3rd Coast Books’ False Awakening Secures Movie Deal
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Posted by: Christopher Locke
|3rd Coast Books’ Ron Mumford (top middle) explains how his independent publishing company secured a movie deal with Montalvo Media/360 Studios for False Awakening by author Arianna Fox (top left).
Landing a movie deal for a novel is a highly-coveted achievement for both publishers and authors, so when IBPA member 3rd Coast Books shared with IBPA that they had secured a
movie deal for their book, False Awakening by Arianna Fox, IBPA thought a Member Spotlight article would be a great way to not only celebrate 3rd Coast Books’ accomplishment but to also give insight to other publishers and authors about how a film
deal can happen. IBPA spoke to 3rd Coast Books, USA Publisher/Author Ron Mumford for all the details!
IBPA: Congrats on landing a movie deal with Montalvo Media/360 Studios for False Awakening. How did this achievement come to be?
Ron Mumford (RM): Getting a movie deal signed can be a very challenging experience and drawn-out process for an author and publisher.
About three years ago, our partner team made a decision to redirect our operating philosophy and focus. Really it was all based on what, upon reflection, was a simple observation, Books sell movies and movies sell books. The real question
was, “How do we get our books turned into movies?”
We spent the next few months developing a plan of work that would take nearly two years to complete. The key was that we had to invest serious time to identify those individuals within the movie and TV industries to connect with. We had to identify who
they were, what they did, how to contact them, and what sorts of projects they liked to focus on. This takes a lot of time to collect and tabulate. Lots of phone calls need to be made and a fair amount of rejection absorbed. Effectively, 3rd Coast
Books has become our own film/movie agents. This is an added value to prospective authors who might otherwise spend considerable time and money working with film agents if they can find one willing to work the book.
All this groundwork made securing the movie deal for Arianna possible. We had identified several potential producers who were looking for material like False Awakening and it happened that one, Keith Barrows, was ready and in a position to commit
to the project.
IBPA: When you originally obtained the book, did you see a movie version as a potential for the book?
RM: Absolutely! The potential for adaptation was clear from the first time we reviewed Arianna’s manuscript submission. The identification of movie/TV potential is a crucial part of our review process. That’s not to say that we will not
publish a book that lacks clear potential in these areas; we will offer to publish if the manuscript is of sufficiently high quality. However, our preference is for books with compelling adaptation potential.
What does that mean? We could say we look for strong or interesting characters. We could say we look for a compelling storyline. We could say we look for something that flows, has the pace, and feels like a movie. In a sense, you know it when you see
it. It depends on how our reviewers visualize the story and the characters on that first read-through. It then comes down to, “Do we know someone who is looking for a project like this?” Right now teen and young adult action/sci-fi movies are in demand.
IBPA: What is the story behind obtaining False Awakening as a novel, which was written by Arianna Fox who is 13 years old?
RM: Initially, we were contacted by Arianna’s publicist who was looking for a publisher to publish an update of False Awakening. By the way, the original version of the book was self-published in 2018 when Arianna was just 12. Basically,
the book needed a little editing work to clarify some minor conflicts and to be relaunched. I know that our Associate Publisher Ian Gorman enjoyed working with Arianna on these edits and was impressed by her maturity. Arianna is no ordinary 13-year-old.
She has the abilities of someone two to three times her age. It has been an exciting experience for all involved; she has a very promising future in store.
IBPA: Not only did Arianna write the novel, but she’s also working on the screenplay alongside screenwriter Jeff Gress. How did that become part of the movie deal as well?
RM: As part of our process for securing the movie deal, we believe it is important that the author and the producer have a clear understanding of each other’s expectations. Expectation management is a major part of our role as the publisher
in terms of finances, timelines, levels of creative input, the availability of the author to be on-site during filming, etc. We arrange and facilitate the communications between the author and producer to identify and agree on those expectations.
We also strive to keep all parties focused on their agreed contributions once an agreement is reached.
Our experience has been that each of these relationships will be different depending on the nature of the project and the preferences of the parties involved. This can range from the producer not wanting the author to have any further input in the adaptation
process, through those that want the author to act as an on-call consultant, to those that welcome a higher level of author involvement.
In Arianna’s case, we facilitated an introductory call involving Arianna along with her parents, Executive Producer Keith Barrows, Screenwriter Jeff Gress, 3rd Coast Associate Producer Ian Gorman, who also edited False Awakening, and me. Everyone
was so impressed with how maturely Arianna presented herself on the video call that when she asked if she could be involved in the screenwriting process both Keith and Jeff thought it an excellent idea. After all, who knows the characters and storyline
better than the author? This stage in the adaptation process is running smoothly.
IBPA: A major issue facing independent publishers right now is the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses. Now that we are more than half a year into this crisis (with no clear end in sight), can you share advice for other independent
publishers about how they can weather the impact of the health crisis on their businesses?
RM: Like many independent publishers, we are fortunate to have a very low corporate overhead that we have been able to manage and fund from royalty revenues and new author contracts. We have no debts to repay, so we don’t have any financial
risk. Book sales have seen some disruption due to the inability of authors to conduct book signings and other physical marketing activities. We have also noticed an increase in online marketing costs and a reduced performance of the ads placed. This
is probably a result of so many businesses shifting their sales efforts and bidding up-pricing.
In general and worldwide, film production has understandably been brought to a near standstill by the COVID-19 situation. However, the various restrictions have so far not significantly impacted the development of False Awakening as it is in
the screenwriting phase where everyone is working in physically remote locations. We have secured a priority commitment from the Executive Producer of 360 Studios, Keith Barrows, to move forward into production given Arianna’s age and the current
popularity of Young Adult Science Fiction content, so we expect to be filming within a few months of the crisis easing and the film industry getting back on its feet.
IBPA: Also, how are you and your business faring during this health crisis?
RM: 3rd Coast is still doing all the things it normally would: reviewing submissions; developing our marketing capabilities; migrating and revamping our website; editing and preparing books for publication; reaching out to film and TV
producers; and working with publicists. So in that sense, the COVID-19 situation has not had a negative impact on our internal operations and may possibly have a positive long-term impact for us. For example, we have brought onboard some individuals
who would normally be too busy to assist us with some targeted projects. As a result, we expect to emerge in a stronger condition than before the crisis.
IBPA: How has it been beneficial to you to be a member of the Independent Book Publishers Association?
RM: Our IBPA membership is something we truly value. Publishing is such a dynamic and challenging business and we utilize the information available in IBPA publications and member resources quite heavily. Overall the level of support
we receive is enormous. There is nothing worse than being left hanging waiting on an answer and thankfully any specific requests or questions we have asked of IBPA staff are responded to quickly, providing sufficient information for us to make a decision
and move forward.
IBPA: Do you have any new books coming out soon?
RM: We have a couple of books in development currently and are in the process of signing up some further authors. Additionally, we are about to start work on several manuscripts in support of movies that are in various stages of development.
Our relationships with producers are about to become bidirectional—we send them books that are suitable for adaptation into movies and they will send us manuscripts from their existing movie project to be published as books.
The next book we intend to release is an updated version of Mystery in the Bowels of the Earth by Israeli author Yossi Soika. Yossi is currently writing the third and final book in his trilogy.
The book we released before False Awakening was Putin’s Useful Idiot by Kenyon Kane. This ‘based on true events’ book is going to make an epic cold-war thriller about the U.S. State Department buying influence within the KGB during the
Reagan era. Putin’s Useful Idiot was a finalist in the International Book Awards.
IBPA: Thank you, Ron, for sharing your story with the IBPA community!
Click here to learn more about 3rd Coast Books.
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