WHEN WORDS FAIL...
A proof of concept is the go-to for winning over doubters. They are time consuming, rely almost entirely on the charity of post houses, and are fraught with dangers - many are never finished and you may need to give away a cut of the underlying rights to pay for their development - but if you have the time and persistence they can pay off handsomely.
THE CUP OF TEARS
This was my first attempt at a proof of concept, which got me my break in Hollywood when it landed in the inboxes of many of the town’s top executives and talent agents, resulting in a deal with Working Title.
I’m a massive fan of the original anime so when I was asked to develop a live action feature that Leonardo DiCaprio was producing, I didn’t hesitate. The first step was to develop a proof of concept with pre-viz wizards, The Third Floor. The project stalled after I was hired on Dracula Untold, and it didn’t feel like the right thing to do after - this is a Japanese story and needs a Japanese cast. That version of the film won’t get the financing it needs unless the likes of Netflix steps in. Until that day comes, I’ll remain just a fan.
I was asked to pitch on The Wolverine. I got down to the last 3 thanks to this proof of concept, which was a decent achievement in of itself considering I never directed a film before - to which the film’s eventual director, James Mangold, commented - "who the fuck is Gary Shore?".
DRACULA YEAR ZERO
After Universal hired me to direct Dracula Year Zero (the original title), I was given $100k to go make a proof of concept to get it past the green light committee - a group of 16 studio heads of departments who are required to be in agreement before financing a project. It took me 18 months and regrettably a handful of burned relationships to realize this trailer, though it wasn’t what eventually got us the green light - that honor belongs to Universal’s marketing department who took a survey and realized Bram Stoker's Dracula is the second most popular book behind The Bible.
And yes, that is Kit Harrington playing Vlad - the studio eventually deemed him to young for the role, which went to Luke Evans. I love Kit but I think it was the right choice.