Penpal Movie

In October 2011, James Erwin answered a Reddit post with a short story that scored him a production deal. Although the wheels are still turning on Rome Sweet Rome (as in, it hasn’t been made yet), another Redditor has scored a development deal by using the site to post up a short horror tale.

Daily Dot has the story of Dathan Auerbach, a philosophy teacher who earned a lot of fans after posting “Footsteps” to the site and earned even more when the success prompted him to post “Balloons” on the scary story subreddit called /nosleep. The second story won the monthly writing contest in October and propelled him to keep writing and posting. Of course, it’s also easy to see why his work became so popular because it’s damned effective.

“Reddit as a website gave me the opportunity to get my stories in front thousands and thousands of people,” said Auerbach. “But more importantly (and more meaningfully) the people on Reddit (specifically r/nosleep) are who encouraged me to keep going while also showing my stories to their friends.”

The writer was industrious enough to convert that internet fame into crowdfunding for his novel “Penpal,” earning him 10 times what he was asking for ($16,000) and a development deal with Oscar-winning producer Rich Middlemas (Undefeated). Even keeping in mind that nothing has come to fruition from these deals yet, it’s only a matter of time before they produce a finished product. It might even be Penpal. The one clear thing is that there are producers out there looking for great storytellers, and sites like Reddit have given them a new way to find audience-proven writers with something to say. It’s pretty amazing, and it’s exciting to think where it could lead next.


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