Digital Development pacts with Verve
Hollywood’s relationship with the vidgame biz has often been a chilly one, with the two realms often struggling to collaborate creatively as they butt heads over financial bragging rights.
But a thaw may be in the works, as Digital Development Management, one of the largest videogame talent agencies, has pacted with tenpercentery Verve to pair up film writers and directors with game studios to create new titles. At the same time, Verve will help set up movie or TV projects that game designers develop.
The companies have already moved forward with projects that involve “Tron: Legacy” helmer Joe Kosinski and “RED” and “Battleship” writing duo Erich Hoeber and Jon Hoeber.
With Bedlam Games (“Scratch: The Ultimate DJ”), the Hoeber brothers have already begun work on “Blood and Glory,” which they hope to pitch to studios as a film property as well.
The two pitched the idea to Verve’s agents, who took it to DDM. A potential feature project is now being developed from artwork and game designs created by Bedlam and the Hoebers’ script.
Verve partners Bryan Besser, Bill Weinstein and Adam Levine saw the deal with DDM as a way to make it easier for clients to set up projects around town at a time when studios are looking for properties that already have a following or can be sold as a multiplatform franchise through a comicbook, videogame or toy line.
The deal also gives clients another platform on which they can get their ideas launched.
Verve’s client roster also include writers Michael Arndt (“Toy Story 3”), David Elliot and Paul Lovett (“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”) and Nick Bakay (“Paul Blart: Mall Cop”) plus director David Silverman (“The Simpsons Movie”); DDM’s clients include Ninja Theory (“Enslaved”), Slightly Mad Studios (“Need for Speed Shift”) and Turtle Rock Studios (“Left 4 Dead”).
Verve’s agents had tried to set up clients with gamemakers in the past but found it a difficult biz to navigate. The DDM team offers “an invaluable view behind the curtain of a world that has not been easy for Hollywood to access effectively,” Verve’s partners said.
DDM prexy Joe Minton said the goal is to have film and TV scribes work closely with game designers at the start of a title’s development, rather than hire them for a short period to script cut scenes and dialogue when a game’s production has already begun, as is often the case currently.
“What’s exciting is that it reflects the creative process,” Minton said. “Collaborating from the start enables everyone to benefit from the same idea.”
The Hoebers said in a statement: “We create worlds. They create worlds. But we each do it differently. Historically, story has been a bit of an afterthought in videogames, but that’s changing fast. At the same time, the Bedlam team beautifully conceptualizes the look and feel of the world of our film, which is a real creative luxury at the writing stage as well as a great selling tool.”
Helping to create the detente between the two worlds: A new crop of talent in Hollywood grew up playing games, and they realize it’s just another way to express their creativity.
“What’s exciting now is you have creatives in Hollywood in positions of power making things like ‘Tron,'” Minton said. “They know and appreciate games. (Filmmakers and gamemakers have) yearned to work together, and they’re never given the chance because of the ways the business relationships are set up.”