Press > Escape From L.A. > Exclusive Interviews > Coleman Luck (Commissioned Script Writer/1987)

How did you end up being a writer and producer for film and television?

My interest in screenwriting started while I was at university after the army. I had done advertising writing for years but had never considered writing for screen. Taking a history of film course sparked the beginning.

How did you get the assignment to write an official Escape From L.A. script? What got you interested in it and why did you add the cloning ending revolving Snake Plissken for instance?

The story behind the script is pretty simple. At the time I was a writer/producer at Universal working on The Equalizer for CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System). I think (John) Carpenter made contact with me through my agency at the time ICM (International Creative Management)
. At least I believe that's how it happened. (This was a long time ago.) Don't know why he chose me except that I was known for hard-edged fantasy material. We met at a local restaurant in the San Fernando Valley and talked briefly. He gave me no thoughts about the script at all. There was only one thing that he insisted on. The script had to be a prequel. That was it. I don't know why he made that choice. As far as Carpenter and (Kurt) Russell are concerned I never had a single conversation about the script with them after it was turned in. What I wrote never got beyond first draft because the day I turned it in the DeLaurentis Studio went bankrupt. The project became part of the bankruptcy but I did get paid which was a miracle. As you know, it stayed in limbo for years and years. When Carpenter finally got it back it didn't surprise me at all that he tossed my version. I doubt that he even read it again. Truth is. I expected my version to be tossed when I first turned it in.

I was interested in the project because I had loved Escape From New York. Carpenter sent me off to write whatever came into my mind. I think I did do a treatment before I started the script which he read but had no comment about. For me the strength of Escape From New York was the dark comedy of it all married to action with a strong clock. The first film took a lot of pokes at New York and I think that's one of the reasons it worked. I wanted to do the same thing with Los Angeles and of course the darkest comedy should revolve around Plissken himself. Why did I add the cloning thing? I liked the idea. It turns the whole Escape From New York on its head which I thought then and still think is great. People would have argued about it forever. You're talking about and it was never even shot. Plissken freaks would have been shrieking about the clone ending but I believe they would have bought it the way I wrote it. To say he was a clone is too easy. There was a lot more too it than that. The cloning revelation was really eerie, not just an science-fiction cliché.

Which parts of your script do you like the most and is there anything about those parts you'd like to discus?

The strange thing about writing is that after you have written the thing takes on a life of its own quite apart from you. People come into contact with it and there is an immediacy about it for them that is long past for the writer. I haven't read my version of Escape From L.A. in almost 25 years and I don't own a copy now. I remember the end and a few scenes such as the traffic jam frozen in place forever with crazy people living in their cars and the insane parade with deadly float wars. I remember the beginning sequence set in Las Vegas-by-the-sea where Snake participates in an awful game of chance called Bet Your Body Part etcetera but I couldn't focus on any aspect at this late date and call it my favorite. It was full of things that had never been seen before and were as dark comedy as you can get. And there was plenty of action throughout culminating at Rodent Park, all that was left of Disneyland.

Did you drew any inspiration from being a Vietnam veteran while writing the script? Also, did your experiences as a former soldier somehow affected your interest in Snake Plissken?

I have drawn inspiration throughout my writing career from being a combat soldier and leader when I was young. That and the fact that I have been a Christian for many, many years have created the themes for all of my writing. Combat is not a videogame. Killing people even when it is justified is a terrible thing and it does not leave you. All of us need the forgiveness of God for our sins. We need His redemption. The situation in the world is so awful that sometimes the only way to deal with it is through dark comedy and over-the-top characters like Snake Plissken. In the script my view of Los Angeles, a city I love was a dark parody based on reality.

Why did you sell your only copy of it?

I had no more interest in it and felt that someone else might enjoy it. Having someone pay for it guaranteed that it would go to a person who really wanted it.

Why did you decide to move over to working in TV?

Several reasons. Having a true career in Hollywood as opposed to selling a script now and then is very difficult. Feature films belong to directors. They run the show and writers are brought in and shuffled out by the half dozen. In TV writers run the show. We hire and fire directors. Plus, in television there is the opportunity to develop characters and tell stories over many episodes. Not possible in feature films. TV is a writer's medium. If you are successful in it you have a chance to work with some regularity. Rather important when you have a family.

What work of yours are you the most proud of and why?

The work that I did on The Equalizer. I had the most freedom there to create.

Introduce us to your novel Angel Fall. What is it about and what inspired you to write it?

It is a dark fantasy set in another world. It's about three young people from a broken home who are taken into a world filled with evil hanging on the edge of eternal night. Each must go on a dangerous journey. As they travel alone they confront their own past with all of its hurt and damage. I have been flattered that the novel has been compared to the work of (C.S.) Lewis, (J.R.R.) Tolkien and (H.P.) Lovecraft.

Purchase Coleman's novel Angel Fall here.

You're also a mentalist and a speaker. Can you tell us a little about this?

I think the best way to answer this would be to invite readers to visit my website: where I talk about this extensively under the category Illusions of Power.

What are you currently doing and what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I'm getting ready to start a new screenwriting project in the new year. Can't talk much about it at this point. I teach a monthly Bible study in Hollywood geared to people in the entertainment industry. The recordings of these are also on my website. Also, I live in beautiful mountains near Yosemite National Park. My wife and I enjoy photography and travel.

In closing. You aren't a fan of the final version of Escape From L.A. In what ways do you think your version would've been better?

Why do I think my script would have been better? Everyone who has read it has told me so. They have been incredulous that Carpenter didn't make it but beyond my script almost any script would have been better than the bucket of warm vomit that he threw at the audience. The truth is. I really don't care what he did or didn't do. It's ancient history.

Thank you for your time, Coleman.

More about Coleman Luck here:
More about Coleman Luck's script here: (Review) By RaulMonkey, Ain't It Cool News