Roger Avary

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Roger Avary
Roger Avary in 2012 Scream Awards
Roger Avary in Ojai, California, 2012
Born Roger d'Avary
(1965-08-23) August 23, 1965 (age 49)
Flin Flon, Manitoba, Canada
Occupation motion picture/television screenwriter, director and producer
Years active 1992-present

Roger Avary (born August 23, 1965) is a Canadian film and television producer, screenwriter and director in the American mass media industry. He worked on Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, for which he and Quentin Tarantino were awarded the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay at the 67th Academy Awards. He wrote the screenplays of Silent Hill and Beowulf. He also directed Killing Zoe and The Rules of Attraction.[1]

Career[edit]

Quentin Tarantino, True Romance, and Pulp Fiction[edit]

In 1981, when Video Out-Takes co-owner Lance Lawson (a name that comes up repeatedly in Avary and Tarantino's films) left to open the now famous Video Archives, Avary went along, writing the store's database program with fellow 6502 programmer Andy Blinn on an Atari 800 computer. Under the vision of Lawson, Video Archives became a gathering place for a group of cinephiles, who became known as "Archivists." Among this group, Avary met an odd and brilliant film enthusiast, Quentin Tarantino. The two became friends, introducing each other to their favorite films.

Early in his career, Avary made a number of contributions to some of Quentin Tarantino's movies. He worked as a cinematographer on Tarantino's unfinished first film, My Best Friend's Birthday. He had at one point written a script called "The Open Road," which Tarantino rewrote. Avary took on the producer's role, and he and Tarantino tried unsuccessfully for several years to get funding so that Tarantino could direct the script himself. Eventually, the script was sold to French producer Samuel Hadida and became the movie True Romance. Since Tarantino was busy prepping Reservoir Dogs, Avary was hired with Tarantino's consent by Tony Scott and Hadida to work as a script doctor on the material, a job which included bringing the length down, reforming the narrative to a linear fashion, and writing a more commercial ending in which the Clarence character is not killed.

When the Paul Brothers, a pair of wealthy bodybuilders who wanted to get into the movies, offered Tarantino funding for his script Natural Born Killers on the condition he include a scene featuring them, he could not write it out of disgust, and asked Avary to write it as a favor. The scene, known as the "Hun Brothers" scene, was described by Oliver Stone as the best scene in the script. It was, however, cut from the final film because, as Stone is quoted as saying on the Natural Born Killers special edition laserdisc, "I fucked it up." Avary co-wrote the background radio dialogue in Reservoir Dogs (1992), and designed the "Dog Eat Dog" logo which appeared in the end credits.

Most notably, Avary contributed material which, combined with Tarantino's, formed the basis of Pulp Fiction (1994) for which he and Tarantino won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Earlier in their careers, Tarantino and Avary had planned on making an anthology movie comprising three short films; one written and directed by Avary, one written and directed by Tarantino, and one written and directed by a third filmmaker, reportedly Adam Rifkin. When the third filmmaker never materialized, Tarantino and Avary took their respective stories and expanded them into full length screenplays separately. Tarantino's story became Reservoir Dogs, and Avary's story became "Pandemonium Reigns". "Pandemonium Reigns" ended up forming the basis of the "Gold Watch" chapter of Pulp Fiction (an earlier version of his website displayed an excerpt from "Pandemonium Reigns", illustrating the changes that were made by Tarantino when writing "The Gold Watch"), and other odd scenes Avary had written during his rewrite of True Romance were reworked and incorporated into the Pulp Fiction script, such as the accidental shooting of Marvin, and the scene in which the bullets fired at Jules and Vincent miss their targets. Tarantino and Avary got together in Amsterdam shortly after the release of Reservoir Dogs, and pasted each other's scenes together into a first draft, after which Avary left to film Killing Zoe, leaving Tarantino to continue subsequent writing of Pulp Fiction. Avary's bizarre 1994 Oscar speech (for Best Original Screenplay) consisted of "I want to thank my beautiful wife, Gretchen, who I love more than anyone else in the world...I'm gonna go now 'cause I really got to take a pee." The "pee comment" was a reference to all five films nominated in 1994 for Best Picture having a key scene where a character excuses themselves to use the bathroom.

Killing Zoe[edit]

Avary also wrote and directed the neo-noir cult thriller Killing Zoe (1994) which Tarantino executive produced. The screenplay was based in part on his experiences travelling through Europe (which he also refers to in Victor's European trip in The Rules of Attraction). Avary had initially intended to write a screenplay completely devoted to this experience, for which Tarantino suggested the ironic title Roger Takes a Trip. But when producer Lawrence Bender called Avary during location scouting on Reservoir Dogs asking if he had a screenplay that took place entirely in a bank so that they could take advantage of an inexpensive location they had no use for, Avary told Bender that he had such a script—and quickly wrote Killing Zoe in under a week, using elements of his European trip as inspiration. While Killing Zoe takes place in Paris, the film was almost entirely shot in downtown Los Angeles locations, with only two days in Paris to shoot the opening credit sequence and two drive-by shots. The film was also an influence on Tarantino; according to Avary, Tarantino, while rewriting Pulp Fiction, added the heroin scenes after viewing a rough cut of Killing Zoe. The film was honored with le Prix très spécial à Cannes 1994, the very same year that Pulp Fiction won the Palme d'Or. It continued to win awards worldwide on the festival circuit, including the Grand Prize at Japan's Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival in February 1994 and the Italian Mystfest. The film was also celebrated by the Cinémathèque Française, who heralded Avary as "the Antonin Artaud of cinema" during their Cinema of Cruelty retrospective.

The Rules of Attraction[edit]

From 1985 to 1986, Avary attended Menlo College, in Atherton, California.[2] The school, "a West coast Bennington", laid the foundations for his film adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel The Rules of Attraction.

In 2002, Avary directed his adaptation of the novel, which he also executive produced. As of 2009, the film ranked as the twenty-seventh highest grossing college comedy of all time.[3] The Rules of Attraction was the first studio movie to prove reliable use of Apple's Final Cut Pro editing system for editing motion picture film.[4] Roger Avary became a spokesperson for Apple's Final Cut Pro product,[5] appearing in Apple print and web ads worldwide. His film from within the film, Glitterati (2004), used elements of Victor's European trip and was shot on digital video. In 2005, he purchased the rights to another Bret Easton Ellis novel Glamorama, and is currently developing it for himself to direct.

In 2005, Avary, at the request of his friend, actor James Van Der Beek, played the part of a peyote-taking gonzo film director Franklin Brauner in the film "Standing Still."[6]

Silent Hill[edit]

In 2006, Avary wrote a screenplay adaptation to the hit Konami videogame, Silent Hill (2006), with French director and friend, Christophe Gans, and Killing Zoe producer Samuel Hadida. Avary and Gans being long time video gamers and fans of the Silent Hill series, collaborated on this game-based film.[7]

Beowulf[edit]

According to Avary's biography on the American Killing Zoe DVD, Avary directed a small, independent musical production of "Beowulf" for the stage in Paris in 1993. Little is known about the nature of the production, but Beowulf seems to have been a lifelong obsession with Avary. In the production notes of the same Killing Zoe DVD, Avary is said to have given copies of Beowulf to the actors as inspiration for their character's motivations.

In the late 1990s, Avary was hired by Warner Bros studio to adapt Neil Gaiman's comic series The Sandman to the big screen. He frequently sparred with the studio over the direction of the film, with Avary wanting to adapt as close to the source material as possible. When he suggested that he would film a large part of Sandman like a Jan Švankmajer film, he was fired. After the incident, Gaiman and Avary became friends and started work together writing an adaptation of the epic poem Beowulf.[8]

Avary and novelist Neil Gaiman's long gestating screenplay for Beowulf was finally produced by the pair in 2007 with Robert Zemeckis directing, utilizing the Performance capture technology pioneered in The Polar Express. Gaiman and Avary enjoyed the experience of working together, coming across as a happy team in Beowulf interviews.[9]

Return to Castle Wolfenstein[edit]

On August 3, 2007, id Software announced at Quakecon 2007 that a film adaptation of their game, Return to Castle Wolfenstein is in development with the writer/producer team of Silent Hill on board with Avary as director and writer and Samuel Hadida as producer.[10]

Manslaughter charge[edit]

On January 13, 2008, Avary was arrested under suspicion of manslaughter and DUI, following a car crash in Ojai, California, where a passenger, Andrea Zini, was killed. The Ventura County Sheriff's department responded to the accident after midnight Sunday morning on the 19-hundred block of East Ojai Avenue. Avary was released from jail on $50,000 bail.[11]

In December 2008, he was charged with, and pleaded not guilty to, gross vehicular manslaughter and two felony counts of causing bodily injury while intoxicated.[12] He later changed his plea to guilty on August 18, 2009.[13]

On September 29, 2009, he was sentenced to 1 year in work furlough (allowing him to go to his job during the day and then report back to the furlough facility at night) and 5 years of probation.[14] However, after making several tweets about the conditions of his stay on Twitter, Avary was sent to Ventura County Jail to serve out the remainder of his term.[15]

On July 10, 2010, after spending eight months in jail, Avary was released.[16]

Filmography[edit]

Director[edit]

Writer[edit]

Producer[edit]

Executive Producer[edit]

Actor[edit]

Cinematographer[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Roger Avary". Filmbug. 2007-11-18. Retrieved 2012-10-27. 
  2. ^ "Pulp Friction". LA Weekly. 9 October 2002. Retrieved 24 June 2008. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Comedy - College Movies at the Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-10-27. 
  4. ^ "More don't miss stories from Macworld page 1". Macworld.com. 2002-01-15. Retrieved 2012-10-27. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ Clint Morris. "Exclusive Interview : James Van Der Beek". Moviehole.net. Archived from the original on 13 October 2006. Retrieved 21 January 2007. 
  7. ^ Matt Withers (20 April 2006). "INT: Roger Avary". JoBlo.com. Retrieved 21 January 2007. 
  8. ^ Kevin Kelly. "Comic-Con: 'Beowulf' Footage Screening, Q&A, and Party!". Cinematical.com. Retrieved 2 August 2007. 
  9. ^ [2][dead link]
  10. ^ Gamespot. "Wolfenstein headed for Hollywood". http://www.gamespot.com. Retrieved 3 August 2007. 
  11. ^ "'Pulp Fiction' screenwriter Avary arrested after fatal Ojai crash". Ventura County-Star. 13 January 2008. 
  12. ^ Catherine Saillant (13 December 2008). "Screenwriter Roger Avary charged with gross vehicular manslaughter". Los Angeles Times. 
  13. ^ CBC news (21 August 2009). "Pulp Fiction writer pleads guilty over deadly car crash". CBC News. 
  14. ^ "Avary Given Work Furlough at Ojai Valley News Blog". Ovnblog.com. Retrieved 2012-10-27. 
  15. ^ "Screenwriter Roger Avary moved from work furlough program to jail after tweeting episode". Los Angeles Times. 27 November 2009. 
  16. ^ "Bigmouthery: Bigmouthery Exclusive - Oscar-Winning Writer Roger Avary Released from Jail". Bigmouthery.blogspot.com. 2010-07-15. Retrieved 2012-10-27. 

External links[edit]