From Reddit to watch it: Des Moines resident sparks Hollywood film
James Erwin poses as the main characters of the story he authored on the pages of Reddit.
Des Moines resident James Erwin (above) has reason to believe you should never underestimate what you can do with your lunch hour. Last August, Erwin discovered just that after responding to a post on Reddit, a popular social news site.
Erwin's story – one that's currently making its way around the web – is told in detail in this month's issue of Wired (above). Titled "How One Response to a Reddit Query Became a Big Budget Flick," the 4,300-word feature includes studio shots of Erwin dressed for the part along with the full text of "the post that started it all."
Erwin joined Reddit in April 2011 as the user Prufrock451, and on that fateful day in August, Wired's Jason Fagone reports, he was only looking for ways to boost his Reddit karma – points earned when a Reddit user votes up another Reddit user's submission or comment. Erwin came across a comment by the user The_Quiet_Earth and was drawn in by its question, "Could I destroy the entire Roman Empire during the reign of Augustus if I traveled back in time with a modern U.S. Marine infantry battalion or (Marine Expeditionary Unit)?" With a degree in history from the University of Iowa and an extensive knowledge of military history in particular, Erwin couldn't help but think that the hypothetical comment by The_Quiet_Earth deserved some kind of a larger story.
After posting a 350-word response in 10 minutes, Erwin told Wired that "his fingers and stomach began to tingle, a feeling he had gotten only a few times before, when he knew that what he was writing was very good." So good, in fact, that an unexpected series of events led him to take a leave from his job two months later.
Wired recounts the episode:
[I]n response to The_Quiet_Earth’s question about time-traveling marines, Erwin started typing. He posted his answer in a series of comments in the thread. Within an hour, he was an online celebrity. Within three hours, a film producer had reached out to him. Within two weeks, he was offered a deal to write a movie based on his Reddit comments. Within two months, he had taken a leave from his job to become a full-time Hollywood screenwriter.
Amazingly enough, this is not the first time Erwin's uncanny ability to regurgitate facts has brought him to Hollywood. In 2009, Erwin won $23,598 as a two-time Jeopardy! champion. Despite this fame, however, Erwin has neither lost his Midwest charm nor his love of Reddit. Unfortunately, one downside to his new work is that he is no longer able to post any more of the story on Reddit for free. "I miss Reddit," he told Wired. "I miss Reddit so much."
Read the full story on Wired.com: "How One Response to a Reddit Query Became a Big Budget Flick".