On a recent early December morning, I found myself on a barstool at Rosie’s Greenpoint Tavern on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, the dive bar famous for serving cheap beer in 24-ounce Styrofoam cups. I'll admit, It’s not the first time I've found myself in that position. But on this day, I’m waiting on the great Ken Bruen, the award-winning Irish crime noir author, and talking with Open Road’s executive v-p of production, Luke Parker Bowles, as his crew prepares for the day's shoot.
A former feature film producer and Hollywood executive, Parker Bowles established the video arm at inception of Open Road, in 2010. Today, the company has produced over 300 pieces—short, interesting videos Open Road uses as the cornerstone of its 21st century book marketing plan. Just don’t call them book trailers. “F--- book trailers,” Parker Bowles says. “I wouldn’t presume to try to tell a reader what they will experience with a book.” Rather, Parker Bowles says, Open Road’s pieces are short documentaries, designed to establish authors as brands. Over the course of today’s all-day shoot, the crew will shoot enough material with Bruen to produce a number of short films, films that will later be rolled out in numerous venues for marketing.
If you like gritty, noir fiction, you’re probably already a fan of Bruen’s. Bruen signed with Open Road July 20 as part of Open Road's Publishing Partnership with Otto Penzler's MysteriousPress.com. His first Open Road e-books Her Last Call to MacNeice, and Rilke on Black, were published in October. Set in Galway, Ireland, Bruen’s work explores a number of rich, often disturbing themes, in a sharp, singular vernacular. But you probably don't know much about Bruen himself. As the cameras roll, and Bruen talks, I found myself mesmerized by his story, which is every bit as interesting as his fiction.
For all the talk about how film can be used to promote books, so far, the industry seems to be struggling to figure it all out. Sure, making films is easier than ever, but the fact remains: you really can’t just pull out your flip cam, or run an author into your little office "studio" and start firing questions. Making film work for books requires serious preparation, and vision. At PW, we were interested in how Open Road does what it does, so we spent a couple of days with Open Road’s producers, both on set and in the editing room, to get a look behind the scenes. We’ll publish that full feature in January—and you won’t want to miss it.
Today, however, we’re happy to start with the end-product first: Ken Bruen’s film debut with Open Road.