Friday, February 21, 2014

Drew Chapman's "The Ascendant"

Drew Chapman was born and raised in New York City. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a BA in History. His early work history included: newspaper reporter, bartender, bike messenger, knish vendor at Yankee Stadium, and bootleg T-shirt salesman at Madison Square Garden. He wrote his first novel in fourth grade. It remains unpublished.

After college Chapman moved to Los Angeles and began working in film production. He got an agent and took a position as staff writer for Disney Animation. He has since written on projects for studios including Disney, Fox, Universal, Warner Brothers and Sony. He wrote and directed a feature film, Stand Off, with Dennis Haysbert and Robert Sean Leonard.

He also works extensively in television. He has sold pilots to ABC, Fox, ABC Family, and Sony TV. Chapman recently wrote and produced an eight-part limited-series for ABC called The Assets, a cold-war thriller based on a true story.

Here Chapman shares some thoughts on adaptation of his new novel, The Ascendant:
Who do I want to see cast in the movie version of my book? Good question. But here’s the problem. I’m a screenwriter as well as a novelist. I’ve seen firsthand how important it is to get the right person to bring your words to life. But here’s the additional problem: I’m also a producer on the shows I write. Which can lead to conflicting goals—and complicated internal dialogue. It’s my job to make the show sophisticated, but also as widely watched as possible. I just sold The Ascendant to Fox to turn into a TV show, so the conversation going on in my head runs something like this:

Novelist Chapman: I was talking to a friend and she said she thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt would be wonderful for the Garrett Reilly part.

Producer Chapman: Gordon-Levitt? He won’t do TV anymore. He’s a movie star. Plus, he’s too nerdy.

Screenwriter Chapman: It’s not a bad idea. We should try and get him.

Producer Chapman. I was thinking we should go after the guy from Chicago Fire. He’s really good looking. And women go nuts for him.

Screenwriter Chapman: He doesn’t exactly exude braininess. Garrett Reilly has to read as smart.

Producer Chapman: Are you being difficult?

Screenwriter Chapman. What? No. I just want to make this show as classy as possible…

Producer Chapman: Don’t take this personally—I really like you—but you’re being replaced. We’re going in a new direction on the writing front.

Screenwriter: What? You can’t.

Novelist Chapman: There’s this wonderful British actor. He’s only done stage work, but…

Producer Chapman: What’s your name again?

Novelist Chapman: Drew Chapman. I wrote the book this show will be based on.

Producer Chapman: There’s a book?

Novelist Chapman: The Ascendant. You told me you loved it.

Producer Chapman: Can you write dialogue? I just replaced the writer and I’ll need someone who can come up with fun dialogue.

Screenwriter Chapman: I’m still on the phone, you know.

Novelist Chapman: What’s the pay?

Producer Chapman: A hell of a lot more than you make writing books.

Novelist Chapman: I’m in. And did I mention that I love Chicago Fire? Really great show.
Visit Drew Chapman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue