Fall Guys: Kinney and Askarieh talk "Killer Stunts" Comic & Film

[Killer Stunts, Inc.]For Scott Alan Kinney, the journey his "Killer Stunts, Inc." comic has taken has been an interesting one. CBR News first told you about the series in a July, 2003 interview with the writer. The book, then with art by David Hahn, was set to preview at the then forthcoming Comic-Con Internataional in San Diego, and it did. Fans got a chance to pick up a preview copy of the book at the convention and the series was set to launch in September of last year. But more than just fans picked up the book. Hollywood came a knocking.

Apparently a number of Hollywood producers picked up the preview book and were interested in doing something with it. At that point all of Kinney's plans went out the window as things changed rapidly. Since then a movie deal was announced with Chuck Gordon's Daybreak Productions and Adrian Askarieh's Prime Universe Productions and publishing plans have changed dramatically. Finally the first issue is set to make its debut this year and CBR News spoke with Kinney about the book and Askarieh about the film.

First up is Kinney, who updated CBR News on the current publishing plans for "Killer Stunts, Inc." On this latest version of the comic Kinney is joined by writer Leo Partible and artist Scott Cohn ("Tales of the TNMT ") is now providing the art. There'll be pages ready for inclusion in the DPG Visions preview book (DPG is now the publisher of "Killer Stunts, Inc.") available at Comic-Con International in San Diego.

"Beyond that, I want to have my solicitation materials to Diamond by their July or August deadline," said Kinney. "We're going to go color on this, so we may need the extra time for that. This sets us up for a late '04 or '05 release."

Wait a second, with Scott Cohn now providing the art, what happened to David "Private Beach" Hahn?

"Everything's cool between me and David Hahn, the original artist on the book," said Kinney. "I'm looking forward to seeing him in San Diego! David is a working professional, and I didn't expect him to adhere to the whims of my crazy development schedule. I set the original series aside for a time, totally recreated it with Leo, and then jumped back into the comic series with a vengeance (and a tight sked). But more than this, the tone and style of the story are now very different."

Kinney explained what happened to the comic once Hollywood came calling.

"When I had this tremendous interest in KSI from Hollywood, I made a decision. I decided I wanted to be involved in the screen story, and even try my hand at the screenplay with Leo Partible. Chuck Gordon and Adrian Askarieh, the in-development film's main producers, agreed to work with Leo and myself as screenwriters. Years ago, I wrote a spec pilot television script, but not under the supervision of two producers, and not on a property that had already generated a lot of 'buzz' in H'w'd. I had to set aside everything to get it right.

"Look, Chuck has major, major experience with films like 'Die Hard' I & II, 'Field of Dreams,' 'October Sky,' etc., and Adrian has developed and set up several projects including the upcoming 'Spy Hunter' for Universal with Chuck, The Rock, and John Woo onboard as well. These guys know what they're doing in the film business. When they felt like Leo and I were getting bogged down in the film story, they told us it was time to consider getting a seasoned screenwriter in to work on the film.

"We weren't writing 'Killer Stunts, Inc.' as an 'indie' film or a small film, we were writing it as a major action/adventure flick. Maybe this was too tall an order for my first attempt. No knock on Leo, who is more experienced in film, either. He had to work with me as the creator of KSI, and I'd sometimes get hung up on details or a plot point and go round and round on it. I finally realized it was time to bring in a Big Gun on the screen story, so I agreed. Chuck and Adrian found it was easy to get a hot writer interested in this property.

"On the comic book side, I needed to take a break after all the time I spent on the film side, so I spent a little time making an award-winning short film with some buddies before getting back into it. I wasn't interested in self-publishing anymore, so when Leo, the Dabel brothers, and Kevin Grevioux ('Underworld'), decided to form a comic book imprint, I started ramping up on all new comic scripts for KSI. I spent over a month on the screen story, and another month on the new comic story after that, so I think the new series is going to rock! We're doing it in color, like I mentioned, and I really like Scott Cohn's visual style and storytelling ability."

Developments on the film side of things have definitely affected Kinney's original plans for the title, but all of those changes have been for the best according to Kinney.

"Well, I wrote an, I kid you not, eighty page 'scriptment' based on my original mini-series story arc. It had lots of vampires, werewolves, and other 'creatures of the night' and their 'underworld' intersecting with Billy, the stuntman and main character in 'Killer Stunts, Inc.,' and his Hollywood world. You know what? It was crazy. My original series scripts had everything and the kitchen sink thrown in for good measure. (Knights in armor? A Great White shark?) But you know what? Why was my main character a stuntman? My original story moved away from the concept of Billy being a tough-as-nails stuntman into an entirely different story.

"I stepped back from the whole thing and realized there was no reason for my protagonist to be a stuntman! The uniqueness of his profession was ultimately lost in the wild and wooly tale I had written. This was all discussed with the producers, and we agreed it was best to go back to the beginning with my stuntman character. Who was this guy? What is his world? What series of events propels the story in an interesting and entertaining direction? How can the main character bring his unique skills and abilities to bear on the circumstances he finds himself in?"

When Kinney first conceived "Killer Stunts, Inc.," Hollywood was an afterthought at best. He just wanted to get that comic out. With Hollywood involved, that meant major changes to his original plans, but Kinney says that's okay, as he was very much involved in that process.

"To be honest, I felt like I was at liberty to change my mind and 're-imagine' my own creation," said Kinney. "It probably wouldn't have felt the same if somebody else would have taken it and done that.

"I'm still writing the comic book for me. I'm not writing something I don't think is cool. I really don't know how to write another way. I also think I'm a much better storyteller and writer as a result of all the development time. I'm excited about 'Killer Stunts, Inc.' the comic series and I think that comes across in the story. I'm a huge comic and movie fanboy, and I've got one foot in both worlds. What more could I ask for?"

"Killer Stunts, Inc." producer Adrian Askarieh told CBR News that work on the film is proceeding at a fast pace. Both a writer and director are attached to the film and Askarieh will be taking packages to the studios shortly to show off what they've got. A public announcement is expected shortly.

With a movie featuring a title like "Killer Stunts, Inc.," well, you better have some killer stunts on the big screen. Today, computer generated imagery is often substituted for the dangerous stunts required by modern scripts. But with a movie setting its sites squarely on the action, live stunts are an absolute must. That need for live action hasn't scared Hollywood away at all, in fact it's driven interest forward.

"Everyone is anxious to get this project," Askarieh told CBR News. "I have had three separate phone calls from three different executives at three different studios wanting to know what's going on with the project. The idea of a back-to-the basics action movie is very appealing, especially in such an overstuffed CGI summer."

For Askarieh, there are three strengths "Killer Stunts, Inc." has that have made it attractive for movie adaptation.

"The characters, the world and the action. Chuck Gordon and myself have always wanted to see a character like Billy take us to the most fascinating world of stunts and near misses."

Askarieh told CBR News that it was important for all involved that the comic and film be in sync story wise, setting the stage for a film franchise with incredible possibilities.

"We felt that the organic hook of Scott's book was strong enough to build a multi-faceted franchise around," said Askarieh. "It's very important for us that the fans of 'Killer Stunts, Inc.' experience a cohesive universe in comics, films and video games (which we will also announce shortly)."

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