In a world where Twitter feeds net book deals (“Tween Hobo,” “White Girl Problems”) and a Meme-generated feline (“Grumpy Cat”) inks a movie contract, it’s no surprise that Quora, the community-powered Q&A site, is the latest idea pool to attract the attention of Hollywood.
Hatched in 2009 by former Facebook CTO Adam D’Angelo, Quora is where both the hoi polloi and high-profile users like President Obama and Ashton Kutcher gather to ask questions and get them answered. Users vote to determine the best answers, helping to curate an ever-expanding library of knowledge on over 500,000 topics.
And its where Emmy-winning producer Josh C. Kline, head of media & entertainment at Box, the Silicon Valley-based cloud content collaboration company, came across the following question: “If every state of the USA declared war against each other, which would win?”
The most popular response, a dystopian account of a second Civil War in the U.S. with shades of “World War Z” penned by retired U.S. Marine Sergeant Jon Davis, so entranced Kline, he optioned the idea—“it wasn’t free but it wasn’t much,” notes Kline of the deal— and attached himself as producer.
“You assume the uploaded answer is going to be a literal answer and so this one generated a double take,” says Kline, who also serves as producer on the sci-fi franchise “Star Blazers,” currently in development at Skydance. “And then you realize, Oh, I’m not actually reading an answer to the question—I’m reading a fictional story about how it would play out if it did happen. The story just pulled me in and the guy’s voice was so interesting that right away I could see it being a film project.”
Kline is now in the process of pitching the idea to production companies in the hopes of setting it up as a limited- run TV series in the vein of “Fargo.”
“(Davis) knows I’m going to be hustling on his behalf and he trusts me,” says Kline. “We have a really good rapport and our partnership is really about me helping to get his story turned into a piece of filmed entertainment.”
But Davis, a full-time teacher in Oklahoma, isn’t angling for a screenwriting credit should the project get made. (Davis will likely receive a consulting credit, says Kline.)
“I was just really excited that people enjoyed it,” says Davis, who has two tours of Iraq under his belt. “After Josh reached out and he was excited about the project, that made me really happy. I was just happy the idea got attention, and anything else from this point on is sort of icing on the cake.”
As far as Quora is concerned, the company has no plans to profit from any deals that spring from its site.
“Quora is a great platform for talented actors and creators to share what they know about a creative property or about the creative process,” says a spokesperson for Quora. “We’re happy when our writers are discovered in this way, but, no, we don’t participate in these arrangements and we don’t anticipate doing so in the future.”