Please welcome Mr. Chris Sparling, the writer behind “Buried,” with a guest blog post that he wrote on the eve of the film’s limited opening tomorrow. In the below write-up, Chris takes us all on the journey that led him from what started as a small idea meant for an indie treatment to something much, much bigger. “Buried” is one of my favorite films so far this year, right alongside “Toy Story 3,” “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World” and “The Last Exorcism.” Check it out if you can this weekend. Otherwise, wait until the movie opens wide on October 8. I’ll let Chris take it from here!
With the limited release of “Buried” only days away (and the nationwide release less than three weeks away), I am incredibly proud of what this film has become. To see all the posters, trailers, and positive buzz circulating around a film I wrote is definitely the coolest thing I’ve ever been a part of. But at the same time, I also can’t help but laugh sometimes when I think of what the film could have become.
You see, “Buried” was initially written to be a film that could be shot for next to nothing. And no, I’m not talking Hollywood’s version of next to nothing, I’m talking a struggling filmmaker’s version of next to nothing. So, I was looking at hopefully making the film for about $5,000. My plan was to shoot it in about seven days –- most likely in my buddy’s apartment in LA — on digital, hire an actor from yesteryear that would at least be recognizable today (you have no idea how hard it is for me right now to not list some of the actors I had in mind), and then hope it played well at some small festivals. I always felt there was something unique about my script, but I simply thought it would never have a life bigger than that of a nifty little indie film.
Amazingly, my script ended up in the hands of some people who saw the film as a much bigger project. I’ll never forget sitting across from producer Peter Safran and him saying, “Chris, I want to make your script exactly as you wrote it (as in without any cutaways, flashbacks, etc.), I know the perfect guy to direct it, and I can get it into production in six months.” Needless to say, before he was barely able to finish that sentence, I asked him “Where do I sign?”
That perfect director turned out to be Rodrigo Cortes, an incredibly gifted auteur from Spain. I remember watching his first feature, “The Contestant,” and being blown away by his visual style. I always knew that whoever ended up directing “Buried” would need to keep the film visually interesting because, let’s face it, a guy buried in a box for 90 minutes could get really old really fast if the camera just stayed in one place. Instead, with Rodrigo the film became an effing magic trick. 360-degree dolly shots, rotating cameras, hand-held shots… the whole thing was cinematic sleight-of-hand. And mind you, this wasn’t done with a small, digital camera; this was all done with massive 35mm film cameras.
Be this all as it may, the film was still missing its primary ingredient: Paul Conroy. Now that my “little film that could” had finally made it through the producer/studio gauntlet, miraculously unscathed, the big question then became: Which actor will not only have the balls to be the only onscreen actor for an entire film, but which actor will actually have the talent to pull it off? That’s where Ryan Reynolds enters this crazy story.
I had previously seen a great indie film Ryan did called “The Nines.” In it, he plays several different characters, all offering up a wide range of emotions and truly exhibiting the wide range of his talent. Rodrigo, who was also a big fan of Ryan’s and this film, also felt that Ryan – for the reasons just mentioned, plus his extraordinary sense of timing – was the ideal person to play Paul Conroy. And I have no doubt that, after seeing the film, you’ll agree that Ryan knocks it out of the park.
In the more than 10 years that I tried to break into Hollywood with the next “Big Idea,” never would have I imagined that my break would finally come with the smallest idea possible. Like I said before, I can’t help but laugh sometimes.