I made Christian Bale the star he is today.
That’s not bragging or posturing. People who know me, know that I’ve been a painfully modest man – to the detriment of my own career. But my accomplishments with Christian Bale’s profession are documented, and I have the metrics and milestones to chronicle his journey from child actor to Internet sensation to the Dark Knight.
I worked for Bale for almost a decade as his publicist, personal assistant and marketer. I used Internet marketing to turn his movies into hits on video, and to make him the first star of the Internet in the 1990s. That unusual position in a new medium led him to win casting wars to secure key roles like American Psycho and Batman Begins. It gave him editorial coverage and provided re-assuring numbers to hesitant producers who would otherwise pass on an up and coming actor with no box office track record.
My book’s journey has had its own speed bumps. When I moved from Los Angeles to Austin, I was determined to write a book about my Hollywood experiences. I joined the WLT, found a literary agent at the Agents’ Conference, and immediately landed a series of meetings with a big publisher who asked me to re-write my biography a couple different ways.
First of all, I was told, the YA market was hot. Why not re-write the biography as a YA novel? At that time, I was told by many publishers that Christian Bale’s name wasn’t big enough to merit a biography of his own.
So I juggled the day job with the night time glow of the computer monitor to crank out a YA version of the book in six months. That novel won Honorable Mention with the Writers’ Guild competition, but my would-be publisher was still unimpressed.
Why not, she asked, re-write it as a fictional memoir?
Again, I plowed away for half a year and crafted a memoir, thinly veiled about my move from Canada to Los Angeles to work on Christian’s career. It was touching, a lot more personal and cathartic than I thought it’d be – but again, the publisher was unmoved.
Why not, she asked, re-write it as a YA novel, but told from an African-American teen girl’s point of view? That’s a very hot market, she advised.
I got to the point of picking up a pile of Seventeen magazines, ready to begin my research into the mind of a teenage girl when I just thought back to the very first principle of writing: Write what you know. I passed on the YA re-re-write.
As luck would have it, in the summer of 2008, Christian had an infamous run-in with the British police when he allegedly assaulted his mother and his sister the night before the London premiere of The Dark Knight. The next day, I had a TV crew on my front lawn and the phone ringing off the hook.
Six months later, coincidentally on Christian’s birthday, January 30, someone leaked the notorious four minute recording of Christian lividly screaming at the director of photography on the set of Terminator Salvation.
Suddenly there was interest in my Bale biography again.
This time, after years of re-writes, I decided to merge three central ideas together. Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman (my publisher chose the title) is of course the biography of Christian Bale. It’s specifically about how a child actor made his way from England to Hollywood, with a very determined showbiz father pushing him all the way. It’s also my story – how I started as a letter-writing fan in Toronto, Canada, and ended up being asked to relocate to Los Angeles to work on Christian’s career. And it’s a history of Internet marketing in the entertainment industry. In Hollywood, they talk about “buzz” and building “word of mouth” – we call it social media marketing now.
If you’re a movie buff, a Balehead, or a celebrity biography reader, I hope you’ll enjoy this look about what you need to make it in Hollywood – various parts of talent, determination, and luck.
Writers’ League of Texas member, Harrison Cheung, will release his first book ‘Christian Bale: The Inside Story of the Darkest Batman’ on May 29th. Harrison will be signing books on May 17th at the WLT’s Third Thursday Program at BookPeople in Austin, Texas. He’ll be at Barnes & Noble in Dallas (Lincoln Park Mall) on May 29th from 7PM, and then he’ll be signing at the SmartPop booth in Comic-Con, San Diego, California on July 13-14.