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'Payday' makers juggle video game sequels, film, Web series

By Ryan Faughnder

6:09 PM CDT, June 8, 2013

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The people behind the "Payday" video game franchise have a lot going on.

They're making a movie based on "Payday: The Heist," the 2011 cult hit video game, for 2014. The game's sequel is coming out in August, and they're now working on the third installment. Plus there's a Web series.

Video games as source material for films is not new. What's different about these projects is that the video game makers and the filmmakers are working together throughout the process.

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Juggling all those projects means taking multiple angles on the same intellectual property and thinking in ways filmmakers typically haven't, said Greg O'Connor, producer of the upcoming "Payday: The Heist" film.

"It's exciting not to think of a movie as just a movie," he said Saturday in a presentation at the Produced By Conference at 20th Century Fox Studios in Los Angeles. "There are a lot of directors who don't care about interfacing with the game developers. A lot of that's changing."

The "Payday" games follow four bank robbers who wear clown masks. For the movie, director Demian Lichtenstein adapted a story in which the heavily armed, masked robbers take on an evil bank.

Think Robin Hood meets Occupy Wall Street -- with way more firepower.

"I happen to love heist movies," Lichtenstein said. "Name a heist movie with masks that lost money. You can't."

The process of coming up with a script for the film illustrates a key difference between movies and games, Lichtenstein said. With movies, story comes first. With games, it's more about the experience of playing.

All the while, the filmmakers have made a point of staying true to the vision of the game's makers, brother Bo and Ulf Andersson, O'Connor said. "We want to make sure whatever we do is living up to the IP that they created."

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Twitter: @rfaughnder | ryan.faughnder@latimes.com

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