WIZARD WORLD: Interview with SYNAPSE Writer Adam Simon

EF Here at Wizard World Richmond, Virginia, and I've had a wonderful chance to sit with an amazing filmmaker working his way through the insane world of Hollywood to get his movies made. Hit the jump for our wild conversation.


Adam Simon is an up-and-coming filmmaker out of Los Angeles, CA. His story is an amazing one of blood, sweat, tears, cement slabs and the American dream. Adam has been writing and putting together films for years, only recently getting connected with the right people who have catapulted his indie films into the forefront. Adam is also partnered with the awesome Rob Prior who is an amazing artist in the comic and filmmaking industry.

Both have put together a few films, one of which is going to be in limited release here in Richmond in November at another event.

His first Indie film project is Synapse; Joshua Alba (Alpha Dog), Sofina Brown (CSI) and Henry Simmons (NYPD Blue). Synapse is a gritty cop drama in a science fiction setting following a DEA agent hunting down a memory dealer that has a secret in his mind that threatens to unravel society. We spoke at length about this film, another of his scripts that was recently picked up for production and his deep love of the Punisher comics.

CBM Manny: So how did you get this film made? What did you have to overcome to get it done

AS: While I was filming this (Synapse), a script I put together five years ago […] while I was living on the streets, kicked out of my pad for a few weeks. Sleeping on a cement slab near the promenade, in Santa Monica, near the acting school I was going to. […] This script (Man Down) got picked up by Empower Pictures and goes into production October 20th.

CBM Manny: That’s awesome, who are the principals in Man Down?

AS: Man Down has Gary Oldman, Shia Lebeouf, Kate Mara and two others I can’t announce yet but this cast is tremendous and a force to be reckoned with.

CBM Manny: Can you tell me a little about this script?

AS: Absolutely, it’s about an Afghan war-veteran and his friend who are traveling across the country in search for his wife and kid, in a post-apocalyptic world. Nothing is what it seems, it’s a psychological thriller.

CBM Manny: Is this somewhat in a dystopian future or more of a wasteland?

AS [chuckles]: A little bit, yeah! I keep saying something like this, because this is how my twisted brain works…I always say that if Hurt Locker and Shutter Island had a baby, it would be Man Down [both chuckle]. It’s just like Synapse in a sense if Joe Carnahan’s Narc and Blade Runner had a baby, it’d be Synapse.

CBM Manny: So Man Down is going to start production and Synapse is going to be showing soon, how did you start production? Was there a short, a pitch?

AS: We bled for that brother […] We Bled for that thing. You know, there was a different director attached originally. You know, projects take a different direction at one point or another. We shot a concept video, we shot a pitch trailer. We shot three scenes from the movie, we storyboarded the entire film and shot an animatic of this storyboard.

CBM Manny: Like a Proof of Concept?

AS: Yeah, we basically did that. We were really trying to kick down the door but we kept getting the same feedback. First time director, first time writer. First time director, first time writer…So we gave Empower the ability to go after another director and try and build the funds to get it done.

While this was happening we went out and independently shot another project on our own. Throwing together whatever money we could, we had cops chasing us at one time because we had no permits where we were filming [laughs].


CBM Manny: So you guys were guerrilla filming…that’s awesome!

AS: Yeah, man guerrilla filming tactics. It was brutal [laugh]

CBM Manny: I think CBM’ers will love that sort of scenario and dedication.

AS: I think what people will love about Synapse is that everything is authentic. When you see me taking a hit, I’m really taking a hit! We couldn’t afford crash mats or lay down mattresses. We were runnin’ and gunnin’ and I tried to get the scenes choreographed so I’d take the big hits. By the end of the film I had broken and cracked various bones. Stitches in my leg, dislocated my shoulder, broke two of my fingers, I meant what I said, we’ve bled for our films.

CBM Manny: Where did you shoot Synapse?

AS: Los Angeles Sinner Studios, in fact the Cinderella story of this film is not just that we shot it with no money but the owners of the studio. Where Mad Men and the Mission Impossible movies are filmed. They saw what we were doing and had faith in the project when saw some of the footage, they came on as Executive Producers. They didn’t put any money into the project, but they allowed us to use their sets, locations and even took care of permits for us…

CBM Manny: So in essence they produced using their own existing resources and let you use them freely?

AS: Exactly! Which for us, upped the production value and it really helped the production out tremendously. […] the actors were already invested for months me and the actor playing my partner, Charley Boon, we’ve lived together and work on everything together, it was gnarly.

CBM Manny: So based on the direction you’re going with this story and everything I’ve seen so far before getting to meet you…now noticing a Punisher skull on your shirt, are there any comic characters and stories influencing your storytelling?

AS: Punisher! Yes! Absolutely, the Punisher. Frank Castle. I just got through the Anthology. […] Castle went through so much and lost everything. The character I play, lost everything as well and is trying to put his life back together (number one put his life back together) and is dealing with the psychological fallout. He is first on the scene finding his family after they’ve been gunned down.

CBM Manny: So you’ve taken the angst and the reckoning, the retribution Punisher deals out in his stories and taken inspiration from it for Synapse?

AS: Look man Ken and I, we’d strangle a bag of puppies to get the Punisher series as a project to write!
CBM Manny: I’m using that ‘Strangle a Bag of Puppies’ all to write Punisher!

Rob Prior [Interjecting]: Yes Strangle a Bag of Puppies...Adam has said much worse! So that’s pretty mild. [laughing].

CBM Manny: So puppy strangling will be the name of the game this weekend to get Marvel scripts!

AS: I actually wrote a treatment for the Punisher, it’s dope as hell! [laughs] Punisher is my thing, Daredevil is my second.

CBM Manny: What did you think of the Warzone?

AS: I love the opening, but it fell off after that. Thomas Jane was the embodiment of the Punisher. But he wasn’t the Punisher. That movie should have been called The Punished. [chuckles] […] The hitmen were coming to him! Actually the closest movie I’ve seen to Punisher is Denzel Washington in Man on Fire. The C4 shoved up that guys ass…as he told him, this is what is going to happen to you! That’s the a Punisher!

CBM Manny: I’ve always said and written that if they combined the insanity in Lundgren, the emotional content of Jane and the Terminator version in Stevenson they’d have a great Punisher film. What do you think?

AS: Right! [eyes light up] You got it, you got it! Frank Castle is somewhere between John Creasy and Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon. You know, it needs to be done. Because of the universe they’ve created (MCU), Frank Castle could have stepped into something Winter Soldier or a future Avengers film. Winter Soldier is a damn near perfect film. He might not have fit in the first Avengers film. But in the future films its possible.

I’m excited man, if someone in Marvel sees this. Hit me up! I’d love to write some Punisher or to play Frank Castle!!! [looks around and chuckles]. Dude you and me! You’re a filmmaker too, we’ll collaborate on the Punisher man! Let’s do it! [laughs]. We can do it like Micro! Throw in my man here as Micro!

CBM Manny: Oh God! [laughs] I appreciate that I appreciate that.  [Still chuckling]

AS: Let’s do it man, Micro yeah!

CBM Manny: So Synapse, Man Down, you wrote them, you’ve injected comic inspired concepts that you grew up on and love. Are you directing them as well, I know you’re in Synapse are you also in Man Down?

AS: I’m playing one of the main characters in Synapse, Man Down I’m not acting in that film. I’m not trying to get the reputation that if I write it I have to be in it. I’m not trying to M. Night Shyamalan this thing [chuckles]. […] If there is something I feel passionately about something I go for it, but Man Down I felt someone with other than me needed to play that lead and that was Shia Lebeouf. People keep asking me [uses a condescending dorky/geeky voice] “what do you think about…nana nana nana” [frick] those questions about Shia Lebeouf. Shia is a tremendous [frick]ing actor!

CBM Manny: He was amazing in Nymphomaniac, I saw too much of him, but he was amazing

AS: Holy Cow, he’s so amazing, he’s so dedicated and disciplined, brilliant method actor. I agree with him. The character he plays, it’s totally him, only he could play that character. Gary Oldman was amazing, Kate Mara as well.

CBM Manny: Gary Oldman, that’s amazing too to have him on your film.

AS: Yeah, I idolized that guy as a kid. I cried, look, I’m a giant piece of man-meat, but I totally cried when I heard he was involved. He’s amazing!

AS: Synapse, totally check it out on Youtube or at the website, www.Synapsethefilm.com; Man Down will have more updates on that soon, thankfully due to Dawn Krantz, without her we wouldn't have been able to have those updates. Rob and I are now working on a horror film, but it’s a Horror film in the same vein as say The Sixth Sense is a horror film, if that makes sense. That film is titled Whisper, you’ll be hearing about that one very soon. I didn’t write that one but I’m in it and was blown away by the script.

I have a few other projects I can’t reveal yet, one of which is coming up with Lou Ferrigno and another series that I still can’t reveal.

CBM Manny: From living on the street to getting the attention your films needed and climbing out of poverty is a great story Adam!

AS: Yeah man! Thanks, it’s been a ride – Dude, we have to totally collaborate on something!

CBM Manny: Absolutely! Come down to Miami we'll tear it up! [both laugh]

Synapse Trailer

While our conversations continued for awhile longer and covered a variety of random topics with Rob Prior working on his art at their booth. I have to say Adam Simon is a force to be reckoned with as an Indie filmmaker and as a growing writer in the indie world. Hopefully (one day) in the Comic book industry as well. Be sure to keep an eye out for this amazingly talented writer and ‘guerrilla’ filmmaker! I hope to one day read a Punisher issue that he's penned. 

For now I run off to my next interview, which will be with Rob Prior himself. Later today I have many others. From Stronghold Artist Kevin Roberts, to writing up the interview on Harold Sipes and Jason David Frank. Just now as I was finishing putting this together Michael Rooker, Yondu, ran upto me and yelled out (quite loudly) "That's the biggest [frick]ing laptop i've ever seen!" --- Live in a Comic-Con is not without its rewards for this reporter...

See you later CBM, stay classy and as always hit that giant red thumb...you know what happens to my pants when you do!

Source for Man Down: Variety
By @EmanuelFCamacho


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