Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Freezer Burn: "A Notional Bestseller"

Richard Burges Smith (1962-2011) was a writer and creative director of digital media for trade shows, live events, and museum installations. After receiving a master's degree from the USC School of Cinema-Television, Smith sold his screenplay LOCK UP to Carolco Pictures. The script was rewritten (by Jeb Stuart and Henry Rosenbaum) and produced as the 1989 prison thriller starring Sylvester Stallone.

Although LOCK UP is the only feature film on which he is credited, Smith worked as a screenwriter for several years. In 1993 Danjaq hired Smith to develop stories for the James Bond series, and some of the ideas from that creative period ended up in the Pierce Brosnan films. In the article announcing Smith and (fellow USC graduate) John Cork's recruitment by Danjaq, the Variety journalist confused Smith with three other people in the industry, including TV movie producer Richard Smith and visual effects artist Richard Smith.

Smith's only novel, published in 2010, is the bizarre and hilarious Freezer Burn. It's the story of two brothers, hunting guides in Maine, who discover a refrigerator that functions as a portal to the Ice Age. When the brothers try to turn their strange luck into a hunting expedition business, giant Pleistocene animals -- dire wolves, saber-toothed cats and a brain-eating short-faced bear -- climb through the portal and into the present-day, wreaking havoc in a small town. The novel could be described as a cross between Jurassic Park and My Name is Earl, with Smith's wry narrative voice providing a unique flavor.

Smith died of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma at 48. His obituary can be found here.

Smith also managed a blog that features much of his excellent work for clients such as Cisco Systems and The History Channel.

-- Philip Poggiali

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