About a week ago I was given the opportunity to see The Wave before it’s limited theatrical and video on demand release (January 17th, mark your calendars). I enjoyed the film so much that I just had to request an interview with the writer, Carl W. Lucas. He was kind enough to take the time to answer my emailed questions. If you’re curious about the writer of the sci-fi comedy, read on to learn more about him:
I just watched The Wave and thoroughly enjoyed it. I know this is probably too common of a question, but where did you get the idea from for this film?
So glad you enjoyed it!
The inspiration came from multiple sources. I was incredibly inspired by the surreal and trips visuals that Gille Klabin was making for his low budget music videos and I really wanted to write a script that showcased those unique talents.
Also, as an independent producer, I was also watching the career trajectory of Roger Corman and I was reaching about that same point in my career as Roger Corman was when he made his psychedelic masterpiece “The Trip” and I knew I wanted to play in that same world. But probably most influential was an experience from my past. I had a family member who passed away under very similar circumstances to the insurance claim referenced in the movie, and I spent a lot of time really angry about the choices this individual made and the sense of indifference that came from the company that was wrecking my families life.
So, instead of writing a sad film about a family struggling to keep it together in the wake of a family member dying, I decided it would be more fun to universally god smack the guy who did it, and force feed the concept of empathy in a capitalist society.
Justin Long did a great job in the role of Frank. Did you have already have a cast in mind while you were writing this?
I’ll be honest. Casting took years. I knew I wanted the film to be about how a lot of white men are kind of looking around wondering why their world doesn’t feel like a beer commercial, and how indifferently the universe looks at their woes. But the tone of the story fluctuated a lot while we kicked around different actors to portray that. Luckily, when Justin Long got the script, he perfectly encapsulated the original vibe that Gille and I wanted, and we were over the moon that our little project could attract such a wonderful talent.
According to your mini-biography on IMDB, you’ve written a screenplay about your time in the military (as an Army wife, I’d love to see this!), a screenplay called Hollering Creek, The Legend of La Llorona (another I’d love to see), Ilegales, The Wave, and more. This is quite a range of topics and genres! Do you have a favorite to write in?
I really don’t! For a long time I thought it would just be horror and comedy because I discovered early on that writing scares and writing jokes have a very similar pattern as far as set up and pay off. But my first real writing sample was Illegales which was a dark immigration drama about coyotes and migrant workers crossing the border illegally. Since then, I’ve written science fiction, a viking fantasy epic, a martial arts driven script about 19th century Chinese pirates and a television pilot about the ’62 Mets. All in all, I’ve written over 40 screen/ teleplays in the last 17 years. And I’m just now finding my footing in the industry to see a lot of them come to light.
How did you move from being in the military to working as a producer/writer? Was this always your plan?
It was hard to call it “my plan” because I couldn’t have been further away from the entertainment industry where I was growing up. But it’s that itch in the back of your brain that never goes away. I spent 10 years on the radio learning how to write to engage people with only words so when the chance opportunity to move forward came, I was ready.
Prior to The Wave was your border drama, Illegals. My editor saw the trailer and it looks like a riveting presentation, and he is curious as to what your motivation was in becoming a screenwriter at the time you were working on this project. Was this your first script?
It wasn’t. My first script was the College Program, a comedy about slackers joining the army to put off another grueling 4 years of school. I had written several scripts before Ilegales, but it was the first script I had written that was eventually produced. There are some lovely performances in the film, but overall, I wasn’t happy with the finished project. I was actually terrified because up until that point, that script had been my writing sample, and suddenly it existed as a movie that just didn’t live up to what I felt like was the potential of the story. So, I made a choice to segue into producing, so that when my next script got produced, I would at least have a chance at realizing the idea I had in my head. So, under that premise, The Wave is the first film of mine that fully represents the type of projects I want to produce under the EchoWolf banner.
Another question from my editor: Your directing debut has you switching genres for your latest script with The Old Way, a western this time. What can you tell us about this project, its status and current trajectory?
So, The Old Way is a classic western that tackles the progress of society slowly attempting to remove the violence from western life, but also the concept of living with mental illness in a world where no one recognizes mental health as a diagnosable disorder. If you have mental illness, you either figure out how to live with it, or you die, basically. So, this film is about an aging gunslinger, suffering from mental illness who takes his daughter cross country on a mission to kill the man who murdered her mother, all while teaching her how to cope with her mental illness that she has obviously inherited. I genuinely hope people like it. It’s a project currently on hold until some people decide whether or not The Wave makes enough money for me that I get to make another movie, so, fingers crossed!
Is The Old Way your latest project or are there more projects that you are currently working on?
I have a pilot I’m shopping around called Outside the Wire about a veteran returning from war struggling with PTSD. When he can’t make sense of society outside of the arena of war, he decides to wage his own. I also have another sci-fi-fi/ horror/ comedy script coming up called Prism Lake that I’m hoping to team up with a lot of the same folks from The Wave, if schedules line up. It’s a wacky multi reality/ groundhog day/ cosmic horror/ cult film set in the 70’s that really wants me to devote all of my time to because it’s just loads of fun.
To keep up with future Carl W. Lucas projects, stay tuned to Film Combat Syndicate. Oh, and if you do want to see more from him, go check out The Wave!