Kelowna writer earns Netflix deal
Nicholas Johansen - Jun 07, 2021 - People in Business

Photo: The Canadian Press

A man who grew up in Kelowna has signed a deal with Netflix to produce a movie based off a story he recently wrote on Reddit.

After graduating from Kelowna Christian School in 2011, 28-year-old Marcus Kliewer has been working semi-professionally as a stop-motion animator in the Lower Mainland. But like many others, his work slowed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Kliewer found himself with plenty of free time once he started receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

“I should use this time to really hone what I want to do, because writing is the thing that I’ve always enjoyed the most,” Kliewer told Castanet.

“I just started writing every single day, seven days a week, which I don’t recommend even to aspiring writers, but I had nothing else going on and it was COVID so I was super isolated.”

Kliewer has been writing on and off since his high school days in Kelowna. He stopped writing for about four years while he pursued his animation career, but the pandemic brought him back to his main passion: writing.

He began writing stories on Reddit’s r/nosleep page, where users write their scary stories one part at a time, giving readers a chance to provide feedback and theories on the fly. Last summer, another Reddit user sold their story to Netflix after it gained popularity on Reddit.

“Their story of selling the other one a year ago was kind of what inspired me to start writing on Reddit again,” Kliewer said. “In the very back corner of my mind I thought, wouldn’t it be funny if these guys reached out. Like a one-in-a-billion shot in my mind, and then that’s actually what happened. When it happened, I thought I was being pranked.”

While he had the story “pretty meticulously” planned from the start, he says posting it piece by piece on Reddit provides a unique publishing experience.

“It’s really nice on Reddit just getting immediate feedback from fans, and people theorizing and people freaking out when something happens to a certain character; it’s really rewarding,” he said.

After his stories began gaining popularity on Reddit, producers reached out to Kliewar about selling one of his stories. And last week, he signed a deal with Netflix, allowing them to produce a film based off his story We Used to Live Here.

Trade publication Deadline reports Blake Lively is set to star in the Netflix adaptation. The online magazine says the screen rights deal was in the six figures.

“Having this will give me a lot of breathing space and give me more time to keep doing writing, which is great,” Kliewar said. The story is also currently being shopped around to book publishers.”

Those looking for a spook can check out the first part of We Used to Live Here on Reddit.

All People in Business Stories