Darabont presents at The Walking Dead panel for Comic Con in 2010.
By Roger Kisby/.
The art of letter-writing has truly been lost on most people—but Hollywood has at least one guy dedicated to keeping the art of colorful correspondence alive and kicking—perhaps literally kicking. Former Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont sued AMC a few years ago, alleging that although he was fired halfway through Season 2, he should have been paid for the season in full. Now, a series of e-mails between Darabont and the various members of the show’s crew have come out in conjunction with the lawsuit. Above all, they demonstrate that even at his most furious, this guy knows how to get his point across.
The first step in any good note is the greeting—and boy, does Darabont know how to construct a salutation. Take this e-mail to Gale Anne Hurd and others, which Darabont began, “Guys and gals.”
I am in a state of absolutely boiling rage right now.
I just kept Denise on the phone for 20 minutes making her listen to me
scream. I hope she conveys to you what the tenor of it, because you
need to grasp my fury. I have never been a screamer, but I am now. The
work being done on this episode has turned me into one.
Congratulations, you all accomplished what I thought was impossible.
You’ve turned me into a raging asshole. Thanks a lot, you fuckers.
Everybody, especially our directors, better wake the fuck up and pay
attention. Or I will start killing people and throwing bodies out the
The e-mail goes on to detail several instances in which Darabont says his script called for highly specific shots, only to have his directions disregarded. He then moved on to “a personal note.”
Fuck you all for giving me chest pains because of the staggering
fucking incompetence, blindness to the important beats, and the
beyond-arrogant lack of regard for what is written being exhibited on
set every day. I deserve better than a heart attack because people are
too stupid to read a script and understand the words. Does anybody
disagree with me? Then join the C-cam operator and go find another job
that doesn’t involve deliberately fucking up my show scene by scene.
Here’s how it’s done from now on, and I mean on ever episode, WITHOUT
The crew goes away or stands there silently without milling or
chattering about bullshit that doesn’t apply to the job at hand. The
AD needs to tell everybody to shut the fuck up and focus.
The director, Gale, Denise, David Boyd, the AD, and the actors
involved with the scene stand there and CAREFULLY READ THE SCENE OUT
LOUD WORD FOR WORD. ESPECIALLY AND INCLUDING ALL THE DESCRIPTION. Then
you go back and re-read the description AGAIN in case you missed it
the first time.
The important beats are identified and discussed in terms of how
they are to be shot. IN other words, sole creative authority is being
taken out of the director’s hands. It doesn’t matter that our actors
are doing good work if the cameras fail to capture it. Any questions
come straight to me by phone or text. If necessary, shoot the coverage
on my iphone and text it to the set. The staging follows the script to
the letter and is no longer willy-nilly horseshit with cameras just
hosing it down from whatever angle. The physical staging and
beat-by-beat action follows the script to the letter.
If the director tries to NOT SHOOT what is written, the director is
beaten to death on the spot. A trained monkey is brought in to
complete the job.
Thought, care, and specificity are the ONLY approach from now on.
The sign-off on that e-mail? “Thank you, Frank.”
It seems Darabont was under an immense amount of pressure and stress—and it also seems as though he handled it by lashing out at quite a few people.
In another e-mail, he complained about writers Chic Egles and Jack LoGuidice—saying that if he could, he would have “hunted them down and fucking killed them with a brick, then gone and burned down their homes.”
“Please let’s stop invoking ‘the writers room,’” Darabont wrote. “There IS no writers room, which you know as well as I do. I am the writers room. The fucking lazy assholes who were supposedly going to be my showrunners threw that responsibility on me after wasting five months of my time.”
Darabont also complained extensively about director Gwyneth Horder-Payton, whom he speculated had suffered a stroke based on footage that was, evidently, not up to par with what he had expected. “I promise I’m not being a hyperbolic wiseass,” Darabont wrote in an email, adding later, “I honestly think we should recommend to Gwyneth that she go get a brain scan and see if she’s had a problem.”
“She may be in real danger,” Darabont concluded. “It’s that bad.”
The complaints roll on and on. The rage isn’t totally inexplicable, either; in addition to some of the legitimate-sounding complaints Darabont describes, GQ notes that the show itself was a passion project for Darabont, who personally worked on the project for years before it even reached AMC’s doorstep.
“When AMC responded to the show’s breakout first season by slashing the budget by 25 percent for Season 2, Darabont made the numbers work by setting the season at Hershel Greene’s farm—a creatively disastrous choice, but a financially savvy one,” GQ’s Scott Meslow writes. “And once that had been decided, Darabont personally managed to convince a religious family who objected to the content of The Walking Dead to let him film on their farm anyway.”
Darabont’s suit is all about compensation: as Variety explains, “Darabont’s suit maintains that AMC has breached its contract that called for him to receive 15 percent of the profits (or modified adjusted gross receipts) from the show. AMC counters that his contract called for his profit participation stake to rise to 15 percent only if he completed all of season two as showrunner and executive producer. AMC’s filing maintains that Darabont has been paid 10 percent to 11.875 percent of the profits depending on the level of his contribution to various episodes.”
In an affidavit responding to the AMC filing that included these emails, Darabont wrote, “Each of these emails was sent because a ‘professional’ showed up whose laziness, indifference, or incompetence threatened to sink the ship of production and added unfair and unnecessary burden to their colleagues in the cast and crew. My tone was the result of the stress and magnitude of this extraordinary crisis. The language and hyperbole of my emails were harsh, but so were the circumstances. As for the enormous problems they describe, I stand by these emails to the last detail.”
Vanity Fair has reached out to Frank Darabont’s agents, and will update this post accordingly.
All Credit Goes To This Website: Source link