American McGee’s Alice – Film Interview
I first met Scott Faye while Alice was in development. He was on his way to a meeting at EA when he caught sight of Alice concept artwork. Scott instantly fell in love with the project and has since worked tirelessly to bring it to the big screen.
What follows is an email interview I conducted with Scott. I asked him many of the questions I receive here and in the forum. I hope Scott’s answers will provide temporary comfort to those of you who’ve waited patiently for Alice film news.
To start off with, would you please tell us who you are and what your affiliation with “Alice” is? What projects are you working on and/or what companies are you working with these days?
SF: My name is Scott Faye. I am a producer working in Los Angeles. One of the projects on which I am working at producing as a feature film is your compelling video game creation, American McGee’s Alice. In addition to Alice, I recently produced (along with Julie Yorn) the feature film adaptation of the video game Max Payne for 20th Century Fox. I’ve recently partnered with Scott Miller and Jim Perkins to form a new company called Depth Entertainment. Depth Entertainment will be responsible for adapting all video game projects from another joint venture company, Radar IP Group.
As I’m sure you know, the big question on everyone’s mind is, what is the current status of the “Alice” movie project? What are the realistic chances of seeing the “Alice” film go into real production? What challenges are you faced with in getting it made?
SF: The Alice project is presently in “turnaround” from Universal Studios. Jon and Erich Hoeber have written a very compelling feature film screenplay adaptation of the Alice game. Their screenplay will certainly serve as a jumping off point as we find a new studio home for the project. In terms of the realistic chances of seeing the Alice project being produced, all I can say is that I have invested (along with Julie Yorn and Karen Lauder, my producing partners on the project) a lot of time and effort in this project. We will get it made. I offer my eight year effort to get the best version of the Max Payne film produced as proof of my tenacity as a film producer. Every film produced is a challenge. The major film studios are producing fewer movies every year, so to have one of them be yours is a very special experience. On the positive side, the Alice in Wonderland mythology is wonderfully compelling, and is an indelible concept in the minds of studio executives and the movie going public.
Is Sarah Michelle Gellar still attached to this project? How did she get involved in the beginning?
SF: Sarah is not currently attached to the project. Her initial involvement was the result of a very talented and effective member of her management team who became aware of the project and pursued on Sarah’s behalf.
There are rumors of Marcus Nispel being committed as the director and Jean Marsh getting picked for the part of the Queen of Hearts. Is there anything to these whispers?
SF: Marcus was at one point attached to direct the Alice film. He is not involved with the project at this time. I’m looking forward to seeing his take on the retelling of Friday the 13th when it comes to theaters next year. I can’t say that I have ever been aware of Jean Marsh’s involvement with the project.
Who else has expressed interest in being a part of it? Who would you like to see involved in terms of production and casting?
SF: My Max Payne experience has taught me that speculating on cast or director is not a productive approach to getting a film made. My firm belief is that the best cast and crew will ultimately gravitate toward the project. Who do you see as the ideal actress to play Alice?
Where is the script these days? Tell us a little about who has been involved in the drafting and writing of it from the beginning to its present state. How do you feel about the script the way it currently stands?
SF: As I’ve referenced above, Jon and Erich Hoeber have written a very compelling feature film adaptation of the Alice game. The Hoebers have been working with me on the Alice project longer than anyone with the exception of my producing partner Karen Lauder. To be perfectly honest, the script still needs a little bit of work. The downtime since the Hoebers turned in their last draft has allowed me to establish a bit of creative objectivity. I suspect that the next draft of the screenplay will allow the project to take a substantial leap forward toward production.
What do you expect from the film thematically? Artistically?
SF: Hhmmmm… I think you did a fantastic job of propelling the Alice narrative and mythos forward in the game schema. We’ll definitely be playing with the theme of exploring the nature of emotional instability. The exploration of the experience of an individual whose day-to-day existence proves a challenge vis a vis an externally nurtured mental instability, and the absolute need on the part of this person to gain a foothold in a more universally shared reality in order to save herself will play a substantial thematic role in the film adaptation. Artistically, my hope is to nurture the appropriate balance of great storytelling and the use of Wonderland mythology in crafting the narrative.
The music was such a major part of the initial impact of the “Alice” video game. What thoughts do you have on the music and score? Would you like to have Chris Vrenna back as the audial element of this story? Who else might you also like to see involved in the musical side of the production?
SF: I have always considered a film’s music and score to be as important as a great acting performance with regard to a film’s success. And while this is the case with the Alice project, I feel that we’re still a bit too far away from having established other critical elements to begin the process of considering the musical approach the the film. I will be sure to let you know when we’ve reached this milestone.
How true to the original story line of the game will the movie be? Is this intended to be a retelling of that story line or a continuation of it?
SF: The film narrative will borrow heavily from the game story. My mantra has always been that “a film is a film and a game is a game.” As is the case with a great many video game adaptations, the Alice game narrative does not possess all the requisite elements to establish a straight linear approach. We’ve built upon many character and narrative elements you employed in the game, and have augmented or created additional elements which we felt were needed to execute a screenplay worthy of being produced.
How much feedback and input have you taken from the Alice fans?
SF: Until now, not much. I have a feeling this might change now that you’ve dragged me into the light…
Please tell us a bit about what inspired you about the original game to take on a project like this.
SF: To be honest, I wasn’t a huge Alice in Wonderland fan while growing up (although I did enjoy the Alice ride at Disneyland quite a bit). When I initially came across the artwork for the game while visiting EA, the revised approach to the mythology caught my attention. The project represented, and still does, the perfect marriage of art and commerce – and I mean this in the best way possible. I loved the grown up Alice in a horror story version of Wonderland, and knew instinctively that the project would have a commercial appeal easily discerned by the film studios because the character and mythology are so deeply ingrained into the collective psyche.
Any words to the fans who are eagerly awaiting movement on this project?
SF: Hang in there. We’re doing everything we can to get a version of the Alice movie produced that will be worthy of your passion for the game, and your movie going investment.
Thanks so much for your time Scott! I’m sure the fans will appreciate the insight you’ve given them into the process of adapting Alice to film. We wish you luck with Max Payne and look forward to seeing you tackle Alice soon.
And hey! While I’ve got your attention, I’d like to invite everyone to check out the latest twisted tales project: American McGee’s Grimm. Shameless plug, I know! Here are some interesting links: