Sci-fi author Williams F. Nolan to appear at Olympia Film Festival events

Sci-fi author William F. Nolan, who co-wrote the novel ‘Logan’s Run,’ will appear at several Olympia Film Festival events

Contributing writerNovember 15, 2013 

“Logan’s Run” has had a long, influential run.

The dystopian sci-fi classic, screening Saturday at the Olympia Film Festival, has had a remake in the work for years. And the influence of both the 1967 novel and the 1976 film has been wide and deep.

The plot revolves around a society where resources and population are managed by killing everyone who reaches a certain age (21 in the book, 30 in the film). Those who try to escape execution (Runners) are pursued by highly trained Sandmen whose job it is to kill.

“A lot of people have used ‘Logan’s Run’ as a model,” said William F. Nolan, the novel’s co-author, who will be in Olympia this weekend to speak at the festival. “There are a lot of ‘Logan’s Run’-type films that have been made since it came out.

“You can’t call ‘The Hunger Games’ a ‘Logan’s Run’ rip-off,” he said. “It has its own milieu. But I don’t think there would be a ‘Hunger Games’ without ‘Logan’s Run.’”

Though it got a mixed reception from critics, the film won an Academy Award for its special effects.

“When ‘Logan’s Run’ came out, there was no ‘Star Wars’; there was no ‘Star Trek’; there was no ‘Indiana Jones,’” said Nolan, who lives in Vancouver, Wash. “It was the sci-fi picture of its generation. All of the others before it had been low budget.

“MGM paid us $100,000 for the book rights. That was the most up to that time they had paid for a science-fiction property. It was equivalent to about a million dollars today.”

“Logan’s Run” was the first novel for both Nolan and coauthor George Clayton Johnson.

“We got together and put a lot of ideas down on a series of cards,” Nolan said. “Then it took us two years to get back together on it.

“We put it together in 21 days, running with Logan, as it were. We felt it had to have a very fast pace.”

The novice authors had no idea of the lasting impact their creation would have.

“We just were writing a novel,” Nolan said. “We thought it was unique and had some good ideas, but you never have any expectations of something becoming a cult favorite and an iconic piece of work.”

On Saturday, the author will speak at a screening of the film and then meet fans at a reception.

“We love highlighting filmmakers who are in our region,” festival director Lisa Hurwitz said. “We’re really excited to screen ‘Logan’s Run.’ It’s been a long time since some of us have seen it, so it should be a lot of fun.”

The screening is the centerpiece of a weekend of events focused on the author. He will answer questions after a screening of “The AckerMonster Chronicles,” a documentary about his friend Forrest J. Ackerman, who as a publisher, promoter and fan helped to create the world of sci-fi. (Ackerman even came up with that name.) On Thursday, Nolan spoke at a screening of “Burnt Offerings,” the 1976 horror film for which he wrote the screenplay.

“Logan’s Run” is Nolan’s most enduring accomplishment in a career that includes fiction and nonfiction books, stories, poetry, articles and screenplays.

The film, starring Michael York, is part of that legacy, but the screenplay, by David Zelag Goodman, takes little more than the basic premise from the novel.

Nolan said he had no say in the film. “I thought it was filled with inaccuracies and flawed logic,” he said. “It was a fun popcorn movie.”

Asked what he wished filmmakers would have done differently, he said: “Oh, gosh, it would take another interview and an hour’s discussion to go into the things I thought they should have done.”

Chief among his issues, though, is that the film drops the novel’s subtext: “You can’t have a world with just young people,” he said. “You have to have middle-aged and older people. You have to have balance.”

He will be a consultant to the remake, which has been in the works off and on since 1994.

“At the moment, it’s kind of in limbo,” he said. “There’s a new script being written. They’ve got a producer and a studio. They need a director and a cast.

“It’s not dead, but it’s in a comatose state.”

Nolan isn’t waiting around for the film. He’s busy writing and attending sci-fi conventions, where he’s a popular guest speaker.

His next book, “Like a Dead Man Walking and Other Shadow Tales,” is due out in April from Centipede Press.

“‘Like a Dead Man Walking’ will be my 90th book, and I’m working on another 10 to bring it up to 100,” he said. “I’ll be 86 next year, but I haven’t slowed down.” KIDS’ STUFF

Children’s programming at the 30th annual festival has been a big draw, festival director Lisa Hurwitz said.

“Saturday, we showed the anime film ‘Wolf Children,’ ” she said. “That was packed with families. And there were quite a few adults who were there without any children.”

Remaining children’s programs are:

n “Ernest and Celestine,” at 10 a.m. Saturday: The French animated film, dubbed in English, follows the adventures of a bear and a mouse who are best friends.

n The Best of the New York International Children’s Film Festival, at 10 a.m. Sunday: The program of 13 animated shorts was selected from the prestigious festival. Olympia Film Festival

When: The festival continues through Sunday.

Where: Capitol Theater, 206 Fifth Ave. SE, Olympia

Tickets: For regular screenings, $10 general admission, $7 for Olympia Film Society members, $4 for children 12 and younger

More information: WILLIAM NOLAN

What: Acclaimed writer William F. Nolan, best-known for co-authoring the sci-fi classic “Logan’s Run,” is making a series of guest appearances during the festival’s final weekend.

“The AckerMonster Chronicles”

What: The documentary tells the story of Forrest J. Ackerman, creator of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and of the term “sci-fi.” Nolan, a longtime friend of Ackerman, and filmmakers Jason and Sunni Brock will do a Q&A after the screening.

When: 3 p.m. Friday

“Logan’s Run”

What: The sci-fi classic film, based on the book by Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, depicts a society that prevents overpopulation by killing its citizens when they reach the age of 30. Nolan will do a Q&A after the screening.

When: 2:15 p.m. Saturday

Backlot at the Backroom with Nolan

What: Enjoy wine and hors d’oeuvres with Nolan. The event is limited to 25 guests.

When: 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: Trinacria Restaurant, 113 Capitol Way N., Olympia; enter through the back door.

Tickets: $30; open only to those 21 and older

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