Of the many seemingly cool projects I've worked on that revealed themselves in the long run to be instruments of evil, Cinema Thread magazine was easily the coolest.
An editor friend, whose sensibilities and work I respected dearly then and continue to hold in high esteem, reached out to see if I'd be interested in contributing to a new concept.
Straight up cultural writing was in short supply and finding out that deep-pocketed investors were committed to a very fine print publication steeped in all things film was very exciting.
Even more exciting was the news that Agatha French, Ross Gardiner, Brian Fairbanks, and Sophia Stuart would be pulling in harness for the writing team. Tack on design work from Rachel Many and I was delighted by the prospect of pitching work.
The first edition came complete with a piece I wrote about an idea that villains (especially in cinema, but feel free to extrapolate the idea on a global level) are essential referents.
There were subsequent pitch meetings and checks for online content, in which I opined on the 9/11 Seinfeld spec-script that was making the rounds. I even got to share my spec-script for Homeless Improvement, a dark follow up to Home Improvement where the Taylor family is living homeless on the hollowed out streets of Detroit.
They actually let me get away with it, which should have set off warning bells in my head. The owners weren't concerned about being provocative, a rare trait in LA media. Not because they were renegades and auteurs, but because the magazine was a front for financial malfeasance.
The ISSUU capture doesn't do the cover justice. It was embossed and perfect bound. The whole thing came in heavy 80lb stock. Beautiful stuff.
There was even a launch party at Mack Sennett Studio, which was new to me. Usually I would provide writing to a publication and the celebration would be individual and typically three months later after I'd badgered their accounts payable division for a check.
Not this time! I was hobknobbing with actual attractive people in a nice space that the owners had rented to celebrate something I'd worked on. Cool.
If you'd pulled me aside then and told me that eight years later that one of the owners would be arrested and charged with orchestrating a $650 million Ponzi scheme, I probably wouldn't have been surprised. But that's Hollywood for you.