“Blade Runner” Meets “Westworld”

What do you get when a book publisher and a film producer start a company?

This isn’t a joke, folks. Will Evans, founder of Deep Vellum Publishing, and Dallas Sonnier, producer of the critically-acclaimed film Bone Tomahawk, teamed up last year to found Cinestate, an entertainment company in Dallas that combines book publishing, film production, and audio production.

Memorabilia from “Bone Tomahawk” (Photo by Chloe Pope-Levison)

The objective of the company is simple, but brilliant.

“The idea is that we will sign and publish books, but when we sign them we get the rights to the audio and the film adaptations as well,” Evans said. “We publish the book and we’ll do an audiobook, then we’ll turn it into a movie to continue to grow the audience.”

Cinestate’s unique business model has so far proved successful. The company already shot one movie that comes out this fall – Brawl in Cellblock 99, starring Vince Vaughn. Brawl in Cellblock 99 was written and directed by S. Craig Zahler, the same man who wrote and directed Bone Tomahawk. Sonnier was Zahler’s manager in Los Angeles, and the two teamed up to create Bone Tomahawk.

“Craig writes a lot and he’s got insane talent,” Evans said. “His star is just rising in the world as a writer, both for screen and books.”

Zahler wrote the script for two of Cinestate’s upcoming films – Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (a reboot of Full Moon’s 1989 Puppet Master) and Dragged Across Concrete. Zahler will also direct the latter film, which stars Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn.

Dragged Across Concrete is a very gritty, dark cop drama and that’s what Craig specializes in is gritty, dark stuff,” Evans said.

If you’re interested in becoming the next Craig Zahler, Cinestate accepts blind submissions through email at submissions@cinestate.com. However, aspiring screen writers and authors need to pitch the story quickly and in an intriguing manner. Authors also need to fit Cinestate’s genre, which Evans describes as “Blade Runner meets Westworld.”

“We’re looking for genre-based writing, so sci-fi, thriller, horror, dark fantasy, action, adventure, and true crime dark mysteries,” Evans said. “We want a smart story very well told with a very unique hook. We want something that’s never been done before.”

As Cinestate grows and expands, Evans wants to add more women writers and writers of color to the Cinestate portfolio.

“We are building something that is genre-based here, but it is still very important to us to have diverse voices,” Evans said. “Some of the best writers are neglected by others, because sexism and racism are real things. If we can look for those stories and seek them out aggressively, hopefully we can make connections between those authors and audiences that are just starving for amazing stories like that.”

Look for Brawl in Cellblock 99 coming out this fall, and in the meantime, Bone Tomahawk is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.



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