• John Fiorella


In 1999, I got a call from Laura Gregory, a movie producer at a budding film production company based in England. She asked if I would be interested in a first class ticket to London to meet the executive overseeing a commercial for a new PlayStation game, titled “The Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver.”

Before sun up, I was air bound. Twelve hours later, I landed, ate on the Thames, and headed to the meeting, but I didn’t come empty handed…

The night before, I scribbled together a 30-second spot based on a single image of the Soul Reaver they faxed me with my itinerary. I drove my sketches over to the valley, where the wickedly creative illustrative powers of Shane Donahue transformed my silly stick figures into kick-ass storyboards. I hit Kinkos on the way home, used up the last dollar in my checking account to print copies of my pitch, and went home to pack.

During the meeting, I broke out the boards and walked the executive through the idea. Not only did he greenlight the project with a six-figure budget, but he insisted that I cast the actor from one of my college films as the Soul Reaver himself. “Not a problem," I said with a smile, “he’s me.”

By the next day, I was back in LA, working my day job, managing the front desk of an athletic club – all the while, preparing for the chance to create an international spot that would pave the way to a life of cinematic storytelling. Unfortunately, three weeks later, Sony opted for a cheaper route: a commercial comprised solely of video game footage.

Despite my disappointment, the thrill of having to come up with something Playstation-worthy on the fly, and be able to it pitch it, and win the go-ahead, was a welcome rush.