“Coffee and donuts” says screenwriter Todd (JASON X) Farmer when asked about his recollections of writing THE MESSENGERS, produced by the Ghost House Pictures team of Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert, directed by the Asian Pang Brothers (THE EYE) and set for February 2 release by Screen Gems. “I was the original writer,” Farmer says. “Revolution Studios was looking for THE SHINING on a farm. So a couple of dozen writers went in to pitch their takes, and they liked mine enough to hire me. My story was psychological horror—I guess you could say it was the genre version of A BEAUTIFUL MIND. A troubled family living on a secluded farm, cornfields, crows…and a scarecrow. Originally, in fact, the script was titled SCARECROW.
“After I turned in my first draft, Patrick Lussier was hired to direct. For the second draft, the script became more supernatural. The cornfields were changed to sunflower fields—which was great because sunflowers are creepy. And then my job was done,” says Farmer, who was then succeeded by scripter Stuart (COLLATERAL) Beattie. “Patrick and I had become friends, so he slipped me a copy of Stuart’s draft,” Farmer reveals. “Stuart is a fantastic writer and he added some great moments. But I didn’t like some of the changes he was forced to make. We all have opinions, right? That’s the downside to being a screenwriter; at the end of the day we’re just hired guns, and sometimes you’re hired to shoot a man even if you don’t think he deserves it.”
Following Beattie’s effort, the script was put into turnaround by Revolution and Lussier departed the project. “It was a year before Ghost House acquired the rights,” Farmer says. “The Pangs were brought in, and if memory serves, they did a draft. At Revolution it was more of a thriller; at Ghost House it become more supernatural, which makes sense if you’ve got the Pangs on board. Then Mark Wheaton was brought in as the new writer. Wheaton and I are buddies, and I know he paid his dues on this one. He did a ton of work to make the film Ghost House wanted.” Even if Farmer was not involved with the shoot and never even personally met the Pang Brothers, he can’t wait to see what his original story looks like in the big screen after such a long development process. “It has been interesting to watch the process,” he notes. “I haven’t seen a finished cut, but the trailer looked creepy. I’m looking forward to seeing it.” Farmer is currently involved with a couple more big-ticket genre projects.