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Interviews Today's Date:

The Long Road To Absolution
Cowboys & Aliens Co-Producer Daniel Force
Talks About Bringing The Graphic Novel To The Screen
Jon Favreau's film opens Friday!

Nine years ago I sat in the offices of Platinum Studios in disbelief. Across from me, young Platinum Communications Manager Daniel Forcey smiled. "Yep. That's it."

IT was a copy of the graphic novel Cowboys & Aliens, years before its publication, handed to me by Platinum founder Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. I held it in my hands, flipping through beautifully drawn pages. "We're just waiting for the right time."

Platinum played it cagey, but this week, we'll see if they played it right, developing a great high concept as a graphic novel in order to see it come to life on film.

In the time between then and now, Dan became Vice President of Content Development at Platinum, putting him in charge of developing Cowboys & Aliens as well as Dylan Dog, which hit DVD this week. (He even did stunt work on THAT film.)

In turn, that earned him the position of co-producer on Cowboys & Aliens the film. A few months ago, he turned independent, working to discover and develop new projects.

The original graphic novel, now rare.

During his busy schedule getting ready for the world premiere of Cowboys & Aliens at Comic-Con, Dan still found the time to answer a few questions I lobbed at him. I figured it would be weeks before he could come up for air and answer; instead, the gracious Mr. Forcey responded within a day. Thus the delay is all on me!

Derek McCaw: You've been on this project for a long, long time. I think you guys showed me the graphic novel in 2002. At what point did you really accept it was happening as a film?

Daniel Forcey: I don't think it really sunk in until I was actually standing on set, watching Harrison Ford ride up at the front of a pack of stunt guys. I kind of had a "Wow, this is really happening!" moment and got a little emotional about it. There were lots of little moments before then that made it more and more real, but that is the instance were I really believed it.

Derek McCaw: What kind of conversations did Jon Favreau have with you and the rest of the producers team?

Daniel Forcey: When Mr. Favreau came on board, it really became his show, as it should.

Honestly, having worked on sets with too many cooks in the kitchen, I prefer that. Over the course of my career, I have had the honor of working with guys like Peter Weir, Clint Eastwood and Sam Raimi and one of the things they all have in common is that it's their show. Filmmaking is a collaborative process, of course, but it's really the director's vision that needs to be clear and precise and everyone else should be there to help them realize that vision.

At the beginning, we were very lucky in that the folks at Dreamworks and Kurtzman/Orci kept us involved every step of the way. They would share every draft of the script, I would read it and my notes would be submitted on behalf of Platinum and they really listened, even though they didn't have to.

The invasion begins!

When Jon came on board, it really became about him shaping the film with the writers and actors into his vision of it all, as it should be. He certainly has a lot more experience making blockbuster summer movies than I or anyone else at Platinum does.

Derek McCaw: What were some of the challenges in shepherding this to the big screen?

Daniel Forcey: How many pages do I have to answer this one? I'd be surprised if any movie ever made doesn't have a thousand answers to this questions, as it's a miracle any of them get made.

If I had to pick the biggest challenge, it was in finding a group of people who really understood what this had the possibility of becoming. In one of his recent interviews, Jon said that there are a lot of bad versions of a movie called Cowboys & Aliens and I think we had the opportunity to hear versions from all of them over the years.

Many of them had a lot more to do with Wild, Wild West than The Searchers. Some were truly horrid and just tried to be the next Pirates or ID4 or whatever else was hot at the box office that week.

It wasn't until this configuration of people came together that I personally felt like they saw the potential in the concept and, better yet, created something I don't think anyone has ever experienced before.

Ford's still got it...

What they have come up with is better than I could have ever imagined and something utterly unique in the world of cinema. I'm very proud to have had a very tiny little part in it.

Derek McCaw: If you can pick one non-spoilerish moment from the film that just filled you with fanboy glee, what is it?

Daniel Forcey: When I first saw the designs of the aliens, they looked like nothing I had ever seen before and that gave me chills. It's pretty tough to come up with something new these days, and the creature designers certainly did that.

Oh, and one other moment that can be summed up in three short words: Ford. Shoots. First.

Derek McCaw: And now you've gone independent -- what projects (or types of projects) are in your docket?

Daniel Forcey: I think it's an incredibly exciting time in media. I use that word specifically because I think print, film, television, web content and everything else under the sun is all coming together and becoming simply media.

Daniel Forcey, at the premiere.
Let's let him rest for a few days before starting the next world...

I am a huge Tolkien fan and I always say that if Tolkien lived today, The LOTR would look very different. I think he would have seen the potential that media offers up to "world creators" and would have taken complete advantage of that. Frodo would have a blog, there would be a social networking game where you can choose to be a dwarf, elf or whatever, and The Silmarillion would be a wiki instead of a slightly dense book.

And it's not about finding every way to squeeze a dollar out of IP, it's about giving people a variety of ways to find that world and experience it as they choose to. THAT is what is exciting me today and what I'm focusing on these days. I want to build living, breathing worlds that people are invested in, care about and can participate in. If a movie or TV show comes from it, great. That's just one more way for people experience the world. It's a result, not a goal.

Thanks to Daniel for taking time out of his cramped Comic-Con schedule to answer the Fanboy Planet questions!.

Derek McCaw

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