Cleveland native Travis Beacham is writer for summer blockbuster
by DELANEY WALKER, Banner Staff Writer
Jul 10, 2013 | 3654 views | 0 0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Penning ‘Pacific Rim’
TRAVIS BEACHAM, Cleveland native and writer of “Pacific Rim,” stands in the Jaeger’s cockpit, one of the larger-than-life robots featured in the summer blockbuster hitting theaters Friday.
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Summer blockbusters present a larger-than-life story on the silver screen.

Fantastical beasts emerge, cars explode, gravity is denied — all while the world is once again being saved from perilous jeopardy.

Most see the closing scene as the end of the pulse-pounding good times, but not Bryan and Joy Beacham.

The biggest thrill remains: seeing their son, Cleveland native Travis Beacham, listed in the writing credits for his movies.

Bryan said he gets goosebumps when he sees the credits.

Added Joy, “When the poster [for the major motion picture “Pacific Rim”] first came out, I would just take pictures of his name.”

A trailer for the adrenaline-pumping film shows the audience an Earth being ravaged by monsters from the deep sea. As the voiceover said, “In order to fight monsters, we created monsters of our own.”

Travis originally thought of the idea for the summer blockbuster “Pacific Rim” while walking along the California coast. The morning was foggy and creating a mist across the Santa Monica waters. Through the fog Travis’ imagination created, “A towering robot waiting in the misty surf to do battle with some sinister beast rising from the depths.”

The idea was good, but there was no story to pitch. Where was the human element? The audience needed a reason to be invested in the story.

Then Travis realized, “It took two neurally connected pilots to drive the giant robots. ... It placed relationships at the center of the action. It gave the spectacle personal stakes for the characters.”

He had his pitch. Legendary Pictures picked up on the story and the behind the scenes preproduction — casting, adapting the story for the screen, attracting a director (Guillermo del Toro), etc. — began. And continued. And continued some more.

It was more than several years from the foggy morning walk before viewers clicked play on the first “Pacific Rim” trailer.

“Friends say it feels like it has been coming out forever,” Joy said. “But that is because they’ve been hearing about it from the beginning.”

Both proud parents have been working hard to alert friends and family of the upcoming movie.

“We are trying to spread the word to everyone we can think of,” Bryan said. “To everyone we know on Facebook.”

Explained Joy, “We are doing PR.”

“We are trying to spread the word the best we can,” Bryan continued. “One night, we were at Gabriel’s and I asked the waiter if he went to the movies. I launched into the spiel about ‘Pacific Rim’ and he seemed pretty excited.”

Friends have asked Bryan and Joy whether there will be a hometown premiere. The two have agreed it is a great idea, but they will be in California by the time the movie comes out, having already attended the official premiere on July 9.

Grassroots support for Travis’ movie has grown as the release date draws closer. Friends of the Beachams have made their appreciation for the film known by cheering for the “Pacific Rim” trailer.

Autumn O’Bryan, CHS principal, reminded her students of the upcoming date on Twitter:

“Save the Date #raidernation! Next Friday is the premiere of #PacificRim written by CHS alum @travisbeacham #checkit out #RaiderPride.”

It was in Cleveland that Travis first began to write. When asked how growing up in a small town influenced his writing, he said he was not entirely sure.

“I think I had to find creative ways to entertain myself,” Travis said. “I was always inventing other worlds in one way or another. I was comfortable with my imagination at a very early age.”

As his creativity grew, so did his writing talent. High school was a time for expanding his horizons. School found him penning plays alongside writing for the CHS newspaper. Later, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts gave Beacham the platform to sell his first spec script, “Killing on Carnival Row,” and move out to California.

Joy said Travis could often be found rifling through comics at the local Collector’s Choice.

“He loved that store,” Joy recalled. “He would go there while I was getting my hair cut.”

Now stores across the county are displaying a comic book written by Travis and illustrated by several top-talent artists.

“Pacific Rim: Tales From Year Zero,” is a prequel to the movie. The graphic novel is not paramount to understanding the film. However, this has not stopped eager fans from purchasing Travis’ first effort. The book has already topped The New York Times’ Best Sellers list for Hardcover Graphic Books.

Joy reflected how bizarre the change is in her son’s life. “He lived at Collector’s Choice, and now he has a [graphic book] of his own.”

Travis gave in to a little reflection of his own. He described the opportunity to see one of his stories on the silver screen as incredible.

“It’s rare nowadays that you see a giant summer movie that isn’t based on a video game or a comic book or a theme park ride,” Travis said. “I feel like ‘Pacific Rim’ demonstrates that there are still brand-new worlds and characters for moviegoers to discover.”

Despite some of the first draft’s details being changed somewhat, “The broader trajectory and the soul of it are exactly what I’d (Travis) always hoped.”

He did not want to show an Earth dying out. Travis’ goal was to highlight the extraordinary solutions created to combat extraordinary disasters.

According to Travis, there seems to be a lot of resignation to the end times in today’s world.

“People seem infatuated with the idea that the world is falling apart, that we’re doomed somehow. I don’t identify with that at all,” Travis explained. “We’ve walked on the Moon. We’ve eradicated smallpox. I see no reason why we as a species should feel daunted by any obstacle.”

Continued Travis, “For all the hardship we face and any we can imagine, there’s nothing wrong with the world that can’t be fixed. And we need more stories that say so.”

“To paraphrase (essayist and novelist G.K.) Chesterton, we don’t tell stories about dragons to say that dragons exist. We tell them to say dragons can be slain.” 

The movie will hit theaters Friday. Those looking for a big summer budget blockbuster might just be surprised by what they carry away.

“... I never try to be preachy or judgemental, but I’d certainly rather a story say something than not,” Travis said. “My philosophy is that even a popcorn movie can contain human truths.”