“I was really beginning to question if I’d ever catch my proverbial big break. I drifted away from film work and started applying for police jobs.”
Chris Sparling, Buried screenwriter
“(Chris Sparling) went directly from struggling indie director to successful Hollywood scribe when the screenplay for his horror thriller Buried was picked up, cast with a major up-and-coming star, and thrown before the cameras in just six months. And now it’s receiving its U.S. première at the Sundance Film Festival.
Filmmaker Magazine Winter 2010
Until this morning I had never seen or heard the name Chris Sparling. Then I read on Scott Myers’ screenwriting blog (Go Into The Story) about a movie Sparling wrote called Buried that sold at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival for between $3 & $4 million. Sparling is from Providence, Rhode Island and has made short films and one low-budget independent feature five years ago that had little distribution.
He was looking to write a movie that could be shot quickly and cheaply when he stumbled upon the idea for Buried.
“Stealing a page from Hitchcock’s playbook, I decided on writing a story that takes place entirely in one small location. In my case, this was inside an old, wooden coffin.”
While his sudden rise is rare, the process that he took to be a screenwriter in demand is a familiar story. One of dedication and hard work.
Sparling was asked in an interview with Carson Reeves at Script Shadow, “How many scripts had you written before Buried? Which script did you realize that maybe you were getting the hang of it?” Sparling said, “Before Buried, I think I’d written about nine or ten features and two TV specs. Truth be told, it didn’t start to click for me until about my seventh feature script.”
I think to pull off writing a 90 minute story in a coffin one has to have a solid handle on the craft of screenwriting. You have to think that having a story set in a coffin would cut down on crew, cast, wardrobe, lighting, etc.. The film was directed by Rodrigo Cortes and shot in 21 days in Barcelona, Spain. With Ryan Reynolds in the lead role it couldn’t have be too low a budget film.
Renyolds plays a U.S. contract driver in Iraq who is attacked and placed in a coffin with a flashlight, a cell phone and a lighter and must find someone to pay a million dollar ransom or he’ll soon die. A primal survival story reminscent of low-budget success stories of past years; The Blair Witch Project, Open Water and Paranormal Activity.
Is there a Midwest angle? Of course. The character Renyolds plays says that he’s from Hastings, Michigan. Below is the promo for the movie that is said to being released this spring. If you do a little homework you can find a version of the script online.
Scott W. Smith
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