouldnt want to spend a lot of money on certain actors.
I wanted this to be a financial success and he said, I dont like your ideas, and he told me his ideas, which were the biggest A-list actors you could ever imagine, Edmondson said. I dont want to jinx it, but I know theyre going after much bigger fish than I could ever imagine. I was very pleased with the names. ... Well see.
A lot of people want to work with a franchise, a lot of people want to work with David Yates, a lot of actors want to work with Chernin because hes an empire builder. These are the kind of roles that actors are going to be attracted to. Well see how it ends up, but Im very optimistic about casting when that news comes out.
While Edmondson has written screenplays before, hes not going to be writing the script for Jake Ellis. He said Yates has a specific writer he wants to work with on the project.
At this point, Im turning it over to another artist, he said. Theyre going to make it their work of art, their thing, and Im very happy to take a back seat on this thing.
Edmondson, who spoke at last weekends Crossroads Writers Conference in Macon, is busy with other projects besides Jake Ellis.
Later this week, Marvel Comics is scheduled to announce that Edmondson will work on two new titles for the company featuring two famed characters. Previously, Edmondson worked on Marvels Ultimate Iron Man and Ultimate X-Men titles.
He moved to Washington, D.C., after graduating from Mercer to work for a nonprofit agency and met his wife, Gretchen, there. The couple moved back to Macon, where Edmondson started to write. His first graphic novel, Olympus, was published by Image Comics in 2009 and later optioned by Hollywood. That project hasnt gone forward, though.
Edmondson said he hopes the attention Jake Ellis is gaining will help lend momentum to Olympus. Two of his other books, The Activity and Dancer, also are being developed into screenplays.
Edmondson also is writing the graphic novel Tom Clancys Splinter Cell: Echoes, linked to the Splinter Cell video game series.
Writers hoping to break into any part of the film or publishing industries, he said, should read as much as you can and write as much as you can.
The one thing successful writers have in common is that they never stop trying.
To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.