N: Sequels aside, do you think anything
like BR will ever be made again, given the industry's apparent
preference for CGI as opposed to "hands-on" SFX?
PS: Well, technically speaking, contemporary SF films mix
digital effects with "real" miniatures and other hands-on
effects all the time. Attack of the Clones is the first example
that springs to mind; everyone's gone on and on about the CG work
in that movie, but Clones also used model cities and special
makeup effects, you know.
The wonderful thing about Hollywood is that occasionally, despite
all efforts to the contrary, an intelligent, thoughtful film manages
to slip through the back door and into your local multiplex. So
sure, something approaching Blade Runner's quality is bound
to come along. And don't forget, Hollywood isn't the only filmmaking
entity - there's also the American indie and international filmmaking
communities to consider. Those groups produce quality work all the
time. To take one example, look at Japan's recent spate of smart,
stylish horror films. Cure, Ring, Audition,
Ghost Actress (which is also titled Don't Look Up),
Pulse… I mean, each of those is a pretty damned impressive
piece of work.
Then again, do I think we're likely to soon see a new spate of
big-budgeted American projects like Blade Runner?
A popular series of movies which would weld the bottomless resources
of a major studio to the deeper sensibilities of a low-budget art
film? No way. I mean, BR did that, but it was a fluke. So
don't hold your breath.
N: A couple of years ago you said,
"I'd really, really love to have an expanded edition of Future
Noir out in bookstores by 2002, to tie in with the film's twentieth
anniversary." And we would love to read it. Will we be seeing
it? With the 300 excluded pages reinstated? And updates on all that
has happened since, including the making of the Special Edition?
PS: At this point, nothing's definite. I have begun
work on an expanded edition, which includes most of the previously
deleted stuff along with a great deal of new material. Including,
as you say, information on the making of the Special Edition.
The problem seems to be, at this point anyway, that certain departments
within my publishing company need to be convinced that okaying such
an expanded work would be in their best economic interests. I happen
to think it would. So do a lot of other people. But… Tell you
what. You really want to see an expanded Future Noir? Then
write a letter or send an email to HarperCollins in New York. Or
circulate a petition. Publishers do listen to their readerships,
you know - especially if they hear enough noise from them. In fact,
a certain level of insistence from fans of the original Future
Noir demanding an expanded edition just might carry enough weight
to tip the scales in my favor.
Anyway, in the meantime, I continue to explore the issue at my
end. I'm rarin' to go, believe me.
By the way, if you don't mind, since we're talking about publishers,
I'd like to put in a good word for my United Kingdom publishers,
Orion Media. Orion has just been a super company to work with. Friendly,
supportive, extremely professional. They've also, in my opinion,
designed the best dust jacket of all the Future Noir foreign
editions; I mean, the book's been reprinted in Japan, Spain, Italy,
the USA and so on. But Orion's the only company that's come up with
a cover that, I feel, does justice to the film and my book. So not
only are they great to work with, Orion also has taste! They published
the Alien and Aliens screenplay books I edited a couple
of years ago. So buy Orion books! I can't say enough good things
about those people.
N: In some ways, the forced excising
of chunks of your book parallels what happened to Blade Runner.
Given that there are further difficulties now that look likely to
delay the release of the Blade Runner Special Edition DVD
set until 2003, it seems the complications continue. Could you explain
the BR rights situation to us - we're very confused.
PS: You're not the only one! (laughs) BR's rights
situation has always been something of a quagmire. You have a major
studio involved (Warner Brothers), a major production company (Scott
Free), and a separate entity called The Blade Runner Partnership.
There's also some interpersonal friction going on. The good news
is that various attorneys from these three entities are still talking
to each other. So maybe we're moving forwards, towards a final resolution
on this issue.
But you've also brought up something I'd like to correct. You see,
I think there may be a misperception about how Future Noir's
300 pages went missing. HarperCollins never arbitrarily said, "Cut
this! Cut that!" In fact, my editor on Future Noir,
Caitlin Blasdell, was uncommonly supportive of the book while I
was writing it. The problem was, I turned in a manuscript you could
have used to ballast an oil tanker. So the edits I made came about
from the result of a mutual understanding - I and my publisher both
knew that, if the manuscript had been kept at its original length,
HarperCollins would have had to jack up the price of Future Noir
far beyond its present cost. It's simple economics - more pages,
more paper. Which costs more money.
So FN's "missing" 300 pages basically came down
to a financial issue, as do most things in America. Which was upsetting,
if legitimate. I do understand and respect the business end of publishing/filmmaking,
you know, far more than some might think. It's only fair, right?
I mean, if you're in business with someone who's willing to bankroll
your project, then part of your responsibility is to be as fiscally
responsible as possible while you're creating that project. I'm
not saying you should tweak your creative elements because
some MBA doesn't like or understand them.What I'm saying is that
it's both wise and fair for you to explore the most cost-effective
ways of conjuring up those elements. After all, I didn't pay the
bills for Future Noir - HarperCollins did!
But…! (laughs) You knew that was coming, right? Anyway, the
near-crippling problem I had with this massive pruning job was the
time frame I was given to accomplish it in. That was very, very
narrow. Future Noir would be a far better book, in my opinion,
if I'd had more than a few days to finish the necessary nips and
tucks. That's why I always cringe a bit when someone compliments
me on the book. I had to cut appendices and compress chapters and
rewrite material so quickly that the end result, I fear, more closely
resembles a first draft than a finished work. Now, don't get me
wrong - I do think that I'd done a man's job on Future Noir,
as Gaff would say. Particularly considering the last-minute curve
ball that was thrown at my head. But that's another reason I so
want to do an expanded edition - in my opinion, the original still