We’re thrilled to announce that PopcornFiction.com, the brilliant genre fiction short story showcase created by screenwrtiter Derek Haas, has joined forces with Mulholland Books. In the weeks and months to come, we look forward to shining a light on Popcorn Fiction, and running select Popcorn Fiction stories on MulhollandBooks.com. Follow the PopcornFiction.com link today to read a short story by Alvaro Rodriguez, writer of MACHETE. And much, much more…
To learn more about the origins of PF, check out the below conversation between Derek Haas (WANTED, 3:10 to Yuma) and writer/director Rian Johnson (BRICK, THE BROTHERS BLOOM).
Rian Johnson: Derek Haas, you and your writing partner, Michael Brandt, virtually poop little nuggets of box-office gold. At this point in your career, you could, without exaggeration, afford to just fill a claw-foot bathtub up with gold Rolexes and luxuriate nakedly for the rest of your days without lifting another finger. Why, then, I put to you, start Popcorn Fiction? Why start a site dedicated to the … I don’t want to call it the lost art, but something that definitely had its heyday back in the fifties, this kind of pulpy short-form fiction. What was the thing that kind of spurred you to start the site up?
Derek Haas: First of all, it’s an honor to get to be interviewed by one my contemporary heroes of the modern cinema whose award-winning and well-loved films …
DH: Never mind. I can’t do that with a straight face. OK, now, Popcorn Fiction, the idea originated when I was just thinking that I love old genre fiction, and it seems like screenwriters every week were setting up some story, a Philip K. Dick story, to be adapted into a movie, or an Isaac Asimov story. Michael and I had adapted an Elmore Leonard short story from the fifties into the movie 3:10 to Yuma. I was just thinking to myself where has all this great genre fiction gone? I’m sure there are magazines dedicated to it, but if there are, no one in Hollywood is reading them. I just thought so many screenwriters who I know love genre movies, love the L.A. Confidentials of the world, The Bourne Identitys, but no one seems to be writing that stuff in short form anymore and in prose. I just, literally, went to ten or so of my screenwriting friends and said, “Would you guys be interested in doing this? Maybe I’ll start a magazine.” Then I realized quickly I had zero idea on how to start a magazine. So I turned to the Internet and set up the site Popcorn Fiction. I got a great response from my screenwriter friends and commissioned them to write 2,000- to 8,000-word stories and really went for genre stories, not the kind of thing that would appear in The New Yorker. Let me qualify that by saying that, obviously, The New Yorker publishes the top, top short-fiction writing in the world. Not to take anything away from The New Yorker, but it’s not the kind of thing that is usually turned into films. Anyway, so that was my goal—get screenwriters writing short fiction, get executives in Hollywood reading short fiction, and maybe we would have a new door into getting original films made because it just seems like everything these days is based on a sequel or a comic book or a graphic novel or an old TV show. I just thought, “Well, maybe here’s a new way to generate some ideas.”
RJ: That’s interesting, from the very inception, the idea of this being geared toward the transition from print into movies was something that was on your mind from the very start.
DH: Yes, I had a publicist when this first started who was going to help me get it out there. And I told her, I really don’t care about the rest of the world reading this, I’d be delighted if this reached outside of Hollywood, and we found readers and fans around the world. But my primary target is Hollywood executives, and within the first six months of publishing, really the first ten to fifteen stories I published—I have a little subscriber button on the site and the subscriber button is basically asking people to just give me their e-mails and I won’t use that e-mail for anything else, and I will notify you when the new story is up—and within the first six months, I probably had five hundred subscribers and I would bet half of those were Hollywood executives.
RJ: Oh, wow. I know a lot of the writers who have contributed to Popcorn Fiction have been screenwriters and you have some, some titans of the screenwriting initiative, you have you know, John August and Scott Frank, but then you also have lesser-known poetasters like myself, and Craig Mazin. (Kidding, Craig, kidding.) What percentage of the contributors do you think are actually screenwriters, as opposed to people who are novelists or write short stories for living?
DH: It’s got to be 80 percent. Because I have written a couple of novels, I’ve met a few more novelists but because I live in Hollywood, I know more screenwriters, and I didn’t open up the site to outside general submissions at first. It was really just who my contacts were, who I could call and say, “Do you want to do this?” and so I just don’t know as many novelists. The ones I do meet, I immediately hit up and say “Are you interested?” and I published a Sam Reaves short story. A few weeks ago, I ran a woman named Alicia Gifford’s short story, she’s a novelist. So, there are a few but they would be an exception.
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