Jon D’Amore & Steve Barr relaxing at The Polo Lounge in The Beverly Hills Hotel after a star-studded table reading of their screenplay, Deadfellas.
DEADFELLAS started as a screenplay written by Steve Barr and myself.
During the promo-tours for my memoir, THE BOSS ALWAYS SITS IN THE BACK, people asked, “When’s the next book coming out and what will it be about?” When I stated it would be a novel that had nothing to do with the Mafia, the disappointment in their voices was deafening. Realizing the masses want what they want, and a good writer should supply those desires, I knew Deadfellas was a great story that would be fun to expand on, so I wrote a couple of chapters to see if turning a 90 page screenplay into a full-blown novel could work. It did…so I kept going.
I asked Steve to write the book’s Foreword, and the following is what he came back with. I hope you find it informative, helpful, and above all…amusing.
“The screenplay for Deadfellas started out as a laugh.
I first met Jon D’Amore when he was living in Los Angeles and we were members of The Writers Group of Studio City. He had recently written his excellent memoir, The Boss Always Sits In The Back, and wanted to adapt it into a screenplay, so he asked me to co-write it with him.
After a few days of working on it, two things became clear: Jon didn’t need anyone’s help in adapting his book, and we enjoyed working together. So we decided he would continue with the screenplay for The Boss alone, but we’d come up with a different idea to work on together.
What were Jon’s favourite movies? Morality tales of high stakes and broken trust among Men of Respect. You know…Mob movies.
What were my favourite movies? Morality tales of the best and worst of humanity, confronting the monsters we can all become. You know…Zombie movies.
And so we came up with a Mob/Zombie story, a morality tale of connected men forced to fight monsters outside the house…while being betrayed by mobsters inside the house. It let us play with the tropes of both genres in a fun way, and we got to resurrect some of our favourite whacked characters from the Mob movies of the last 50 years.
Developing the story was easy. Writing the screenplay was fun. Selling the screenplay was neither of those things.
The zombie genre, we were told, is dead. The genre’s DVD bonanza of the 90s is over. There hasn’t been a successful zombie project in decades…as long as you don’t count the Dawn of the Dead remake, and Zombieland, and World War Z, and the Resident Evil franchise, and Warm Bodies, and Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, and Ash Vs Evil Dead, and iZombie, and the Santa Clarita Diet.
Oh, and The Walking Dead, which is one of the most successful shows in the world, was so successful that they made a spinoff called Fear The Walking Dead. I mean, c’mon, they resurrected the idea of spinoffs!
Hollywood is known for a lot of things, but internal consistency isn’t one of them, especially since this apparently-dead genre just keeps getting up and walking around.
We really like Deadfellas, so Jon decided he’d stop waiting for a movie to happen, and instead he’d tell this tale in a different fashion…leading you to now have this book in your (presumably not-dead) hands.
It was fun to co-write the screenplay version, and I’m sure Jon had a lot of fun writing the book version. Now you should have a lot of fun reading it.”