BAD SUMMER, written and illustrated by Ed Laroche(ALMIGHTY, WAVEFORM) is being published by imprint, RADCO. It has been optioned as a feature film by LOGAN PICTURES, to be directed by Paul Minor. BAD SUMMER is an environmental horror story with a noire feel to it. It even premiered as a short run at last years New York Comic Con. I was given the privilege of reading it and then talking with Laroche, Minor, and producer Nick Moceri.
Lindsey Bass: What was the inspiration for Bad Summer?
Ed Laroche: Living in Los Angeles on the tale end of a hot couple months makes one wonder how much heat could you possibly take. Bad Summer is an attempt to explore that idea but with a little bit of Neo Noir LA thrown in the mix.
LB: One of the things I noticed when reading is the disconnect between neighbors. I live in a town where people know their neighbors and genuinely take an interest in each other. I get the feeling from this book that in an urban neighborhood the interactions are somewhat superficial. How important was this in setting up the story?
EL: It’s true that it can be superficial, but at the same time, I believe you can have substantial experiences with interesting people. The thing that makes it different and a bit harder is how transitory LA can be. People come and go, so it’s difficult to maintain a sense of community.
LB: What do you hope people take away from reading this story, as well as seeing the movie once released?
EL: I’m hoping that people will relate to it, and feel a kind of existential unease that comes from contemplating the idea of a slow heat death, and how quickly society can break down.
LB: The art in Bad Summer has a very storyboard feel, was this always meant to be a comic turned movie?
EL: Yes. All my work is set up this way. I find it easier to concentrate on storytelling by keeping the page layout simple and consistent. It also makes it easier for people who don’t have a lot of experience reading comics.
LB: Since this Bad Summer has been optioned, do you have a dream cast?
EL: I didn’t have any actors in mind when I was making it, but off the top of my head I would cast Shia Lebeouf as Alain, Tessa Thompson as Shar, Jessica Chastain as Flynn, Jake Gylenhall as Brooklyn, and Brian Cox as Rada. Keep in mind that would be for the graphic novel. The script is different from the source material but it is a great take on the story.
LB: The book takes play is Los Feliz; are their plans to film on location and involve the local community is this undertaking?
Nick Moceri: We plan to shoot in Los Angeles, and we want the film to feel very much of its place, because we see the city as a crucial character in the story. NIGHTCRAWLER did this expertly, and we hope to achieve the same result.
Paul Minor: It’s hard to say exactly where, but the Hollywood Hills, Griffith Park, Silver Lake, Echo Park and Los Feliz all have an atmosphere thats crucial to the story. It is important that we infuse the film with a strong sense of place.
LB: What about Bad Summer made you say, “this is something I want to work on?”
NM: When Ben Conrad and I first heard Ed pitch the story, we immediately felt like there was a really interesting movie in there, because it was a fresh take on a disaster movie, and it’s so contained that it felt achievable. We’ve also talked about the project as REAR WINDOW set against an apocalyptic heat wave.
PM: I came on after Ed had pitched the comic to Ben and Nick, but before he had written or drawn anything. I thought the core idea was extremely compelling. We are in the middle of one of the most severe droughts on record in California. The things in this story are things that you can look out your window and see right now. I liked how small the scope was. Most movies that deal with this kind of thing are either completely post-apocalyptic or like an apocalypse theme park ride. This was the chance to focus in on a much more human and contained world, a sort of personal apocalypse.
LB: There are a lot of comic book based movies in the mainstream media right now. How does that effect the decision making process when choosing projects to take on?
NM: We are developing the script and graphic novel at the same time, which is similar to how Kick-Ass was developed, so the film is more of a complementary project than an adaptation. Once the script was done, we went back and infused it with a number of details from the comic, both from a story perspective and Ed’s great visuals.
PM: For me, a good idea is a good idea, this one just happened to be in comic book form. I do think that there are a lot of interesting, challenging and unique stories coming out of the indie comics world, but I think that unfortunately these are rarely the projects that end up getting made as films. I hope that changes. I’d like to see more “A History of Violence” and less “Spider Man” re-boots.
I have to agree with Paul Minor’s final statement. It would be great to see the world of indie comics become more prominent. Check out Bad Summer on Comixology, available early next year. I know I will be looking forward to reading more as well as seeing the film once it is released.
Thank you to Ed Laroche, Paul Minor, and Nick Moceri for answering my questions. Thank you to Jon Conrad from RADCO for helping me set this up.