By Jeremy Wein
Slated to premiere tonight on NBC is the new J.J Abrams produced series Revolution. Revolution is set 15 years after all the power mysteriously disappears from Earth during an event called “The Blackout” and the world becomes a dystopian middle ages. Sounds good right? Well, according to statements from Penn State alum Randy Troy, J.J. may not have been too original in his newest creation. Randy is the director of a 40 minute film entitled Regression, which went into production in October of 2010. The film’s log line is as follows: “It happened three months ago. The Blackout. All the world’s electronics stopped working: cell phones, televisions, computers … everything— and nobody knows why. However, one man is willing to risk it all to find out.”
Now I am sure you’re saying, “Well that’s an unfortunate coincidence” — that is, until you find out renowned producer Gerald Abrams (J.J.’s father) was a donor to the project and received a DVD copy of the movie in May of 2011.
Let me back up to the start.
The first draft of the film was written September 7th, 2010 as seen below in a photo of the cover page of the script.
According to Randy, as part of the Penn State film program, treatments for student thesis films are submitted to potential donors. He was informed through email (which is below) on October 21st, 2010 that he would receive part of his funding from Gerald Abrams by way of the Samuel D. Abrams Senior Film Endowment Fund. Samuel D. Abrams is the late grandfather of J.J. Abrams, and Gerald is his father. The connection goes even further in that Gerald Abrams is a Penn State Alumni.
As part of the agreement, Randy signed a paper stating that Gerald and the Samuel D. Abrams Senior Film Endowment Fund would get a credit as donors and a good faith agreement to attempt to repay the donation within 10 years. Also a stipulation was that they would receive a copy of the film upon completion.
Production on the film began in October of 2010. In spring of 2011, Gerald Abrams visited Randy’s class. Randy describes the event as such: “It was one of the bigger events we had that year. He took interest in hearing the breakdowns of each of our films. He stayed attentive but showed next to no emotion until I explained my film. He commented something like “Yeah, I like that, that’s very good.” I later had a one on one with him after class had ended where I thanked him personally for the grant, and he further complimented the idea, mentioning he looked forward to seeing the film.”
Randy graduated from Penn State in May of 2011, at which point his film had been submitted and a copy had been given to the school. Faculty were then required to send a copy to Gerald Abrams per the agreement of The Samuel D. Abrams Senior Film Endowment Fund.
Fast forward to February of 2012, Randy has decided to continue working on some technical aspects of the film (special effects, etc), when someone points him toward’s this article on Entertainment Weekly Online from February 2nd, 2012 (a full 15 months after the 1st draft of Regression had been written), announcing a J.J. Abrams produced series that sounds eerily similar to Randy’s film.
He approached Penn State (the emails he sent are below) about this and after ultimately being given the run around, was finally given a copy of the funding agreement he signed. This document shows The Samuel D. Abrams Senior Film Endowment Fund, as shown below.
Even more interesting is the fact that Bad Robot (J.J.’s production company) was working on a blackout project before Revolution creator Eric Kripke pitched his idea for a series about the end of society. This is stated in an interview done by Collider.com with Kripke that was published just yesterday.
Collider: So, how did you then get involved with Bad Robot?
KRIPKE: Bad Robot and I had been wanting to do something together for awhile. I said, “I’ve got this idea for after the fall of society, and dudes with swords and heroes, and there’s this farm girl who sets off on this adventure.” They said, “Great! What caused society to fall?” And I said, “I don’t know. Maybe a plague?” And they said, “Well, you know, we’re working on this story about what happens if there was a blackout. We wanted to tell a story in the initial aftermath of that, but we’re having trouble because that’s a really depressing show.” And I said, “Well, your chocolate is going to meet my peanut butter, my friends.” So, we took both ideas and, from that, Revolution was born.
Randy is currently looking into pursuing legal action. At one point he had on retainer world-renowned entertainment lawyer Paul Marshall (who represented Michael Jackson in the sale of the Beatles’ song catalog) to work on the case, but Mr. Marshall unfortunately passed away shortly after in May. Randy is currently looking for another entertainment lawyer to take his case. He says that ultimately, “This is two years in the making. And considering that I’m in the infancy of my career, until I finish my next big project, Regression is really my life’s work. To have that usurped from me is something I can’t really express in words.”
(Front Page Of Script Showing The First Draft Completed 9/7/2010)
(Samuel D Abrams Film Endowment Statement Of Intent )
(Email informing Randy of his funding)
(Randy’s two emails to Penn State Upon Discovering The Entertainment Weekly Article)
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