EXCLUSIVE: Screenwriter Adam G. Simon isn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer as he advances with female-led revenge thriller, Raguel. Best known for penning Dito Montiel’s mind-bending pic, Man Down, and upcoming action thriller Point Blank under the Warparty/Gaumont banner, Simon will set forth to make his directing debut, effectively taking the reigns with cameras rolling later this year.
Simon has been at the center of all things much ado with the current production slate over at WarParty Films, shepherded principally in part by filmmaker Joe Carnahan. Long before this, Simon spent 1999 through 2009 taking on numerous trades, including as a Close Protection Specialist, private investigator and bouncer among other risky occupations.
The actor and screenwriter faced homelessness a few years later and managed to reboot himself working for James Cameron and Vince Pace at their 3D studio, Cameron Pace Group from late 2013 through the following year. By then, Simon began scripting Man Down, starring Shia LeBeouf in a harrowing, dystopian tale of tragedy and betrayal that sits the issue of PTSD center stage.
The film was lambasted by critics with negative reviews, and Simon was sent numerous death threats from veterans and others who felt the film beleagured the military. LeBeouf’s continued eccentric behavior on public display aside, as Simon was celebrating his perceived “break”, Hollywood placed him back outside the thirty-mile zone, which left him out of options.
Meeting director/producer Joe Carnahan (Narc, Smokin’ Aces, The Grey, Stretch, El Chicano) in 2015 on the Universal lot would be his next turning point; The two began sharing a frank, genuine camraderie with each other through 2016. That was the year Carnahan’s WarParty banner (jointly launched with actor Frank Grillo) hailed a financing/co-prod partnership with The Solution Group for a new slate of films following Grillo’s Netflix actioner, Wheelman.
“Around Wheelman’s release, Joe sent me a video.” Simon tells FCSyndicate. “I saved it. I’ve replayed it many times since. He said, you have to ride the line between art and commerce. Find a way to back something socially relevant into a piece that is commercially viable. No one wants to sell out, but you don’t want to starve either. That statement altered my tactic and mindset moving forward.”
In the course of their pursuits, Simon worked tirelessly to develop Raguel, and to find a director and studio support only to come up short. To date, it was Carnahan who compelled Simon to take the initiative with Raguel and get in the director’s chair instead.
“I saw this amazing thing happen with El Chicano.” says Simon. “Against all odds, Warparty, Carnahan and Ben Bray put this thing together. In spite of studio naysayers, financing and production obstacles. They fucking did it. It lit a fire underneath me.”
Simon further conducted his filmmaking research with frequent visits to the set of Carnahan’s newly-completed actioner, Boss Level, as well as helmer Joe Lynch’s Netflix-bound Fred Cavaye reimagining of, Point Blank, which Simon also wrote. Both films hail from WarParty and feature starring actor Frank Grillo (Beyond Skyline, Donnybrook) who also produces.
“Observation, practice, application. That’s the evolution of any artistic endeavor for me. I observed Joe and Frank on Boss Level, watched how they produced, how they worked together, how Joe directs. Then I took to Lynch on Point Blank. Studied, took notes, kept my mouth shut, planned. Now it’s time to execute.” says Simon.
The logline for Raguel tentatively elucidates the story as set in a small town that becomes ground zero for one woman’s quest of vengeance against a ruthless crime syndicate. I spoke to Simon about this project earlier this month and in the course of our conversation regarding Raguel, he spoke enthusiastically on matters that were deep and personal to him – issues such as sexual abuse and molestation. Raguel aims to implement these into its subject matter while delivering what he describes as a “Commercially viable gut punch.”
Press coverage in the past year has seen Simon make the rounds discussing all things WarParty and productions therein, including critically-acclaimed superhero action thriller, El Chicano, which arrives in theaters on May 3 from Briarcliff. Still on par is a reimagining of Gareth Evans’ hit 2011 Indonesian actioner, The Raid, which Evans exec produces with Grillo producing and Carnahan directing from a script by Simon and Carnahan.
“Our take on The Raid is a simple, human story told in an epic setting.” Simon adds. “It’s gonna blast people back in their seats and melt faces off.”
Carnahan’s Boss Level, which joins Grillo with Naomi Watts, Mel Gibson, Annabelle Wallis, Will Sasso, Michelle Yeoh and Selina Lo, opens August 16 from Entertainment Studios. Further production details on Raguel remain pending as Simon casts and crews up, so take to our home page and watch that space in the coming months.