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PopCultHQ Interview: ‘MAN DOWN’ Screenwriter – Adam G. Simon

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Adam G. Simon, screenwriter for the upcoming film Man Down,  is a good friend of PopCultHQ. Our late founder, Manny Popoca, had the opportunity to meet and interview Adam in 2015 before his prior film’s debut (Synapse) and when Man Down hadn’t yet been opted for a film. When Manny passed this summer, it was then I first made contact with Adam. Upon hearing his death, he did something remarkable. He immediately stepped up and said, “I want to help.” It was because of Adam that a fundraiser was established to help our founder’s wife and children as they process, understand, and deal with this sudden tragedy.
 This wasn’t just a kind gesture to help out a family dealing with the loss. This was a gracious calling from a sympathetic man whose life had been impacted simply by Manny spending some time with him at a convention.
It was a sign of gratitude, of humility, and one of character.
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(l.-r.) PopCultHQ's founder Manny Popoca and Adam G. Simon (2015)
(l.-r.) PopCultHQ’s founder Manny Popoca and Adam G. Simon (2015)

About a week after Manny’s death, we published an article where we gave people a chance to say some words on how Manny impacted their lives. People from the comic book community, film, conventions and more took time out to remember PopCultHQ’s founder. The following is what Adam had to say upon hearing of his passing,

“I remember rubbing nickels together and hustling for anyone to listen to me. Manny Popoca was the first to do so. He gave me an outlet to speak about my projects when no one gave a shit. Kind and gracious, he was the first to show up at the booth and the last to leave. Genuinely interested in all things creative. We spoke last week about the future. His writing, all the things he wanted to accomplish, stories he wanted to tell, places he wanted to see. I’m glad I got to thank him for his generosity and energy. My heart goes out to his family.”
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With the upcoming release of Man Down, I reached out to Adam to see if he’d be up for an interview from us. With almost lightning response time and no hesitation, I received, “Done. Let’s do this.” So here is a look at actor/writer/producer/all-around awesome guy Adam G. Simon and his story coming to life on the big screen in under two weeks!

man-down-posterMan Down

Directed by: Dito Montiel

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Kate MaraGary Oldman, and Jai Courtney

Release Date: December 2, 2016

Synopsis of MAN DOWN:

When U.S. Marine Gabriel Drummer (Shia LaBeouf) returns home from his tour in Afghanistan, he finds that the place he once called home is no better than the battlefields he fought on overseas. Accompanied by his best friend Devin Roberts (Jai Courtney), a hardnosed marine whose natural instinct is to shoot first and ask questions later, he searches desperately for the whereabouts of his estranged son, Jonathan (Charlie Shotwell) and wife, Natalie (Kate Mara). In their search, the two intercept Charles (Clifton Collins Jr.), a man carrying vital information about the whereabouts of Gabriel’s family. As we revisit the past, we are guided in unraveling the puzzle of Gabriel’s experience and what will eventually lead us to finding his family. The psychological suspense thriller MAN DOWN also stars Gary Oldman. #mandown


PopCultHQ’s Interview:
Adam G. Simon

Adam Simon in Synapse (2015)
Adam Simon in Synapse (2015)

PopCultHQ: Can you walk us through the process of taking your completed script and getting it to the point it gets picked up for a film? How long did you pitch it before an offer? Did you experience any frustrations or self-doubt when it wasn’t opted?

 

Adam Simon: It didn’t really go the traditional pitch, option route. I had shopped the concept around for a while with little to no interest. I met with quite a few producers over the period of a year who had some interest. A producer, Dawn Krantz, optioned the script, and set up a meeting with Steve McEveety, John Shepherd and Patrick Hibler at Mpower Pictures.

Quickly I realized the story had found its home. They spoke excitedly of their passion for the subject matter, and told me that MAN DOWN would get the treatment it deserved. Endless discussions, meetings and rewrites followed. I worked odd jobs to get by, and stayed with friends while Mpower sought out actors and directors for the project. At times the process felt like a rollercoaster, but we were all in agreement that it would take a special group of artists – talented, driven, crazy artists – to jump on this project.
You always doubt. I never put all eggs in one basket you know? The whole process to making a movie is frustrating, self doubt is always there but you have to just push forward. Persistence wins every time…unless you die in the process. 🙂
(l.-r.) Adam, Shia LaBeouf, Kate Mara, and director Dito Montiel
(l.-r.) Adam, Shia LaBeouf, Kate Mara, and director Dito Montiel

 

PopCultHQ: Man Down is finally getting its release in the U.S. on December 2nd. There are some great names in the industry taking attached to the project (Shia LaBeouf, Kate Mara, Gary Oldman, Jai Courtney). How involved are you, or have you been, with the cast/crew, filming, or production?

AS: Very limited. I met with some of the cast. Dito and I had long conversations but I was a resource. Everyone works differently, I am on a project now that I am heavily involved in. Meetings with the director, the cast, hammering out some of the intricacies of the characters in a really intimate way. You have to be flexible, there is no set way, or set position of a writer in the theatrical space, that is more seen in television. In film, any number of people can determine the depth of your involvement. It all depends.
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PopCultHQ: How has the reception been ahead of its release? I guess it’d be nice to hear from someone firsthand hearing rants and raves rather than what I may be able to find online (and its validity).
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AS: The people love it and that is what I care about. We have screened the film for veterans and veterans organizations. It’s affecting people in a very personal kind of way. I know what you are talking about though. Shia spoke about it at a screening we did last week. We were at the Venice Italy Film Festival, we screened the film and received a ten minute standing ovation. People were touched. We got back to the hotel and two articles were written just tearing the film apart. At closer inspection the critics were out on a personal vendetta you know, like against Shia. I took it personally. That’s my heart up there. That’s Dito’s, Shia’s, Jai’s, Kate’s, Gary’s, Clifton’s, Charlie’s, Tory’s, everyone’s heart.
 
(l.-r.) Kate Mara, Shia LaBeouf
(l.-r.) Kate Mara, Shia LaBeouf

Look, people will like it, people will hate it, but we are talking about something that no one is talking about in a way that no one is talking about it. Veterans have responded well to it, people have loved it. Critics? We’ll see. Let me just say though, I respect the critics who have actually worked in the industry, but many of them are like wine tasters you know? Never worked a day in the vineyard, never crushed grapes, never worked the field. I care about the people. I care about the story, what is being transmitted. I care about connection and being understood.

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PopCultHQ: I see you have a couple of writing credits for some upcoming projects. “The Pawn,” of which you’re listed as creative executive producer as well, to be directed by Clifton Collins, Jr., and “No Quarter” with Greg Francis at the helm. What can you tell us about each of these upcoming projects?
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adam-bird-flip
AS: Nothing. HAHA. Pawn is going through some revisions as well as some story rights hurdles but it’s getting there. Working on a ton of projects. No Quarter has been a passion project of mine for a while. I am a survivor of abuse. I was abused as a kid and wanted to tell that story in a compelling way. In a way that would have given me some clarity had I watched it as a kid. It’s been a hard process pitching it. Everyone wants pre packaged hot dogs right now in the feature space. Trilogies, properties, super heroes, spandex. Not a lot of people willing to cut checks to storytellers that are trying to hold a mirror up. So it took a while but I found them. Greg is just a kindred soul. He gets me. I get him.
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PopCultHQ: Which actor and/or director would you love the opportunity to either work with or write for?
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AS: You know I have it right now. I can not wait to talk about who we got on board. There really isn’t any one person I am singling out. I am pitching some ideas in television now. I want to have one foot in there but always one foot in the feature space. I have some incredible projects I am kicking around town so we will see.
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PopCultHQ: Anything you would like to add, include, or let people know?
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AS: Manny was a dear friend and a big supporter of mine. I am really grateful to you and your writers for everything you did to help out his family and continue his legacy. I miss the Con and I miss him.
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PopCultHQ, and I personally, would like to thank Adam not only for taking the time for this interview but for everything he has done for us and the Popoca family. God bless you Adam, and here’s to great success with Man Down!
Jason Bennett
Jason Bennett is PopCultHQ's senior editor, a contributing writer, and comic book reviewer/reporter. He is a big lover of coffee, cats, cooking and comics (plus all things Green Lantern). He is a strong supporter of indie comics, creators, and publishers and Chris Hardwick is his spirit animal (we don't know how to respond to that). Follow Jason on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @TahoeJBennett
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