Rogue One’s Gary Whitta on His Unconventional New Sci-Fi Gundog

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This fall, from the author of Rogue One, The E-book of Eli, and After Earth, a model new sci-fi journey is on the way in which. Set in a future the place Earth has been conquered by large alien mechs, a younger girl finds a map that may maintain the important thing to saving humanity. Sounds cool, proper? Effectively, it’s referred to as Gundog however can’t see it in theaters. Actually, you possibly can’t “see” it, interval, which may be very a lot by design.

“Originally of my profession, like nearly 20 years in the past, I’d have written Gundog as a spec screenplay,” author Gary Whitta instructed io9 over video chat. “Within the naive sense, I didn’t actually perceive at that time that massive costly unique science fiction from not notably well-established writers [are] a nonstarter…At the same time as established as I’m in my profession now, and I’ve acquired Star Wars on my resume and all this cool stuff, if I wrote that as a spec screenplay, I do know precisely what’s going to occur. It’s going to go to each studio, perhaps 15 or 20 completely different persons are going to learn it throughout the studios. They’re all going to go. ‘Too costly. It’s unique.’ And 6 months of my life principally is wasted so 20 individuals can learn a script and put it on a shelf. It’s heartbreaking. If I’m going to that quantity of labor into one thing. I wish to know that it’s going to search out an viewers.”

Rogue One, which Whitta co-wrote.

Rogue One, which Whitta co-wrote.
Picture: Lucasfilm

So Whitta had an thought. After spending a while with comedian guide author Mark Millar a couple of years again, he realized the person behind Kick-Ass and Kingsman had all of it found out. “He will get the inventive satisfaction of writing the comedian and getting it on the cabinets the way in which that he needs it. However then the industrial satisfaction of it discovering a a lot greater viewers by means of a film or a TV adaptation,” Whitta stated. “So he type of wins creatively and commercially, which I believe may be very, very sensible.”

That’s why, in 2015, when Whitta had an unique thought he figured was means too formidable to be made right into a film, he tried one thing else. “I had one other thought for a spec screenplay I wished to put in writing referred to as Abomination, which was this medieval horror factor,” he stated. “And once more I knew nobody was going to make it as a result of it was medieval, it was a interval piece, it was costly. So I wrote it as a novel as an alternative, and that did get printed. It was a lot simpler than the Sisyphean battle of attempting to push a film uphill in Hollywood. And it discovered an viewers and folks favored it. And I take into account {that a} win.”

It truly grew to become a double win as a result of, as soon as individuals learn and favored the guide, guess what occurred? “Individuals begin [asking] ‘Are the display screen rights to this obtainable?’” Whitta stated. “I’m like, ‘Wait, the place had been you when this was a screenplay?’ However oh, now it’s a bit of underlying IP and that’s simply the way in which that the enterprise works.”

Denzel Washington in The Book of Eli, which Whitta wrote.

Denzel Washington in The E-book of Eli, which Whitta wrote.
Picture: Warner Bros.

To his level, Whitta cites The Starvation Video games as the proper instance of what he feels is the best option to get a narrative on the market. “If Suzanne Collins had written The Starvation Video games as a spec screenplay as an alternative of as a novel, I assure you nobody’s ever heard of The Starvation Video games right this moment,” he stated. “And that’s not simply on the story in any respect. It’s simply the truth of the market. Nobody makes that film as a result of it’s wacky and it’s a giant swing. It’s like, what the hell is that this? However as a result of she wrote it as a guide and tens of millions of individuals purchased the guide, now Hollywood’s lining up as a result of they know the viewers is there.”

Which brings us again to Gundog. Whitta got here up with the idea in 2004 as a option to simply make a narrative about one thing he loves—mechs—however didn’t truly write it till 2019-2020. “ I used to be sitting there for some time pondering, ‘What do I wish to do with that?’ Like, do I wish to ship it to publishers? However I used to be pondering perhaps that is the one the place I simply do all of it myself simply to see,” he stated. “Nobody else’s assist. And, you already know, perhaps it implies that it doesn’t discover as massive an viewers, however I like the thought of simply doing all of it by myself phrases.”

woman looking over a big warehouse

Gundog idea artwork by Owen Freeman.
Picture: Owen Freeman/Gary Whitta

He didn’t do it on their lonesome although. Realizing that audiobooks are a vital a part of the guide market, he recruited a few of his well-known pals (similar to Shannon Woodward from Westworld and The Final Of Us Half II, and Journey and Murderer’s Creed composer Austin Wintory) to actually make that piece of it shine. However, once more, Whitta had one more thought to search out much more of an viewers with out Hollywood’s gatekeeping: he made the audiobook into nine-hour-long episodes, which he’s been debuting one by one dwell on Twitch, with dwell dialogue and a post-show Q&A, after which releasing as a story podcast. Like Mark Millar, he simply retains getting bites of that apple.

“Lately, whether or not or not it’s YouTube or Twitch or self-publishing on Kindle, no matter it might be, there are methods across the gatekeepers now,” he stated. “You don’t should ask for anybody’s cash or permission to get a narrative in entrance of an viewers. So it’s been enjoyable to get to experiment with attempting to get on to an viewers and never having to fret about anybody getting in your means.”

Now, there’s one massive drawback with this, which Whitta humbly acknowledges. He doesn’t make a residing writing unique novels or releasing them in audio codecs. Whitta’s day job, 90% of what he does by his personal estimation, is that of paid Hollywood screenwriter—a job that affords him the power to dabble and experiment with these completely different kinds. And he’s absolutely conscious it’s a lucky place to be in as a result of not solely is he making nice cash, however he has a following, which not each author or creator has, and can be a vital a part of the equation.

Whitta

Whitta
Picture: Gary Whitta

“I bear in mind speaking to Andy Weir about The Martian years in the past…as a result of earlier than that was even a guide, he printed that in chapters on his web site and he had just a little fan web site,” Whitta recounted. “And I stated ‘What was it about The Martian that made it blow up?’ He was like, ‘Actually, to today, I can’t inform you. I don’t know.’ However the one tip that he gave me was, [The Martian] wasn’t the very first thing that he placed on his web site. He had different tales and constructed just a little little bit of an viewers, which he referred to as kindling. Whenever you acquired sufficient kindling, and you lastly have one thing that’s going to take off, there are sufficient individuals there that can go off and inform two or three of their pals they usually inform their pals, however you’ve acquired to have that kindling to start with.”

“And it’s an actual disgrace as a result of I really feel like there are most likely 1,000,000 books on the Kindle Amazon Retailer which are actually good, like the subsequent Harry Potter is on the market someplace, proper?” he continues. “The subsequent Woman on the Prepare or subsequent Starvation Video games is on the market, however they’re simply sitting there with about 1,000,000 different books as a result of they don’t know get anybody to learn them.”

THE LAST STARFIGHTERS idea reel

Will audiences learn or take heed to or watch Whitta current Gundog? That’s nonetheless in progress. Within the meantime, he has two lower-budget scripts he’s attempting to get on the market and continues to be attempting to make the film of his goals, The Final Starfighters, a sequel to the cult 1984 movie. Sadly, in the meanwhile, that movie is an ideal instance of every little thing Whitta has been saying in regards to the Hollywood machine being so troublesome to navigate.

“We took it to Warner Brothers, they cherished it, they usually wished to do it, however ever since then, we’ve simply been caught in contractual stuff,” he stated. “We’ve been attempting to determine that out for some time now. So it’s nonetheless alive [but] proper now I don’t assume there’s that a lot occurring with it.” Whereas we wait although, there’s one other world of heroes, villains, aliens, and science fiction followers can get pleasure from from the thoughts of Gary Whitta: Gundog. And you may get pleasure from it nevertheless you see match.

Gundog is presently obtainable to take heed to on Whitta’s Twitch in addition to his YouTube. The podcast is coming very quickly, so go forward and subscribe now. The guide model is coming quickly too.


Need extra io9 information? Try when to anticipate the most recent Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s subsequent for the DC Universe on movie and TV, and every little thing that you must find out about Home of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Energy.

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