Barry Griffith doesn’t know it yet, but tonight is the night fate has chosen to be the night of his death… his murder. At a gas station in the middle of nowhere, late at night, his wife Jenny appears… no car… no coat and looking older than when he saw her last. That’s because this is not the woman he received a good-bye kiss from this morning. This woman has been a widow for over four years and has made an impossible journey back in time to try to stop her husband’s murder. Will they be able to escape the killers or does fate only have one plan… one possible outcome… ONE WAY?
One Way marks the first production of Hours Apart Films, born of a partnership between American author Jeff Lane and British film maker Aaron Thomas. The original novel/audiobook's narrative was set in Maine, USA, but will be transplanted to the UK for its film adaptation.
A real page turner with elements of time travel and darker, possibly psychic forces it certainly has all the potential to make a gripping movie, with crowdfunding support through Indiegogo. Thanks to the marvels of the internet, I was able to chat with Jeff and Aaron about the project, work in general and some their of own favourite movies and TV.
Purple Patch: Firstly Jeff, where did the idea for One Way come from?
Jeff Lane: I have actually always loved time travel stories. As a kid I loved Back To The Future, Doctor Who, Quantum Leap and stories and shows like that. Fast forward several years. I was working late at a call centre (in Maine) and stopped to get gas on the way home. Heading back to my car, I just got a magical, mystical feeling like anything could happen. That feeling stuck with me for a few days and my mind worked it into a story of getting visited from the future with a warning and pulling me into a crazy adventure. That was the seed that I eventually worked into a wife travelling back in time to stop her husband from getting murdered.
Initially it was just going to be a straight narrative of that night with all the reveals about the "how" and the "what happened after" being revealed through the course of the night. But then I got the idea to split the narrative into the two timelines; the night of the murder and the wife's timeline in the intervening four years between the murder and her eventual journey back in time. That allowed us to get to know Jenny and share her pain and journey more than her being this mysterious enigma that shows up from the future. I Iiked the idea of switching back and forth between the two "stories" and eventually weaving them together.
It was also fun to play with the rules of cause and effect. Every time travel story has its own take on whether you can go back and make changes in the past that will effect the future. I wanted to really pose the question as to whether or not this is possible. Could you go back and stop the Titanic from sinking or Kennedy from being assassinated? And if you did, the very fact that these events had been changed, you would have grown up in a world where that never happened, right? So how would you know to go back and try to stop something that never happened? These are the paradox discussions at the heart of many time travel tropes, so I thought I'd add my two cents to the genre.
PP: Two things that particularly struck me in the book: Firstly, Jenny's means of travelling back is very (for want of a better word) organic. Although scientific technology is involved to an extent, Jenny doesn't actually board a physical vehicle to make her journey. I haven't seen that approach used too often. Did you consciously aim for this from the start, or did it feel like the natural way to go as you developed the tale?
JL: When I first started, I wrote the first 8 or 9 thousand words not knowing how she got back. I knew I wanted it to be different... No DeLorean in the bushes with ice melting off. The "organic" or innate part appealed to me as it was very personal. Only Jenny could do this for Barry.
PP: The second thing that really struck me: The chief villain of the piece is the killer, Jedidiah Folsom. He really is a nasty piece of work, and genuinely chilling. I was intrigued by the unfolding realisation that he's more than just a killer, there's a lot more going on inside his mind than meets the eye, and (without wishing to give too much away) a hint of hidden, possibly psychic powers that aids him in tracking his prey. Again, did Jedidiah's character come to you fully formed, or did he develop along the way? Was there any inspiration from people you encountered or heard of?
JL: No, Jedidiah revealed himself along the way. At first it was just two serial killers, but as I realized I had to write some of the story from their perspective, I had to give them motivations for doing what they do. Rodney is just damaged and susceptible to an older leadership figure. Jedidiah had to be more complex. And his metaphysical sense of time and destiny made him a perfect antagonist for Barry and Jenny. Not just any victim would do. It had to be Barry... And then Jenny to make his chase compelling.
PP: I'd like to talk now about the journey of "One Way" from book to screen. Firstly, could you tell me about the process of publishing the eBook (following This Paper World), the response and how you connected with Aaron.
JL: Publishing as an eBook was a follow up to releasing it first as a serialized podcast audio book. I got such great feedback and so many requests for a print edition that I had to take the steps to get ONE WAY (and my previous book This Paper World) out in eBook format. It took a while to learn to the ropes of eBook publishing; formatting, then different distribution channels, etc. Plus reading it for audio, some of the typos and grammatical errors don't come through when I read it aloud. No hiding them in print though. So after a few more rounds myself and some great volunteer proofreaders, we got "most" of the errors. Then it was just a matter of getting the word out at grass roots level. That's something I still work at every day.
As for meeting up with Aaron, he actually reached out to me when I was podcasting my first novel This Paper World. He was very kind and gracious, letting me know how much he loved the book. I think there was a link in his email signature which I followed to see some of his film work. I was so impressed by what I saw. We kept conversing over email and then eventually talked about collaborating creatively. We have been working together for several years now. His production company filmed a literary trailer (which you can find on YouTube) for This Paper World. He also collaborated with another company to turn that footage into an app; "The world's first playable trailer". Now we are tackling our first feature together. (Our first together, I should say. Aaron has an extensive filmography on his own).
PP: Aaron, if I could ask you what attracted you to Jeff's work, and in particular to One Way as a film project?
Aaron Thomas: As a creative I had been planning on collaborating with another writer for some time before meeting Jeff. I listened to all the great authors of today from Patrick E. McLean to Scott Sigler. I came across Jeff's work and was totally immersed in his novel This Paper World and began sharing his work with others and gave him feedback on how I felt his work was truly great.
During this time I had just produced a Stephen King trailer for his novella Big Driver, which he has personally approved so I was on a high to contact Jeff and ask him if I could do a trailer for This Paper World and he kindly obliged.
As we were building a great working relationship I suggested to Jeff I could help assist his novels to get published, he was intrigued by this so I suggested we have a marketing tool for each novel; This Paper World would have an gaming app, One Way would be a movie and This Burning World would be an art piece.
If I am honest the day we created this partnership is one of the best days in this business to date. Why we chose One Way is firstly when I first hear the audiobook I loved it so much I listened to it at least four times. It just made sense as we could recreate that world in London, Jeff has a great following in Europe so the adaptation would hopefully not be lost in translation. I hope this answer is not too long winded.
PP: Not at all. Jeff, did you have any reservations initially about transplanting One Way to a British setting for the screen?
JL: For me, I had no reservations about moving the setting to England. I am a bit of an Anglophile anyway. I love British and UK culture and art. I watch a lot of TV and movies from "across the pond", and there was nothing in ONE WAY that HAD to be set in Maine. We did talk about the winter setting, as a big piece of the action happens around and on a frozen lake. Rather than risk not getting the right weather conditions in England, we decided to change the season to autumn and the lake to a wide open field. But the overall story doesn't really change.
PP: Jeff, on the subject of TV and movies from "across the pond", could you tell me about some of your favourites? You mentioned Doctor Who earlier - are the British sci-fi/horror/thriller productions your faves particularly?
JL: As for my favourite British TV, let me see... I love Doctor Who as you mentioned. Have since the 80's which is a bit of a rarity for a kid from the States. Torchwood, Sherlock, Game of Thrones (that counts, right?). I love the whole Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost thing, like Spaced and The Cornetto Trilogy. The original Office. Hmm....Tons of UK actors... especially those that have invaded some of my favourite US shows like The Walking Dead, Deadwood, Homeland, etc. There is just a wealth of talent coming from the UK. I really admire it.
PP: Aaron, as a British film maker, what are some of your favourite movies and TV (UK or otherwise)?
AT: My favourite UK film is Dumar Volume Two which has been released as episodes on iTunes. (Aaron directed it! - Ed) Non UK is The Chaser, Oldboy, Do The Right Thing and I Saw The Devil. Unlike Jeff I am not a fan of UK TV, I must be honest and say I find it to be somewhat dated and not diversified enough for me, however there are great TV dramas like Red Riding I have found very much on point. I have found US TV drama like How To Get Away With Murder, Breaking Bad and True Detective outstanding and hope one day we can offer the same level of entertainment in the UK very soon.
PP: Could you tell me a bit about the actors you've chosen? Did you immediately have actors in mind for the roles who you approached, or did you hold auditions, or was it a mix of the two?
AT: I started casting about two years ago and just finished in January. It was a great process as I use the workshop method (term I coined some years back) with a lot of improv. I do not see this as auditions and relay this to all those involved, for me it takes away the tension an actor may feel when usually going for roles.
This process goes on for some time as it gives me an opportunity to learn more about the person first then look at their abilities in front and behind the camera. It is paramount to me all cast/crew are positive ambitious people as once in the right setting as a team we can achieve anything, support each other and most important learn from each other.
One Way is scheduled for festival screenings in mid-2016, followed by DVD/Blu-Ray release and selected cinema engagements in December 2016.
You can find out more about the project, crowdfunding, and perks available to supporters at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/one-way-the-movie#/
One Way is available in e-book and audio editions from http://jefflaneaudiobooks.com/one-way/