The story behind this film’s development is one of both triumph and heartbreak. More after the jump.
To Whom It May Concern,
My name is Bryan Waterman. I am the creator and director of The Waterman Movie. The story behind this film’s development is one of both triumph and heartbreak. The film is based on an online animated series I started as a high school student back in August 2003 entitled Waterman (and yes I am well aware of my wizard-like abilities to come up with project titles). The series quickly went on to win countless awards, attract millions of viewers from around the world and nearly land it’s own spot on the FOX network. It was a ride that I never expected to take and I could have never predicted what it was all leading up to.
When I had decided to end the series, I wrote what I believed would be the last episode. Upon completion of the fifty-six page script, I realized that I had written what would later become The Waterman Movie. The storyline revolves around a new character named Ready Espanosa (a world famous explorer that disappears during an expedition). Espanosa was based on the characters of comedic legend, Leslie Nielsen. Leslie was the reason that I got into comedy in the first place, and it had been a dream of mine to one day work alongside him. Each and every time I read the dialogue for Ready Espanosa, I heard Leslie’s voice. So, I took a chance and began the long journey of contacting the man himself to play the part.
I was able to get in touch with a playhouse in Canada where Leslie had spoken several years prior to my search. The playhouse put me in touch with an agency that unfortunately no longer represented him. However, that agency was able to put me in touch with a woman by the name of Elisa Amsterdam who worked for the agency that represented him. Elisa and I exchanged email after email. I would send her information about the project, and she would relay it to Leslie directly. It was so amazing that it almost seemed too good to be true, and nothing gave me that feeling more than the two months that Elisa stopped returning my emails. It wasn’t until I sent my final email to Elisa that I was informed that she had passed away. Saddened by the loss of someone that I now considered a friend and having to quickly come to terms with the fact that my connection to Leslie had now been lost, I began contemplating whether or not to continue with the project at all. Then, just when I thought all hope was lost, I received an email from Leslie that said:
Could you please email us with a phone number – or call me?
The next day, Leslie and I spoke for three hours about everything under the sun. I told him all about the project and within the first conversation he was on board, pro bono. In the following months, I would drive to Canada to hand deliver him the script and later direct him while he recorded his lines for the film. In the following years, Leslie and I would become close friends, but, due to financial constraints, the movie would continue to struggle to make it’s way into production. After nearly bankrupting both myself and Waterman Studios in an attempt to fund the project, I launched a campaign via Kickstarter.com to raise the funds needed to put the film into production. Unfortunately, we were unable to reach our goal and were unable to move forward with production.
Then, on November 28, 2010, Leslie passed away due to complications with pneumonia at the age of eighty-four (his final film resting in my shaking hands.) The bittersweetness of Leslie’s passing was that it brought a lot of attention to The Waterman Movie. Those who have come forward to express interest in assisting the project include the amazingly talented artists and animators behind CJC Entertainment, who have offered their time and services to the project, as well as the incredible individuals at IndustryWorks, who have offered to distribute the film internationally upon its completion. While these generous offers will contribute to the one day successful completion of the film, The Waterman Movie remains in a state of financial limbo.
I have lost too much over the years that this project has been in development to never see it come to fruition, and the only personal gain that I have any interest in obtaining from all of this would be the satisfaction of giving my friend Leslie Nielsen another opportunity to keep us laughing.