Having lived in London for seven years, I absorbed much of the English humour I grew up on. I became obsessed with black comedy crime films, such as Lock Stock, Snatch, In Bruge and The Guard. But no movie impacted me like Sexy Beast (Ben Kingsley, Ray Winstone, Ian McShane).
The performance of Ben Kingsley as Don Logan, as if wanting to shake off the Gandhi typecasting, was astonishing. Kingsley brought to the screen a villain that left Hannibal Lecter, The Joker and Darth Vader gasping in his dust, and it earned him an Oscar nomination in 2002.
Myself and one English friend shared a deep love for the movie and wondered why no one had written/produced a fan prequel, to shed light on what shaped Don Logan into the adult incarnation of the unhealed abused child Kingsley does so well in Sexy Beast. So what started as a drunken dare between two mates, led to me going underground for six weeks and writing said feature-length prequel, titled, audaciously, “Sexier Beast”.
“The writing was the hard part,” I thought, figuring making contact with the relevant folk from the original film would be a comparative breeze. I wanted, simply, to talk with them, and see if there was any light of hope for a Film 2. That, or at the least hand it to them as tribute to their Film 1.
But after years of trying to get past the agents of writers David Scinto and Louis Mellis, director Jonathon Glazer, producer Jeremy Thomas, and even actors Ray Winstone and Ben Kingsley, I gave up.
In the next few years I moved to Austin Texas and resumed playing live music, started doing standup comedy, and tweaked another draft of Man Dog Bike.
Unexpectedly, however, I got an email from my English friend. “Have you heard, mate?” “Heard what?” “They’re making a prequel TV series for Sexy Beast!”
I was delighted, horrified, excited, fucked off and everything in-between. “Was this complete arse?” or had one of the folks I had, perhaps stupidly, forwarded my screenplay to pulled it apart and adapted it into a TV series?
I set off on yet another round of passionate submissions, wishing to talk to the original folk to see if I could, at the least, get a seat at the writer’s table. “I mean what better asset on their team than a writer who’d already lived and dreamed the Sexy Beast pre-world?”
I was made aware that Michael Caleo was executive producer for the TV series. I emailed him on IMBD, nothing. But tracked down the phone number of his agent Ari, (enter Entourage) who surprisingly took the call while driving his convertible down California's Highway One before panicking and hanging up when I told him the purpose of my call.
As a last-ditch effort I sent a message to someone on Facebook with the same name as one of the original writers, David Scinto, though said recipient was without a profile photo so the chances of it being him were slim. And again, after the dusts of motivation settled, silence followed, and soon after followed, absolutely fuck all.
Life went on, and two years later, oddly enough, after having the week before told my writer friend in Melbourne the entire Sexier Beast saga, I got an unexpected message from an unfamiliar name. “David Scinto?” I thought, “who is David Scinto? Arrrrrrrrggggghhhhhhhh!"
David had written a generous email thanking me for my contact, my tribute to his original work, and with an offer to help get me a seat at Michael Caleo’s writing table. I was blown away, and ultimately validated to at last get some recognition. David provided a direct email address to Michael and guided me through my contact with him. What a pleasure it was pressing send that day.
But once again, and fuckety-fuck fuck fuck fuck, no response from Michael. I wrote to David a few weeks later, informing him of Michael’s radio silence, to which he broke the news that I was passed on due to studios regulations and clicky unions.
So it seems this writer’s mountain is a very uphill one, but, as the joke goes, “no matter how lonely, you're only ever two folk away from a threesome.” At the very least, the labour of Sexier Beast was a fabulous writing exercise that put me on track with an original film idea that I intend to push to fruition. Writing for the screen felt like the lovely middle ground between book and music writing.