MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

An Interview with Hollywood Literary Manager and Film and Television Producer Dr. Kenneth Atchity


iStudioi Interview

Dr. Ken Atchity, Chairman of Atchity Entertainment International, Inc. (AEI), is a self-defined "story merchant,” with more than forty years experience in the publishing world, and over fifteen years in the entertainment industry. He is a writer, producer, teacher, and literary manager, responsible for launching dozens of books and films.

Ken looks for great storytellers in order to turn them into bestselling authors and screenwriters, utilizing AEI’s The Writer’s Lifeline, Inc., which consults with authors in need of a bridge to the professional world, and Finish Line Brand Launch Management, a new division of AEI, which partners with business-minded authors to reach maximum markets in all media.

Known for his “outside the box” thinking, Ken has produced nearly thirty films for his clients and has sold numerous books in all categories, including 15 bestsellers.

Ken’s films include Joe Somebody (starring Tim Allen; Fox), Life or Something Like It (starring Angelina Jolie; Fox), The Amityville Horror (NBC), Shadow of Obsession (NBC), The Madam's Family: The Truth About The Canal Street Brothel (CBS), Gospel Hill (Fox), and Hittin’ the Bricks.

Films in development include Ripley’s Believe-It-Or-Not! starring Jim Carrey, with Chris Columbus (“Narnia”) directing (Paramount), Demon Keeper, with Sam Fell (“Flushed Away”) directing (Fox), and 3 Men Seeking Monsters, with Mark Steven Johnson (“Ghost Rider”) directing (Universal).

Additionally, AEI produces reality shows in partnership with Renegade (“Blind Date”), and has several shows in development for its brand clients. AEI has associate managers in 29 countries, and nearly every state in the U.S.

Ken actively works with his authors to help them maximize revenue from their book royalties and film revenues. Based on his experience with launching Noire, Ripley’s, Demon Keeper, The Thrillionaires, and Dracula: The Un-Dead, Ken now provides brand franchising partnership services for selective clients. These services permit the integration, evaluation, and launch of brands in all media to build ongoing multiple pillars of revenue.

In addition, Ken’s years of experience as a writer, editor, professor, manager, and producer have allowed him to form a wide network of international relationships and contacts, creating the most productive and positive team approach for his clients.

Ken completed his undergraduate work at Georgetown University (A.B., English/Classics; Winner Virgilian Medal), and his graduate work at Yale (M. Phil., Theater History; Ph.D. Comparative Literature). Ken is a regular at Mark Victor Hansen’s Mega Book Marketing University, and speaks at writers conferences throughout the world.

We caught up with Ken in Los Angeles and had an opportunity to speak with him about his fascinating career.

iStudioi: What brought you into the world of literary management?

KJA: When I left the academic world to produce movies, I realized that managing stories and storytellers was my strength. When I discovered literary management, I had found the promised land and my mission: to bring talented writers across the river to their professional destiny.

iStudioi: What types of literary projects do you find most commercially appealing?

KJA: I have a broad range of tastes and a passionate love for all kinds of commercial stories. My number one criterion is excellence and the other number one criterion is the market. A great story with a market—that’s what I look for.

iStudioi: What is that makes a great story?

KJA: A great story is a story that moves the reader—to delight, to action, to thought. It has strong characters and a strong beginning, middle, and end.

iStudioi: How can you tell whether a story is best as a book or film?

KJA: Ideally a great story can be both. Then it’s just a question of where to begin the marketing process.

iStudioi: What to you tell your emerging manuscript and screenwriters as they begin to prepare that next great book or film project?

KJA: Talk to us first to make sure you don’t waste a year or more of your life on something that has no current market.

iStudioi: Are some books better for self-publishing?

KJA: That depends on a number of factors, starting with the author’s (a) financial resources and (b) ability to connect with the book’s market. If both (a) and (b) are high, then self-publishing (through an established imprint that services entrepreneurial writers) may very well be more lucrative. If (a) and/or (b) are on the low end of the spectrum, then self-publishing is not the best way to go. Aside from that generalization, find a consultant like our Writer’s Lifeline company, who can advise you professionally.

iStudioi: Is there a rule for determining whether a film project is more appropriate for a studio as opposed to being produced as an "Indie."

KJA: If a story is original, it’s probably not for a major studio. Because of their corporate ownership and the immense cost of their films, studios in the last few years have gone to acquiring stories that have underlying property value­—such as Broadway plays, high visibility novels, well-known comic books, etc. The exception is a screenplay that has a major director and/or star firmly attached. All else, in today’s filmmaking world, has become “Indie.”

iStudioi: Tell us how you envision your representation in the world of literary management.

KJA: We keep an open mind, and an eye on rapidly changing events to allow us to protect our clients’ interests. Amid the turmoil of the changing channels of delivery, one thing remains constant in the story marketplace: the worldwide demand for great stories and important information, which makes creating and owning intellectual property an even more stable opportunity than owning and developing real estate. We feel that the important thing for authors is to pursue the right strategy, so the tactics will fall into place to make it all happen.

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