Frequently Asked Questions

It’s been a while since I tackled some smaller questions that I get a lot. Hopefully this will clear the air on a few topics that I have been asked repeatedly over the last few months.

Q: What’s the status of Hoodwinked 2?
A: Since I am only the writer, I don’t have much to do with the production. Director Mike Disa has been very kind to include me at many stages. He’s shown me the new character designs (which are very close to the first film, but “upgraded” in their articulation). He’s shown me tons of production art (fantastic). I got to see a very early story reel of the whole film (this means storyboards edited to temp audio). And while the budget is bigger, Mike is having to do the same thing we did on the first film: find creative solutions to take the film beyond it’s resources. This second film is MUCH bigger in scope. There are more exotic locations, bigger action sequences, more characters, and a deeper story to tell between the characters.

In Hoodwinked, these characters barely have time to meet each other before the final act. The second film was a chance for Red, Wolf, Granny and others to truly get to know each other and work as a team from the very beginning. This story is also a more linear one, instead of the “multiple flashbacks” model. We felt like we’ve done that already, and there were new things we wanted to try with a straightforward storytelling structure. I think you’re going to really enjoy the NEW places we go. 
Remember when Empire Strikes Back came out and there was NO sandy desert? Just miles of snow? That’s the change up we’re going for in Hoodwinked 2!

Q: Why were RED and the WOODSMAN recast for Hoodwinked 2?
A: It’s always difficult to get the exact same cast back on a sequel. I know in Jim Belushi’s case, he was never really comfortable with the accent for the Woodsman. He wanted to help us out and loved the film, but he kept saying, “I’m not an accent guy.” So he had a hard time connecting to that character. So while I was very happy to have someone like Jim onboard, it was no surprise to me that he wasn’t up for #2. 
As for Anne Hathaway, have you SEEN her career lately? She has skyrocketed. It’s clear to me that her involvement in the first film was a nice favor for Harvey and the last of her “little girl roles.” Right after Hoodwinked, she did The Devil Wears Prada… and Get Smart… and Rachel Getting Married… You can see how a sequel to an animated film is not in her trajectory anymore. I’m really happy for everything that is happening for her now. Hayden Panettiere is really perfect to take over the role, since we are taking Red into more of the “teen super girl” mode anyway. 

Q: Why aren’t you directing Hoodwinked 2?
A: From the start, to choose the sequel to my first movie as my second movie seemed like a real lateral move. I wanted to become more than “the Hoodwinked Guy” and also more than “the Animation Guy.” Directing one more Hoodwinked film would have put me deeper into a pigeonhole that has been hard enough to get out of already.
The biggest reason is that, to be as diplomatic as I can, I did not have a good experience with some key players on the first film.  To put it lightly, I was not treated well. I have no interest in working with people like that, plain and simple. Life’s too short.

Q: What happened to Andrew Henry’s Meadow, that big Zach Braff movie you were set to direct last year?
A: In a nutshell, Fox decided they didn’t want to make the movie. After several drafts with writer Adam Braff and a year’s worth of development and artwork, they could not pull the trigger and green light the film. I was very frustrated, to say the least. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if a film is good or not. It comes down to economics. The film was in a genre that was not making any money, starring unknowns and had a big budget requiring a lot of effects. And on top of all that, I am an untested live action director.

Zach and Adam have high hopes for bringing the project back to life, and I have made it very clear that I am ready to jump back in as director when it happens. It’s a shame, because this movie would blow the doors off of any of the other kid adventure stuff that came out last year (City of Ember, Golden Compass, Spiderwick Chronicles). It’s such an amazing story and so visually different from any of those, that I firmly believe it will rise from the ashes again someday. 

Q: Did Ahmet Zappa write the Fraggle Rock script with you? Or did you write a script based on his story?
A: Neither. Ahmet wrote a treatment a few years ago, which is no longer the story for the film. The current script is based on my original story. Having said that, Ahmet continues to be a producer on the film and one of the biggest Fraggle experts around. His suggestions for my story have made it better, and I’ll credit him with a couple of KEY plot points and major turning points in the story’s development. Plus, he’s a fun guy to throw ideas around with and knows where to get a good steak.

Q: What is Harvey Weinstein like? Is he good or evil?
A: This is the big, constant, ever-asked question. Who IS Harvey Weinstein? I’m not sure of the real answer, but I can tell you what I have encountered. The guy has always been good to me, he has always treated me well. While the man can be intimidating in a room, I have found that he warms up quickly if you approach him with humor, and that he truly, truly loves movies and loves making them. Now in the business world, I have no doubt that he is a real shark. But he values filmmakers. He values what they bring to the table. Say what you may about the guy, but he is one of the few people in town who can make a decision for a studio project and then things happen.

As for the nickname “Darth Weinstein,” given by the fanboys of Fanboys, I think that’s a cartoonish generalization by people who have no clue as to what really happened on that project. You can read my past blogs on the subject, but it takes a lot of people working together to make a film that is ready to hit theaters. And one of the elements that has to be satisfied is the studio. Fanboys did not satisfy some of the studio’s notes, so changes had to be made for it to be released by that studio, plain and simple. 
All I can tell you is that I have worked on NINE FILMS with the Weinstein camp, and I have never seen “Darth Weinstein.” I have not seen a guy who wants to “ruin” films, or sabotage filmmakers. He’s got an agenda, make no mistake, but part of navigating this business is facing that agenda and negotiating your own agenda alongside it.
And now, here is a SPECIAL SECTION to all the HATERS I have encountered on the internet. Let me try to summarize all fifty posts I have read and funnel them into one question:
Q: You made Hoodwinked and it was the worst film I have ever seen. Since you are a mediocre filmmaker who doesn’t know what he’s doing, are you now going to massacre my childhood by f#*%ing up Fraggle Rock?
A: No. But thanks for caring enough to ask.

If you are one of those who expect Fraggle Rock to be a shallow, horrible shadow of the series, I look forward to surprising you and exceeding your expectations. And if anyone in the world of “internet journalism” wants to check their facts or hear from the actual filmmaker on the project, just ASK ME. You know where to reach me. Or you guys can all just keep making stuff up out of thin air. That’s probably far more interesting.
As for any updates on the Fraggle Rock project itself, I had a very positive meeting with Harvey and he had some minor notes. Nothing crazy at all, just some adjustments and character things that I have turned around in a new draft. Now this draft is on its way back to Harvey to see if I hit the target. In the meantime, I am prepping a couple other pitches that I am very excited about. But my heart is still set on making Fraggle Rock this year, and moving into production ASAP.

Later gators.

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