Queenstowner Ivan Clarke’s The Lonely Dog movie is back on track after hitting speed bumps, he says.
Clarke’s co-authored Alveridgea & The Legend of the Lonely Dog – a whimsical fantasy novel based on the cat and dog-populated port town of Alveridge – has been released worldwide in the past month.
In an exclusive interview with Mountain Scene, the Queenstown artist says the novel will help his Los Angeles-based team of movie scriptwriters.
Warner Brothers acquired the screen rights for The Lonely Dog in 2009. Warner originally chose Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman – whose credits include A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man and The Da Vinci Code – as writer/producer.
Clarke says Goldsman pulled out about a year later, after the death of his wife.
“There was a year where things were up in the air.”
Clarke says Warners commissioned a journeyman scriptwriter who visited him in Queenstown and told him what was going in the script without a proper introduction to The Lonely Dog world.
“When the script finally arrived I never got past page 14.
“It was pretty lame, had the dogs wagging their tails in time to music and cats getting canine-tolerant and holding hands.
“I suppose I was a little star-struck with Warners early on, I was pretty happy to just pass the baby and leave them to make the movie.”
Clarke says Warners fortunately agreed with his opinion.
The project is now in the hands of leading independent producer Jeff Kleeman, whose film franchises include the James Bond, Star Trek, Pink Panther and Jack Ryan series.
Kleeman says: “Ivan has created an entire universe, rich with stories and characters that can drive a film and multimedia franchise that is utterly fresh and hugely entertaining.”
Clarke says Kleeman is “dynamic, on fire with the whole thing”.
Clarke says he’s enjoying a very collaborative approach with Kleeman and his writing team.
“It’s like, ‘you can sign off every step of the way’.
“Obviously, you get to some point and it’s going to be arrogant for me to think I could be dictating where the millions are spent – I know nothing about directing or producing.”
Clarke says the film has to be “wacked-out”.
“I’m opposed to it being same-old Hollywood kids’ entertainment – predictable, cliched, like fast food.
“Alveridgea is way further out on a limb, harder to digest, with lots of bizarre and questionable scenes like hounds milking whales, giant coal-powered steam planes and lots of smoking scenes.”
Clarke feels like it’s taking forever before it reaches the screen.
“But it was recently pointed out that it took James Cameron 10 years before he got Avatar to the screen.”
Clarke also believes The Lonely Dog is far bigger than a movie.
“A movie can come and go very quickly, it can end up going on DVD and that’s it, you never hear of it again.
The Lonely Dog is more a trans-media franchise, like Pooh Bear or Alice in Wonderland, Clarke says.
So far it’s spun off into a series of limited edition paintings, figurines and hand-made books that have sold for more than $65,000.
Now Clarke’s signed on with a prominent American licensing agency, Catalyst Creative Ventures.
Initially it will produce a range of The Lonely Dog stationery, calendars, journals, greeting cards and gift books.
The licensing agency oversaw $2 billion in licensed product sales for recently-deceased American artist Thomas Kinkade.