A Brief Lesson in History
A BRIEF LESSON IN HISTORY:
December 7, 1941 – Pearl Harbor was bombed…
July 21, 1969 – The first man walked on the moon…
August 16, 1977 – Elvis Prestley died…
November 9, 1989 – The Berlin Wall fell…
The following year, 1990, Vanilla Ice would release his opus of an album “TO THE EXTREME”
These dates are cold, hard facts… They are history… All one needs to do is go to any library or local search engine and you are provided with pages upon pages, of information commemorating these truths. I call them ‘truths’ as they are undisputed realities, backed up with hundreds, if not thousands of ‘proofs’ surrounding the events.
Our schools provide us textbooks to educate ourselves about the past. Higher learning offers majors, doctorates in this very subject…. HISTORY.
However, before one has a HISTORY – they have a BIRTH, a date of creation; a place where it all ‘began’.
Last week an article was forwarded to me. This article was from a very popular and, dare I say, ‘credible’ site, suggesting our beloved little opera, REPO, was inspired by a recently released book, The Repossession Mambo. The website went on to propose that a similarly titled movie, also based on the book, was nothing more than a coincidence – as our two movies were created at roughly the same time.
At first I laughed this off. Then I started seeing other sites suggesting the same thing… It wasn’t long before my facebook and twitter accounts were inundated with questions regarding our involvement in REPO MEN (aka The Repossession Mambo).
Again, I tried to ignore commenting on the whole REPO! vs. Repo Men nonsense, as in my mind there was no VS. Just the facts… But even yesterday, I was doing an interview for my comic book, when the reviewer asked if I wanted to comment on the similarities between our two projects. Since I have not read Repossession Mambo – or seen REPO MEN, I really had nothing to say.
She asked me to comment on the similarities of our posters: I did some digging and did find quite a few similarities – see below.
She asked me to comment on the similarities of our PROMOTIONAL ART on our WEB PAGES:
The reporter went so far as to dig up old promo art for our stage play. – Again here is a side by side.
And yes, she even asked if I noticed the similarities between our evil corporations and their logos….
The interviewer ended her interrogation by showing me the following…
Pronunciation: kō-ˈin(t)-sə-dən(t)s, -sə-ˌden(t)s
1 : the act or condition of coinciding : correspondence 2 : the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection;
Coincidence… Maybe the above are all just that… All Coincidences… I can write all of this off?
The breaking point however came this morning as friend, SPOOKY DAN, sent me his blog. (Click here to read the blog) After reading it, I was kind of speechless. In REPO! we have a drug called ‘Z’ a glowing pain killer used in the organ trade… In REPO MEN it’s called “Q” and it’s red… In REPO! GeneCo turns on Nathan Wallace and he is a man on the run… In REPO MEN, it’s The Union that turns on Remy… I couldn’t bare to finish reading his blog.
I will leave all the strange coincidences alone. I will not address the striking similarities of Spooky Dan’s Blog, this has happened many times, in movies… Similarities.
Before now I really haven’t felt the need to comment on our timeline… But alas, REPO too has a creation date. A life – one seeped in over a decade of history.
I want to deal in HISTORY. As that is what this blog is about… Not finger pointing… But establishing a timeline that can be referenced in future articles.
So, take a seat, sit back, and let’s dispel some rumors.
WE STARTED THIS OPERA SHIT:
REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA started in 1999 with the creation of ‘THE GALLERY’ – a two-man performance troupe. Its founding members, TERRANCE ZDUNICH and DARREN SMITH, wrote and produced ’10 Minute Opera’s’ which they went on to perform at Night Clubs and Coffee Houses around the Los Angeles area.
One of their first and most popular ’10 Minute Operas’ entitled ‘THE NECROMERCHANTS DEBT” featured a song called “THE GENETIC REPO MAN,” which became an instant hit in their rapidly growing fan base.
In one of their first public performances on Saturday, May 20, 2000 at Wednesday’s House Coffee Shop, 2409 Main St, Santa Monica, they performed “THE GENETIC REPO MAN” live. It became instantly clear that this storyline, revolving around a futuristic organ repo man, had to be expanded.
Zdunich and Smith continued to workshop this storyline for the next two years – fostering a growing cult following.
Repo! The Genetic Opera had a fan base, a web presence and music available for purchase!
In 2002, I entered the picture. I was introduced to the duo and I immediately fell in love with their libretto. I begged… I pleaded… I groveled to let them let me direct their opera.
The planets aligned, the Gods spoke, and I was the director of REPO!
We launched the full-length stage show in Hollywood at the JOHN RAITT theatre. What was supposed to be a two night engagement turned into an extended run due to the consistently sold out shows and rapidly growing word of mouth.
By the end of 2002, REPO! had a following.
Over the next two years, Terrance Zdunich and Darren Smith refined their libretto. They re-launched their show in 2004, with a ‘face lift’, a new theatre, a new director and new songs.
The fandom continued to grow – as did the ‘legacy’ of REPO!
In Summer 2005, Repo! was offered an exciting opportunity to perform off – off Broadway, under the direction of Terrance Zduinch.
Repo! The Genetic Opera opened August 4, 2005 at the WINGS theatre in NYC.
It was during this time that I was directing SAW 2. Terrance, Darren and I stayed in close communication. We would email each other consistently plotting about turning our little opera into a FILM.
My managers and agents set up meetings all around town where I went in to pitch the film version of REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA. However, even with the success of SAW 2 under my belt, nary a bite on wanting to make this ballsy rock opera.
After completing SAW 3 in 2006, Terrance and Darren flew up to Toronto – and we shot and edited a sales tool to show all of the clowns who turned REPO, or who didn’t get it WHY it was awesome, and WHY it worked not only as an indie stage play, but as a film. Shawnee Smith, Michael Rooker, J Larose, and Terrance Zdunich starred in the ten minute short film showcasing what made REPO cool, different and original.
Later that year, with the help of my managers, agents, and lawyer – we had a very private – very cool screening of the short film at the ENDEAVOR screening room with all the important players in town. Studio heads, execs, producers all showed up. 48 hours later LGF/TWISTED PICTURES stepped up and guaranteed us a green light.
The following year, we were filming REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA in Toronto.
So, what’s the point of this entire blog? Why the ramblings?
HISTORY. Repo has been around for over ten years, and well-documented at that… From our origins in the late 90’s to our amazing fans SHADOW CASTING our movie today.
We have been accessible for public consumption for years, available on ITUNES, the web, and the stage.
So before you write an article, or make claims that we are based on a book that was only published ‘this year,’ do your homework. Do your research, LEARN YOUR HISTORY.
Here is our history, my fellow students. Laid out in glorious black and white… What say you?
I am not trying to start a war here, or call shenanigans. I just want the facts to speak for themselves.
In conclusion, I wish nothing but the best for REPO MEN, or REPOSSESSION MAMBO. Miquel Sapochnick, Eric Garcia and Garrett Lerner all seem like nice guys. They like me, are just filmmakers trying to produce ‘art. As I have always said – the world is big enough for the both of us to exist in… BUT, if one is going to report the facts… They must know the ‘history’. The origins. Repo! has been around awhile… We didn’t force cult overnight as some have suggested. We nurtured it over ten LONG years. We bleed for REPO! We burned bridges for REPO! We lived and died REPO!
As REPO MEN nears their release, more light is being shined on the ‘issues’, the ‘similarities’… I, like you, am surprised by how closely our two stories seem to be. I can’t sit here and say REVOLT! But, I can do my part to shine the light on the ‘integrity’, the ‘origins’, the ‘life’ of Repo! The Genetic Opera.
*REPO MEN photos/poster property of Universal. *REPOSSESSION MAMBO cover Mass Market Paperback, Harper Collins