Categories: Features, Interviews, PS3 News
Written By: OReillyT
Jack Epps Jr is an award winning writer and film maker. Some of his work includes Top Gun, The Secret of my success and Anaconda. Currently Jack is working with DoubleSix on the upcoming PSN Top Gun game. GamersIreland was lucky enough to get to interview Jack recently:
1. How did it feel to work again on a Top Gun project again?
It was like returning to old friends. The movie has never really faded so I have continued to have a relationship with it for all these years. I had a great time writing the original script. I have my private pilots license – it’s inactive – so I love flying, and anything that deals with planes at high speeds is a lot of fun.
2. Can you tell us a bit about the game, when is it set in relation to the film and what’s Maverick been up to?
The game begins at the Top Gun School and ends in the Indian Ocean. The player is Maverick, and Goose is his RIO. The game is set in the 80’s. We don’t date it, but it has that feel. There is something about jets and the 80’s that seems to work.
Mav goes head to head with Iceman and Slider. Maverick still has a lot to learn. Most of the game takes place in the Indian Ocean. I got to think about that and play with what events would make sense for us to have seven battles in the Indian Ocean and still make it feel somewhat real.
3. Can you tell us a bit about how you worked with the development team on the Top Gun game.
Many of the assets of the game had been designed before I was brought on board. This is the second game I have written, so I was comfortable coming in a bit down the road. I had the same experience when I wrote the film, Anaconda. When I was brought in the CG effects where being worked on and I revised all the character scenes working around the CG effects.
The development team, DoubleSix, were terrific and we had a great relationship working together to pull all the elements into a narrative. I enjoy creative collaboration, and this was an especially good one.
4. How did you find writing for a game as opposed to writing for Movies and TV.
Writing for games is a lot more fun. Also, I enjoy the interaction with the developers. I’m one of the writers who like working with directors, so I also enjoyed sharing ideas with the developers.
Writing for movies is more intense and more difficult. So much depends on the story, characters and narrative. Gaming has the luxury of letting the play carry the experience. Writing scripts is more the emotional journey, but games are moving in that direction. In the next few years I expect to see deeper game stories and more emotional involvement.
5. You’ve wrote for some of the most successful actors in the business including Robert Redford, Tom Hanks, Michael J Fox, Al Pacino, Bruce Willis and of course Tom Cruise. Out of all the actors who have read your work on screen which one is the most memorable to you.
I have really been fortunate to work with so many terrific and serious actors. Each one has been different. If I had to pick one out I would say Tom Hanks. Tom was very generous and was deeply involved in the development of the material. He’s a very funny and smart man, and his insights were helpful. Tom Cruise was also at a great point in his career and he worked really hard to get Maverick the right tone and feeling.
6. The film was released in 1986 nearly 25 years ago now, yet people still can quote lines and character names from the film all these years later. What was it about these characters that made them so memorable and loved to this day?
This is a question I also ask myself. The movie just hit a chord. I think we made some initial decisions when writing the film that paid off. It’s a film about the guys, the planes and the experience. It’s not about the plot, so we don’t save the admiral at the end. I did a ton of research and the film really reflects who these guys are and their lifestyle. When I did the research, they were having more fun than the rest of the world. They really were special and I think we captured it. Also, the right producers, right director, right cast, great planes. It all came together.
7. Games have come a long way in the last 25 years. These days some video games have massively intricate story lines spanning multiple games, Have you ever considered writing a video game script in the past or would you like to in the future?
I like to create worlds and gaming creates the most creative worlds today in any of the visual arts. I would love the challenge of creating a really sinister and challenging environment. I also really like the multiple story lines – you can’t do that in film. I am excited about the future of gaming. The narratives are getting stronger and richer.
8. Is there any chance you might write a sequel to Top Gun for the big screen? There have been a few rumours floating around the Internet lately that one might be in the works!
The sequel should have been made in 1988. I can’t see it right now. It’s a different fighter aviation world today and any movie based in 2010 would be a completely different experience. Never say never.
Well there you go folks, the official word from a Hollywood legend. Many thanks to Jack Epps Jr himself and Simon Callaghan