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Untold Tales of Hollywood #4

FILM #4: Time Gate (1979)
Directed by John Broderick
Story by William Stout

While I was working on what would become The Warrior and the Sorceress, John Broderick pitched me on another project. He called it Time Gate. It sounded a lot like a variation on the classic Ray Bradbury short story “A Sound of Thunder” with a near movie-length chase (spurred by what we in The Biz call a “ticking clock”) thrown in. John wanted me to be involved in the design of the film and he wanted me to write the script. He was going to direct. He told me the project had already begun but that it was temporarily stuck in limbo until a proper script could be written. He showed me some creatures that had been fabricated for the movie. He called them “wolf lizards”; I recognized them as Cynognathus.

I actually don’t recall what I did on Time Gate. I may have written an outline or treatment to solidify or pump up what John told me about the story’s structure and I may have produced a painting or some drawings. I’m pretty sure I didn’t write an entire screenplay. I do recall that what I did wasn’t much, and that I was quickly on to something else.

Not too long after my Time Gate experience with Broderick, I discovered the true story — something John never told me. Time Gate was a film project being spearheaded by my friend, the talented stop motion animator and effects expert Jim Danforth.

Jim had written the story and was slated to direct the film and do all of the effects and stop motion animation. John Broderick was attempting to steal the movie away from Jim. I was mortified. When I rewrote the film, I had no idea Jim was involved. I confronted John. He lied to me and told me it was originally a Danforth project but that Jim was currently off the picture.

After I found out what John was trying to pull, I called Jim and explained to him what had happened. Understandably, Jim thought I had tried to stab him in the back and steal his picture. Knowing Broderick, though, Danforth totally understood how I’d been duped. Jim told me he didn’t think it was in my character to treat him like that. He was relieved to hear that this whole sordid mess was actually none of my making but due to John Broderick’s unethical conniving.

I’m sorry that Time Gate never made it to the screen. I would still love to see Jim’s movie!

3 thoughts on “Untold Tales of Hollywood #4

  1. Growing up with the work of masters O’Brien and Harryhausen, I was always on the lookout for new stop motion films. My love of saurians , lost worlds, and adventure tales also burned hot. When I first encountered this painting, I could not wait for the release. It promised to to fulfill all my interests. Sadly, it never came. Now we get the rest of the story. Amazing to hear how duplicitous some can be. I, too, would love to see the Danforth movie. It joins O’Brien’s War Eagles as a lost classic. Hopefully, we will finally be getting a version of Jim’s The Primevals soon. That is another film I’ve been waiting on for years.

  2. Didn’t know you had been involved, altho’ that might be in Jim’s memoir and I had forgotten that. Timegate would have been a very unique film. The sculpts were looking great, and we all know what a master of animation Jim is. Probably would have been some of the most realistic and dynamic dinos to ever grace the screen.

  3. Well, I must have had a senior moment, or been operating on too little sleep. I, for some inexplicable reason, recalled Danforth for The Primevals film, knowing full well, that it was the great Dave Allen. Yikes! Both were amazing practitioners of the art. Still hope to see that film finished at some point.

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