Midnight Madness Blog

- 2008
- 2007

A Few Words with JT Petty

Director  JT Petty holding a large dog.

Last night after the great documentary Not Quite Hollywood  that screened at Midnight Madness I ran into director JT Petty (The Burrowers) and spoke with him about his career.

Robert Mitchell - RM
J.T. Petty - JT

RM "You went to NYU film school and I was wondering what your first job was from film school?"

JT "I didn't know film school resulted in jobs. The first film I made, Soft For Digging, was made at NYU and was my senior project. It was shot for six thousand bucks, but I didn't have enough money to make a print. It took me about three years to save up the money for that. In the course of those three years I would go from day job to day job. I finally saw that a software company was advertising for a receptionist and when I showed up, I found out that they were also looking for a script writer and I figured I didn't want to answer phones, so I applied for the script writer job and then I ended up doing that."

RM "You wrote the scripts for the Splinter Cell games as well as Batman Begins. I was wondering: When you were writing these video games, what kind of freedom did you to have to make the story your own?"

JT "It changes from game to game. On Splinter Cell, [Ubisoft] bought the Tom Clancy name and the only stipulation was Splinter Cell had to be a third person action game, so I was free to take the story wherever I wanted. On something like Batman Begins there was a fair amount of latitude on that because you were making a ten hour game instead of an hour and a half game, basically you could fill in a lot of the down time."

RM "It must've been really cool to write a story for Batman."

JT "Totally, totally. I have actually done two Batman games now. Everybody loves Batman!"

RM "During the time that you're doing all of this script writing for video games, you're still making films. You made S&Man which screened at Midnight Madness in 2006 and this year you're back with The Burrowers. How much time has elasped from the writing of the screenplay for The Burrowers until now, days before being shown at the festival?"

JT "Burrowers was originally a script called Ten Thousand Little Indians, which I wrote in 2003, that wound up at Lionsgate and I thought I would shoot it two, three years back. That fell through because it was a hard genre to market. Then I made S&Man to occupy that summer and the movie came back together the following year."

RM "I was on your website today and saw that you're writing a lot of books also (The Clemency Pouge series)."

JT "I do indeed. I write kids books as well!"

RM "I looked up Splinter Cell on IMDb.com and all there was was a date of 2010. If there is anyone who should be directing Splinter Cell the movie it should be you."

JT "I don't know, I wrote one Splinter Cell script about two years back then got fired off of that job. I don't know but a Splinter Cell movie would be fun."

RM "What is the next project you are working on?"

JT "Everybody in Hollywood is talking about the seven things they are going to make next if I were to put money on it, it would be Faces of Death, a remake of that. I could also be doing an adaptation for one of my kids books for the Jim Henson Company. It will basically be a kids movie or Faces of Death."

Robert Mitchell talking to director JT Petty last night.