Category: Spotlight On


To what do you attribute the resurgence in retro-style games?

I believe the resurgence of retro-style games is coming from the gamers who grew up playing games, and wanting to make their own. I had classics when I was little, like Commander Keen and Chrono Trigger, which I must have finished twenty times or more over the years! There’s a strong nostalgia with those games, that brings you straight back to the feelings you felt when playing those old games you loved.

The first Beta version was publicly previewed at a games showcase. How nerve-wracking is that experience & how much testing and feedback preceded the release?

Presenting a new game is always nerve inducing, but we had fantastic responses at the first public showcase. If you have confidence that your game is fun to play, that helps a great deal!

What was your model in the creation of the ‘down scrolling’ retro style?

When the idea came to me, it brought up images of a fast, free flowing and tricky game play style, and I just wanted to play that! I’m not sure that there’s any particular game that inspired it, there’s plenty of vertical climbing games and side scrollers, but not so many falling games.

I’m a huge fan of American McGee’s ‘Alice: Madness Returns’ & the story that accompanies the game play. How difficult is it to incorporate a narrative into a gaming environment?

Bringing in a strong narrative to the game was very important to me. One of the aspects that made me fall head over heels in love with games was the way you could sink into another world and experience the story unfolding. But yes, you do need to approach story telling in games in a different way to how you’d approach a short story or film.

I know many indie developers just go the easy route of using a stereotypical story or not having a story at all due to time or budget reasons, but if you think creatively, there’s always a way.

Freedom Fall has been created for multiple platforms. Which are users predominantly downloading for and have you been any shifts in this trend over time?

I’ll have to answer this one after release!

What are some of your favourite retro games and why?

What counts as ‘retro’ differs from person to person, but I grew up playing games like Jazz Jack rabbit, Final Fantasy, Cosmo’s Cosmic Adventure, Sim City and pretty much anything I could could find!

GOG, Humble Bundle, & the like offer gamers bulk games for incredibly low prices. How difficult is it to compete in this market and what do you need to consider in terms of promo work?

Right now, the indie market is doing wonders for small developers! Of course, this also means there are more and more people making games, so you do need to work hard to reach your audience. Indie groups don’t often have a large marketing budget, so you need to use every avenue you can: social media, conventions, personal blogs and websites, even supportive friends and family helping to spread the word can make a lot of difference!

Can you tell us how your idea for a reverse Rapunzel story evolved and why you elected to make the princess creepy and dark?

For Freedom Fall, the story emerged naturally from the game play style. The falling mechanic needed a set-up that suited it, so I created a prison tower that reaches the sky, then worked from there to develop a world and characters around it. I also wanted a story that would work without cut-scenes that take control away from the player, so the idea of the creepy little princess in her ridiculously tall tower, writing on the walls, just fit.

Which games are you currently playing in your spare time?

Spare time? What’s that? I do have a pile of games I’ve been dying to play after the release, but I did find the time to play Evoland the other day (that’s certainly a romp through some of the games I grew up with!) and replay Bastion, which I can also recommend a great deal!

Thanks to October Coast, we had the chance to interview american filmmaker and writer David Mickey Evans, best known as the director of the iconic “The Sandlot movies, as part of the celebration of the first film’s 20th Anniversary.

In addition, Mr Evans is also promoting his book “The King of Pacoima, which is the full, unedited story (his story) told in the film Radio Flyer, which he also wrote.

David’s other credits include The Sandlot 2, The First Season with actor Sean Astin, Ace Ventura Jr and Barely Legal.

1. David, how did you originally get involved in children’s film and what are your favourite aspects of working for that demographic?

I have very strong memories of my childhood and so I suppose that makes childhood and adolescence fertile creative ground for me.  Having said that it is not the only thing that interests me.  I write stories that interest me, I have scripts that range from a true story epic western, to a drama about a reclusive writer.  I get associated with family and kids movies because ever since I sold RADIO FLYER, every family-oriented or kid-oriented script that gets written by anyone, comes across my desk.  I love working with kid actors because I’m still 12 years-old on the inside.

2. Could you tell us about your latest book, The King of Pacoima and your experience writing it?

The King of Pacoima is actually the novel I wrote, upon which I based the script for Radio Flyer.  After the film was released, I put the manuscript away promising myself someday that I would return to it and get it published.  I think it needed to age or season or something, like a good whiskey.  When the e-book thing started to happen it seemed like a good time to publish it.  So I edited it somewhat and included photos, storyboards, old kodachrome slides and paintings I had commissioned to illustrate the book, and hopefully add a depth of authenticity to it for the reader (it’s autobiographical to a large extent).  Legacy Publishing is dying, and since the reach of publishing in the e-book formats is worldwide, you’re only limited by how either good or bad the book is, I think.  And I think the book is good.

3. You’re currently undertaking the 20th Anniversary Sandlot tour. Can you tell us how it’s going? What’s the energy been
like at screenings and how has it felt to revisit that time of your life?

We had the first screening of the tour last night at Arm and Hammer Park in Trenton, New Jersey, home of the Trenton Thunder and the staff there told me they had never seen anything like the response to the screening.  It was a double header – game first, then screen The Sandlot.  Attendance was about 5,500.  And no one left after the game, so clearly they all came to see the movie.  The line for SANDLOT posters and t-shirts started out about 400 people long and never got any shorter.  I signed probably 2,000 autographs.  I didn’t get out of there until about 11:30 PM.  So I’d say it was off the charts.  And honestly, it didn’t feel like revisiting anything in my life – because The Sandlot is ever present, it’s always with me, it never went away into the past and it never gets old.  There’s hasn’t been a single day in twenty years in which I have not received a note, a thank or 100 emails thanking me for the film.

4. You collaborate on a number of writing projects with your colleague, Paul Jaconi-Biery. What most appeals to you about co-authorship, and what’s your collaborative process like?

Paul and I have a writing partnership that most writers would probably kill for.  There isn’t a solitary molecule of ego anywhere in the room when we write together. The only thing that matters is the story and the question, “can we do better?”  In a practical sense, having a writing partner forces you past any proclivity toward writing-death, which of course is procrastination (you can’t get the work done unless you get the work done).  Creatively, having another brain that is symbiosis with yours, making for a single voice on the page, allows us to throw ideas, dialogue, jokes, anything back and forth, always trying to find the exact best way to go structurally or emotionally or dialogically.  Can either of us do it alone?  Yes.  You can’t collaborate with another writer unless you’ve got the chops to being with.  And listen, writing is fucking scary.  It’s essentially playing God.  And I’m pretty sure he gets annoyed if you’re taking credit for stuff you shouldn’t be taking credit for.  Having a partner keeps the terror quotient down to tolerable levels.

5. Fans know that you’re an avid baseball fan. What do you love about the sport, which is your favourite team, and what are some of your favourite sporting films, baseball-related or otherwise?

I bleed Dodger Blue.  Clemente is my all time baseball ball hero. I love baseball because it’s a meritocracy, like life, that can be summed up in one word, “Hope.”  I’m not a fan of sports movies in general, although Raging Bull, Rocky and Cinderella Man were beautiful pieces of work.

6. Speaking about ‘The Sandlot Kids’, can you share with us something about the process while filming that iconic film and also maybe some funny stories behind the scenes?

The whole production was like one big summer camp for the kids.  They gelled really fast as friends on and off screen.  That made the “Herding Squirrels” thing much easier.  Working with them wasn’t so much “working” or directing as it was guiding them like a big brother or a camp counselor.  They were all great mimics too, so when we would get stuck (which wasn’t very often) I could say “Try it like this…” and then line-read them and they would mirror me and we’d get it done.  The scene that probably took the longest to shoot was the “S’mores scene,” in which Ham instructs Smalls in the fine art of making a S’More.  Pat Renna was so damn funny saying “You’re killin’ me Smalls!”  That all the other guys busted up laughing every time he said it, and essentially rendered the take unusable because they were in the background.  And when kid actors get the giggles, forget it, day over.  They simply cannot stop laughing.  Eventually (after hours and hours) I had to use a take in which I told the guys “look if you can’t stop laughing, just laugh with you r mouth closed!”  The take used in the movie, if you look at Benny in the background, poor Mike Vitar is actually biting his lip to keep from ruining the take.

7. You graduated from Loyola Marymount University with degrees in film and screenwriting. How significantly did your studies affect your career and would you recommend formal study to other creative artists?

College gave me the opportunity to study lots of different things.  Sort of soak up a bunch of information I might not otherwise have been exposed to.  So for that, yeah, it’s good.  But college didn’t teach me to write, no one can teach anyone to write.  But if you want to write, you have to live a life, in other words you have to experience things, and learn things.  What you do with that stuff creatively is what makes you a writer, so tangentially yeah, it was valuable to my becoming a writer.  But it did not teach me to write.  Film production wise if I had to do it over again, I’d bypass the college thing altogether and work on as many film productions as I could and learn it all on the ground.

8. How important are blogging and social media to your career and how much interaction do you have with your fans?

Hugely important.  In the movie business everything is people.  Social media is people.  The two are now, I think, inextricably connected forever.  If you’re a writer or a director and you don’t have a FB page you’re an idiot.  I have direct contact with my fans through a public FB fan page and my Blog.  It is the doorway through which anyone, fan or producer, can contact me.

9. What’s next on your creative agenda?

A Christmas movie called MIRACLE AT PALMER HOME, in Memphis, TN this fall.  A film I wrote that takes place in Hawaii called THE HAOLE SUBSTITUE, another script Paul Jaconi-Biery and I wrote (for Peter Fonda) called HEMINGWAY’S HERO,  And the initial few movies adapted from the great Matt Christopher Sports Books for kids.

Thanks a lot for your time.

My pleasure!

Interview courtesy of our creative content partner Jorge Duran and The Spotlight Report

Todd interviewed by Bec Stafford.


1. Todd, you’re running a 2-day writing master class at the Gold Coast Film Festival. Who were your writing role models, and what would be the #1 tip you’d give an aspiring screenwriter?

Role model was without hesitation Stephen King.  Granted my influence was with his prose but also, writer’s write.  King’s ability to take everyday people and drop them into extraordinary circumstances had set him apart from all other horror writers and most  genre writers.  Plus he writes 362 days of the year.  Writer’s write.  That is the number one tip.  Stop planning.  Stop dreaming.  Write!  It’s easy to say I want to be a writer.  It’s easy to say I’m going to be a writer.  Get thee behind me, speech-maker!  Write!

2. Your first film, Jason X, was the 10th instalment in the Friday the 13th series. Were you a fan of the franchise before you got on-board? What are your favourite elements of the Friday the 13th story?

I was a fan of all horror.  I always leaned toward Halloween because I found that film was more believable and to be more disturbing.  BUT the Friday franchise had offensively in your face gore as well as fun.  Any movie that opens with Jason inside the James Bond opening wins my eternal love.  The F13 franchise could be both scary and fun.  And that has stuck with me through all my writing.

3. What is the greatest challenge about writing horror scripts and what is your favourite aspect of writing in the horror genre? Were you always a horror fan?

If you love and if you find beauty in the world then writing horror should be easy.  You simply write about what you fear losing.  As for a special challenge with horror, I think it’s the same challenge with any writing.  Your characters should be real.  They should follow their wants and desires rather than the wants and desires of the writer.  Ever watched a movie where the character does something completely out of character or simply dumb?  That act, 9 times out of 10 was to serve some needed purpose of the writer.  Not a fan of that.  And yes, I’m aware that some of the fun in horror is yelling at the screen telling the character, “Do not go out there!”  Then again, you don’t do that with JAWS or ALIEN or SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and those are horror in my book.  That said, every script could use a moron or two.  :)

4. How do you think horror audiences have evolved over time? Is it harder to shock contemporary horror fans?

I think all story is old or rehashed.  When I started it was just the main three: Michael, Jason and Freddy.  Then came SCREAM which did what I’d been told was forbidden and that was to make your characters self-aware.  100 million dollars later that rule had been tossed out the window.  A self-aware horror screenplay become commonplace.  Then came Japanese Horror with THE RING.  But even that wasn’t new.  It was an import.  That ran its course then it was torture porn.  That was pretty shocking but ran its course.  And that’s horror.  It’s cyclical.  Like life.  Fads come and go then return.  I’m still awaiting the return of bell bottoms.  Is it hard to shock?  No.  But the horror audience is smart.  Way smarter than the suits give them credit.  That’s what I like about them.

5. Which horror movies do you think have best stood the test of time and why?

Great Grandpa, Grandpa and Pa.  Great Grandpa is the classics.  Dracula, Wolfman, Mummy.  Grandpa is Exorcist, Oman and Rosemary’s Baby.  Dad is Michael, Jason and Freddy.  I really believe that most horror has those shoulders to thank.  In fact, you could easily make the argument that Freddy, Jason and Michael were simply the 80s versions of Drac, Wolfie and Mums.

6. What makes you jump, when you’re watching a horror film? As someone who understands the format so well, are you hard to scare?

I’m the easiest to scare!  I’m the BEST audience member because I go there!  I get in the mind of the characters.  My imagination tends to fill in the gaps.  I jump, cringe and cry out!  I think if nothing scares you then you likely should get out of the horror biz.

 7.  What are you working on at the moment?

I’m spread out within genres and mediums.  Just had a comic book come out.  Working on a couple of children’s books.  Pitching a TV shows based on a pilot I wrote with Patrick Lussier.  Working on a couple remakes, couple specs and the list goes on.  Hollywood can be frustrating because you have to throw a ton of mud at the wall to find something that sticks.  But writers write and as long as you embrace that then all is well.  :)

Todd is teaching a Masterclass at the Sofitel at Broadbeach, Gold Coast on Monday April 22 and Tuesday 23 2013 and is limited to 40 participants only.  During the two day session, there will be an allocated period where Farmer will hear all aspiring writers’ individual pitches and provide feedback to participants, which is invaluable to both aspiring and current writing practitioners.   

The master class fee is $444.38 (which includes GST and a $9.88 booking fee) guaranteeing that those people attending will be serious about learning the craft.

For more information please visit the festival website –


davitt-award  aurealis-award   logo-curtin-university

Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 







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