A Farewell to Lombaxes

Posted: April 2, 2016 in Uncategorized

As we’ve gotten closer to the release of the Ratchet & Clank movie, friends and fans alike have been kind enough to reach out and tell me how excited they are. It’s an exciting time—Ratchet and Clank, two characters who have meant so much to people (yours truly included), will finally have their day in the theaters. But as some of you have noticed, I haven’t been talking much about the film on social media. I haven’t done any press or appeared on panels. When I’ve tweeted about R&C, it’s always been about the game (which I wrote with the talented Jon Paquette). The reason is that I didn’t want to dive into the behind-the-scenes stuff and risk worrying people when there is no reason to be. But I feel like a bit of a sham dancing around people wishing me congratulations for the final product, so it’s become clear I should explain:

I left the Ratchet & Clank movie over two years ago.

This won’t be a huge surprise to some, as I have mentioned it on Twitter a few times. But I’ve spent the majority of my time dancing around it for fear of what people might say. I wrote the original draft of the script, but it’s since been handed off to director Kevin Munroe and writer Gerry Swallow. If anyone deserves credit or accolades for the final product, it’s them.

So why did I leave? Well, it was a combination of things. The first and most important was schedule. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on a ton of studio projects since leaving Insomniac, and all of that takes time. At the time that Ratchet was moving into production, I had jumped into my Fox project (The Men Who Kill) while also working on a Disney project and a New Line project. I never want my output to be anything less than 100%, so I needed to make some tough decisions. My contract for Ratchet was wrapping up, and it seemed like a good time to pass off the baton.

The other reason was a simple difference of opinion. The director and I agreed on a lot of things, but there were just as many things we didn’t see eye to eye on. This happens on pretty much every project in development, so it’s very normal. No one is ever right or wrong. I didn’t create the Ratchet franchise, so I certainly have no hold or authority over its story, characters, or tone—and Kevin deserved to have his handcuffs taken off so he could create his own unique vision for the movie universe. He’s a talented director and it was a very amicable split, so I wish him and the team the best. I know that seems like a recycled line, but it’s the truth.

My fingerprints are still on the movie, and several of my jokes and plot points are still in (hence you’ll still see my name in the credits). What isn’t mine was made by people who truly love the universe. And remember—the good folks at Insomniac have been there watching and helping to guide Kevin and Rainmaker through the process.

As for me, I’m not sure if I’ll return to R&C any time soon—but never say never. I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for those characters, so it’s hard to say goodbye. For now I am focused on The Men Who Kill, Popeye, and a few other projects I am excited to tell you about. Even as a former writer for one of the greatest game franchises out there, I hope you’ll stick with me.

In the meantime, I’m excited to see the final cut of the movie.

Oscar 2016 Predictions!

Posted: February 28, 2016 in Uncategorized

With only a couple of hours to go before the show, I thought I’d take a shot at a few predictions. Let’s see how well/poorly I do tonight.:)

BEST PICTURE

*The Big Short* Funny, brilliant, terrifying, infuriating… and the performances were solid across the board. And from the guy who brought us Anchorman?!

Bridge of Spies

Brooklyn

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

Room

Spotlight

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ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Bryan Cranston, Trumbo

Matt Damon, The Martian

*Leonardo DiCaprio, The Revenant* Leo definitely deserves it. I also feel like if we give him the Oscar maybe we won’t have to hear another story about how tough this movie was to film. WINNER!!

Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs

Eddie Redmayne, The Danish Girl

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ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Cate Blanchett, Carol

*Brie Larson, Room* No disrespect to J-Law, but this is Brie’s year. WINNER!!

Jennifer Lawrence, Joy

Charlotte Rampling, 45 Years

Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn

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ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Christian Bale, The Big Short

Tom Hardy, The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo, Spotlight

Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies WINNER!!

*Sylvester Stallone, Creed* I can go on all day about Sly’s performance in this movie, but in short, he crushes this role and may or may not have made me shed actual human tears in the theatre.

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ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Jennifer Jason Leigh, The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara, Carol

*Rachel McAdams, Spotlight* I’m less certain about this one since I haven’t seen Steve Jobs or The Danish Girl, but I loved Rachel McAdams in this movie. And really every movie.

Alicia Vikander, The Danish Girl WINNER!

Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs

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ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

Anomalisa

Boy and the World

*Inside Out* Simply put, Pixar knocked it out of the park with this movie. And Bing-Bong… #Respect. WINNER!!

Shaun the Sheep Movie

When Marnie Was There

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CINEMATOGRAPHY

Carol

The Hateful Eight

*Mad Max: Fury Road* I don’t think I need to explain this one.

The Revenant WINNER!!

Sicario

COSTUME DESIGN

Carol

Cinderella

The Danish Girl

*Mad Max: Fury Road* All other nominees must bow before the genius of George Miller and his team. WINNER!!

The Revenant

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DIRECTING

The Big Short

*Mad Max: Fury Road* Chances are it won’t win (The Big Short is more Academy-friendly), but it should. 

The Revenant WINNER!!

Room

Spotlight

=============================

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE) – haven’t seen these, so I’m skipping this category.

=============================

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT SUBJECT) – haven’t seen these, so I’m skipping this category.

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FILM EDITING

The Big Short

Mad Max: Fury Road WINNER!!

*The Revenant* – Pretty sure I watched this entire movie with my jaw on the floor. Beautifully shot and masterfully edited. AND DID YOU HEAR HOW DIFFICULT IT WAS TO SHOOT?

Spotlight

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

=============================

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM – haven’t seen these, so I’m skipping this category.

=============================

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

*Mad Max: Fury Road* – I mean, c’mon. WINNER!!

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out

the Window and Disappeared

The Revenant

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SCORE)

Bridge of Spies

Carol

The Hateful Eight WINNER!!

Sicario

*Star Wars: The Force Awakens* – I have a lot of love for Sicario, but the Star Wars score basically turned me into a kid from the old Wheaties commercials.

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MUSIC (ORIGINAL SONG) – I’m skipping this one because I’ve only seen Spectre and I wasn’t a huge fan of the song.

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PRODUCTION DESIGN

Bridge of Spies

The Danish Girl

*Mad Max: Fury Road* If I could, I’d give this movie ALL the awards… WINNER!!

The Martian

The Revenant

=============================

SHORT FILM (ANIMATED) – haven’t seen these, so I’m skipping this category.

=============================

SHORT FILM (LIVE ACTION) – haven’t seen these, so I’m skipping this category.

=============================

SOUND EDITING

Mad Max: Fury Road WINNER!!

The Martian

The Revenant

*Sicario* That tunnel sequence…

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

SOUND MIXING

Bridge of Spies

Mad Max: Fury Road WINNER!!

*The Martian*

The Revenant

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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VISUAL EFFECTS

Ex Machina WINNER!!

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

The Revenant

*Star Wars: The Force Awakens* It was a close call between this and MM because both movies actually BUILT stuff.

=============================

WRITING (ADAPTED SCREENPLAY)

The Big Short WINNER!

Brooklyn

Carol

*The Martian* BRILLIANT. BRILLIANT. BRILLIANT.

Room

=============================

WRITING (ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY) 

Bridge of Spies

Ex Machina

Inside Out

*Spotlight*     WINNER!

Straight Outta Compton

Popeye

Posted: January 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

So excited to announce this!

Sony Pictures Animation Brings In T.J. Fixman To Write ‘Popeye’

2015 was a crazy year for me, both personally and professionally. Although I am a few weeks late, I thought I would take some time to write up a list of resolutions for 2016. Cliché? Maybe. Ridiculous? Probably. But hey, it’s worth a shot—even if I only accomplish one or two of them.

  1. Learn to let go.

A lot of people think that when you sell a script, or join a project, that means that it’s guaranteed to hit the theatres. So many times my family will ask “When is it coming out?!” after hearing about a sale or OWA (Open Writing Assignment), and I have to tell them “I don’t know. Maybe soon. Maybe never.” Explaining the realities of the industry can be quite painful, since there are so many moving pieces—and many of them have nothing to do with the script.

Truth is, people work in this town for years without seeing their work realized on screen. And each time a project ends for me, yes, it is a bummer. Wiping the project off my dry erase board hurts every time, but I have to take it in stride. 2015 even saw me leave a project I loved dearly, and walking away felt like I had broken up with a long-time girlfriend. It stung like hell, but it was the right call for me. So in 2016, I’m going to try to do a better job of letting it roll off my back. After all, there is more to be thankful for than regretful for. In 2015 I got to write about CIA spies, art thieves, robots in disguise, microscopic warriors from another planet, and unstable cops in South Florida. All in all it’s been a pretty damn good year, so it’s better to focus on what I got to do rather than what I had to let go.

  1. Get that “work/life balance” thing down – finally.

This is a tough one, and it’s probably been a resolution the last five years. I’m absolutely terrible at maintaining a healthy work/life balance. I spend too much time indoors. I prioritize work over everything, and though there is a very good (if not understandable) reason for this, that’s one thing I think I’ll keep to myself for now. But while this quirk has been great for me professionally, I can’t help but feel like I’m missing out on… well, everything else.

I don’t think I’ll ever lean off the gas at work—people depend on me to submit my pages on time, and I intend to do that. But I also want to make sure I enjoy some fresh air. Maybe pick up a hobby. This is trickier than it sounds, since writing used to be my hobby. But heck, I’ll find something. The harmonica, maybe?

  1. Write something unexpected.

Once you start writing professionally out here, it’s very easy for people to put you in a box. I actually don’t mind the one I’m in, since I love writing adventures and action-comedies. But I’d like to challenge myself with a personal project—maybe a novel, or a short story, or a comic book in a genre I haven’t done before. I’ve been noodling with a bunch of different ideas over the last few years, but I’ve shoved them in drawer because they don’t fit what’s expected of me. So maybe the solution is to do it for myself in 2016 and not worry about the paycheck.

  1. Cut down on Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Whiskey

Just kidding. That stuff is delicious.

  1. Stop watching the clock.

When you hit 30, you find yourself looking at the clock more. You compare yourself, and your life, to your friends. Are you where they are? Have you done everything you set out to do when you were a kid? Should you be worried if you haven’t?

I have to remember that I’m still a young guy with a long career ahead of him, and being 36 isn’t all that bad. Plus I’ve heard the music teenagers listen to these days, and it sucks. Seriously—One Direction? Bieber? Jesus. Kids, I know it’s cheesy to hear “new stuff sucks, listen to the classics,” but do yourself a favor and listen to anything by Guns ‘N Roses. Sam Cooke. Pearl Jam. Queen. Otis Redding. Ice Cube. The late, great David Bowie. Actually listen to the lyrics, and tell me with a straight face that the music of 2015 is better. My point is, I feel lucky enough to come from the last great era of music.

Except for Creed and Nickelback. We were clearly asleep at the wheel when they snuck through. Sorry.

  1. Remind myself that LA isn’t real.

This one may take some explaining. Of course it’s real in the sense that we don’t live in the Matrix (I don’t think) and this isn’t Inception (I’m fairly certain). But all those parodies you see about Hollywood on TV and in film are absolutely on point—and what’s scarier: after a while, you forget that you’re living in a gluten-free, organic, self-aggrandizing bubble of hot molten insanity. In LA people constantly ask you to subscribe to their YouTube channels, tune into their web series, RT their tweets, introduce them to your agents, read their scripts, and listen to their podcasts. Everything becomes about networking. Pitching. Auditioning. Selling.

And after a while, you accept it as normal. You actually catch yourself wondering about your follower count, or why that fan left a nasty comment about you in the comment section. It’s only when I go home to New Jersey that I realize how ridiculous my little bubble world is. I love Los Angeles, but I need to remember that the rest of the world is completely different. It’s grounded. It doesn’t give a shit how many followers you have or if pilot season has started. Everyone else is just trying to carve out their own lives. Maybe this means I need to go back east more, or spend more time away from LA. But since that won’t happen, I just need to remember that the rest of the world is out there, not caring about the same things people here care about.

  1. Tell people “thank you.”

Professionally and personally, I’ve been very lucky. I have an amazing group of friends, an awesome manager who has been with me since Jump Street, a fantastic agent who has locked in some sick projects for me, a damn good lawyer, and most importantly: an amazing family. And I rarely tell them. In 2016 I’ll do a better job of thanking them for supporting me and always being there when I need them.

  1. Travel more.

Maybe this is tied to #6, but still worth bringing up. I need to see more of the world, or at least the country. Luckily I’m already on my way to realizing this one. At the end of this month some pals and me are off to Austin to visit our friend Dave at The Chive. If we survive that trip, I plan to travel a bit more this year—even if that means packing up the laptop and taking my work on the road.

  1. Stay away from cigarettes.

I’m actually a non-smoker, but I wasn’t always. There was a time when I couldn’t stay away from them, so every year I renew my resolution to never touch a cigarette again. For you smokers out there, trust me when I say it’s worth quitting.

  1. See something of mine get green-lit.

This is tied to #1, and yes, it’s a bit of a selfish one. But even though I’ve been on several incredible projects since leaving Insomniac, I have yet to see one produced that carried my voice. This is relatively normal since development often drags on for years and lots of times projects go away, but hopefully one of the projects I’m working on will get the official green light in 2016. And man, I am on some exciting ones.

But if this resolution fails and none of them go into production, that’s okay—because I always have resolutions #1 and #4 as backups.

Working with Hasbro

Posted: September 29, 2015 in Uncategorized

Hey All,

Some great news hit the trades today that I’m excited to finally share. Effective this month I’ll be joining Hasbro in a non-exclusive position. Acting as a Creative Consultant for all boys’ IPs is pretty much a dream position for an 80s kid like me. I grew up on Transformers and GI Joe, so to get to play in that sandbox and help grow those worlds (and others) feels like the kind of gig you can only land if you’ve made a deal with Zoltar.

For those of you who asked on Twitter and the Ratchet & Clank group what will happen to my feature work, the simple answer is “nothing” – that will continue. But when I’m not hammering away on the feature stuff, I’ll be with the talented folks at Hasbro helping to shape their already-amazing worlds. I can’t say much beyond that, but trust me when I say it’s an exciting time over there.

Hope to have more for you soon…

TJ

PS: To clarify on the press release, I was the Senior Writer on the R&C franchise for 7 years, but I did not create the franchise. That honor goes to Insomniac CEO Ted Price and Chief Creative Officer Brian Hastings.

Hey All,

Just wanted to show you the trailer for the new Ratchet & Clank game on PS4! No, I don’t think that’s the official title, but I love it anyway! I was thrilled to come back to Insomniac and work with Brian Allgeier, Chad Dezern, Shaun McCabe, and Jon Paquette (who graciously took time out of his insane writing schedule on Sunset Overdrive). I didn’t think it would be possible for Insomniac to make a Ratchet world that looks better than it did on PS3, but holy hell, the NC studio just crushed it. I’m very excited to play and then check out the movie!

TJ

E3 Scavenger Hunt 2015

Posted: June 1, 2015 in Uncategorized

Hey Friends!

As many of you know, last year I decided to use a scavenger hunt to motivate me to check out as much of Comic-Con as possible. You guys suggested some truly awesome ideas, and I had a lot of fun checking off as much of the list as I could (Special shout-out to the old dude in the kilt. You keep rocking it, sir.). I saw more of Comic-Con than I ever had before, and probably more than any sane man should see. So naturally, this year I thought it would be fun to do the same for E3.

So what do I need from you? Ideas! What games should I check out? Who should I visit? What should I ask them? Hit me up with some ideas by either DMing me, tweeting me, or leaving a comment here. I’ll post the lists before the event, and the results a day or two after once I have recovered and Purelled sufficiently.

Best,
TJ