Rosenerg left Cal Poly in 2010 to become a full-time screenwriter. Currently, he has two movies in production.

Former Cal Poly mechanical engineering and education technology professor Louis Rosenberg wrote the screenplay “UPGRADE,” which has been adapted into a graphic novel. The novel was released in June and announced at this year’s Comic-Con.

“UPGRADE” tells of a futuristic world where humans upgrade themselves. The people are driven to upgrade their lives not because the new technology is something they want, but because they don’t want to be left behind, Rosenberg said.  The people are upgrading and becoming less and less human, yet they have no other options, he said.

Steven Stern, president of Storyboard Graphic Novels, wrote the graphic novel adaptation. What attracted Stern to the story was the high concept it embodied, he said. The story is unusual, well executed and very timely, he said.

“It’s extremely cinematic and I knew it would make for a wonderful graphic novel,” Stern said.

Rosenberg called the story satirical, almost absurd. Fiction was something Rosenberg’s always been interested in, he said. While at Cal Poly, he took time off to write screenplays. The first screenplay he wrote generated a lot of interest so he got an agent and manager, he said.

“I decided to pursue writing full time because it was going so well,” he said. “And it’s a lot of fun.”

Rosenberg wrote the screenplay for “Paper Trail,” a film currently in production at Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, as well as “Mindplay,” also in production at Echo Lake Entertainment. Both screenplays were co-written with Joe Rosenbaum.

Rosenberg’s background is very much in technology, beginning with his doctorate in robotics from Stanford University. Rosenberg had a joint appointment with the College of Engineering and the School of Education for six years while at Cal Poly before leaving in 2010.

He spent a lot of his time talking about the impact of technology on society, he said. What always struck Rosenberg was how engineers and scientists create “cool new things” because it’s exciting for them, but not necessarily for people or society as a whole, he said.

“Having a technology background gives inspiration for sci-fi and a real sense of what it’s like in high-tech labs, as well as a good sense of what the future might be like,” Rosenberg said.

The process of adapting any script begins with a graphic novel adaptation, Stern said. Stern starts with the screenplay then personally writes the graphic novel script. Once the author approves the script, the next step is to attach an artist to the project, Stern said. Stan Timmons was approved by Rosenberg to illustrate the comic, Stern said.

Illustrating a graphic novel takes some back-and-forth between the artist and author, Rosenberg said. The author makes sure the artist is getting the tone right and understanding what’s intended, he said.

“The artists are amazingly skilled and have to be really fast,” Rosenberg said.

According to Stern, it’s difficult to determine how a project will be received. However, with the right publicity, “UPGRADE” could be very popular both as a graphic novel and a film, he said.

Agriculture engineering junior Dan Schricker, said “UPGRADE” sounded interesting, and if he has time, he might give it a look.

In 1987, Stern created the comic book “Zen the Intergalactic Ninja,” where he celebrated the novel’s 25th anniversary at Comic-Con.

In addition to writing “Zen,” Stern has also written more literary graphic novels such as “Beowulf”, published in 2007 by Markoisa Enterprises, Ltd., a British publishing company. This year, that same company published Stern’s graphic novel “A Christmas Carol,” based on the Dickens’ classic.

“The whole graphic novel field also includes literary works,” Stern said.

Stern said he established Storyboard Graphic Novels in March 2011 as a service to screenwriters, directors and producers with screenplays they want to move forward with. People contact the company and discuss what it takes to adapt a screenplay into a graphic novel. Rosenberg went through this process and decided he wanted to move ahead.

Stern graduated from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s degree in English, he said. He said he was interested in comics as a young boy and knew early on he wanted to be involved with the industry. He said majoring in English not only refined his writing skills, but also exposed him to the world’s great literature.

While at school, he took an intensive Shakespeare class which taught him the importance of dramatic structure, he said.

“If you are going to be successful, you better know about dramatic structure,” Stern said. “I doubt I would be where I’m at today if I hadn’t done that.”

Rosenberg’s advice for writers? It’s just about writing. He said to keep writing about things that you’re excited about, because you’re going to be writing about it for a long time. Screenplay writing is interesting, he said, because it’s smaller than a novel so you think it’d go faster. However, he said a lot of people get involved so you end up rewriting and rewriting. Rosenberg said you wind up writing a draft for the agent, producer and director.

“If you’re gonna write something, be excited about the material,” he said.

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