“Chasing that elusive ‘Hollywood Dream’ is something I have possibly placed too much emphasis on over the past fifteen years”, says Jayson Sutcliffe, of the career that never happened.
The world champion roller-skater from Melbourne has done the hard yards, both on and off his skates. As a teen, he struggled with sexual abuse by his coach, a secret he chose to keep for almost twenty years, and struggled with the untimely suicide of his older brother just weeks before a world championship event.
His story is remarkable and has all the makings of a Strictly Ballroom on wheels. Sutcliffe is Australia’s first and only male world champion roller-skater, but the reality is, a foot in the Hollywood door doesn’t come as simply as winning a world title.
“I’ve been to L.A. a few times. I’ve done the meetings with producers. I’ve had the knock backs, the promises and the lies. It felt like I was being sucked into the machine and I was lapping it up, but ended up being churned out the other end. There are no medals.”
Sutcliffe’s long journey took an unexpected turn just under a month ago when he was approached by TaleFlick in L.A. to enter his autobiography, Rolaboi, Renagade Skater, in the ‘Discovery, Book to Film’ competition.
“I was kind of sceptical at first. But I figured I had nothing to lose and realised if any door was going to open, this could be an opportunity to do so.”
Entering the competition was no mistake at all – after the fiercely contested three-day event, with forty other entries, Sutcliffe’s book was crowned winner.
“TaleFlick has opened a door that I thought had been closed and will be the beginning to a career that I believed had ended.”
Part of the winning prize was an exclusive interview with TaleFlick CEO and Passage Pictures President, Uri Singer. “The meeting was engaging but swift,” recalls Sutcliffe. But the enthusiasm shown by Singer was infectious and left Jayson with a renewed sense of hope that the big dream was still alive.
Less than twenty-four hours later, Singer had come good with his promise of speaking to his contacts and introduced Sutcliffe to Hollywood mogul, Caspar von Winterfeldt, with the offer to option not only his book, but also a pilot script for the drama series he has written.
“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I opened my email and got the call,” says Sutcliffe. “I was already running late for work and then this happened. Firstly, I prayed I wasn’t dreaming and secondly, I only hoped this guy was legit.”
Legit he is. Winterfeldt, and his company Fortune Films, known for Men in Black 3, World War Z and The Adventures of Tin Tin, came to the call with genuine interest and signed Sutcliffe’s original projects almost overnight.
“This kind of stuff just doesn’t happen to everyday kind of guys like me. You only read about it,” says Sutcliffe.
Fortune Films now owns the option on both projects based on and inspired by life events of Sutcliffe’s career and he is hopeful and confident of them both finding a green light while in the hands of such a capable team.
“Without TaleFlick and Uri, this couldn’t be possible. I’d given up believing I could get my foot in the door in L.A., even after making headlines in 2011 for rolling the red carpet at the Sydney Film Festival for my own documentary Rollerboy. I just couldn’t find the gap.”
And just as the gap has widened, Sutcliffe believes the door will open for more and more writers from around the world via platforms that encourage writers to submit their stories; real stories that make a difference, that have a voice and need to be told.
“Sure, your chances increase ten-fold when you have an agent, a manager, a friend in the know, someone who will get a script in front of a producer, but that’s sometimes impossible and times are changing. Here’s hoping I’m proof of that. I’ve been striving for almost fifteen years to get over the line and I’m almost there.”
Sutcliffe’s book Rolaboi, and series drama The Rink, will now face the music in the development phase. Only time will tell if the Australian proves to be on a roll.