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Former Clinton Township employee writes book in Hollywood

By: Nick Mordowanec | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published March 26, 2018

 Charles Dewandeler moved to California to be part of the entertainment business.

Charles Dewandeler moved to California to be part of the entertainment business.

Photo provided by Charles Dewandeler

 “Black Ice” is a cautionary tale for drivers, especially those in high school and college.

“Black Ice” is a cautionary tale for drivers, especially those in high school and college.

Photo provided by Charles Dewandeler

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Charles Dewandeler wanted to experience the “big time,” so at the age of 26, he packed his belongings and made his way to sunny Los Angeles, California.

The former Clinton Township resident, now 36, released a book titled “Black Ice” late last year. The fictional, yet cautionary, tale is meant to invoke fear in the minds of younger drivers.

Dewandeler has roots in southeast Michigan. He grew up in the township and graduated from Chippewa Valley High School. While in the process of completing a course at Specs Howard School of Media Arts in Southfield, he began working at Clinton Township Television — a job he called home for nearly seven years.

Joe Peruzzi, former township assistant director of cable TV and communications, said Dewandeler was a valuable community video producer.

“His training at Specs Howard and degree from Wayne State combined technical expertise with social insights in all his productions that ranged from a comparison of religions around the world to classic car coverage at the annual Gratiot Cruise,” Peruzzi said.

In his final two years on the job, he transferred Macomb Community College credits to Wayne State University, where he majored in media arts and studies, and minored in film studies. Prior to New Year’s Eve 2008, he made the life-changing move.

“I wanted to work in TV and film. Not a small cable station, but shows that would be nationwide or worldwide,” Dewandeler said. 

Currently working as a freelance editor, he has gotten his feet wet in Hollywood the past decade. He has worked on sizzle reels — short pitches to TV networks when pilot money is scarce — and has edited material, such as the stand-up comedy show “Martin Lawrence Presents: 1st Amendment Stand Up.”

“Black Ice” is nothing new, technically. The book was originally a movie screenplay he wrote before moving to L.A., but no agent in Hollywood would bite.

“To get an agent, you have to be a famous writer, have name recognition,” he said. “Or you need to have friends at the agency, like a referral or whatever. I didn’t have any of those.”

After focusing on other projects — he has written 11 screenplays in total, including nine by himself — he said friends convinced him to revisit the “Black Ice” project. They usually offer constructive criticism on his work, and many wondered what happened to the old screenplay.

“Of my 11 screenplays I’ve written, there’s something about ‘Black Ice’ that people think has the most potential. Of the people who read my scripts, ‘Black Ice’ seems to have something sticking in their heads. So, I thought, maybe I should just write it as a book.”

He said he got the idea for the book — essentially a warning to younger drivers while out on the road — from watching movies in his youth. He wanted “Black Ice” to make drivers afraid of roads, just like “Jaws” made beachgoers afraid of the ocean, or how “Psycho” gave some people hesitation to jump in the shower.

Dewandeler said that ever since he started taking driver’s education courses, he loathed driving. He never understood the appeal, nor did he empathize with his friends’ fanaticism about getting behind the wheel. The book aims to present the dichotomy between safe driving and franchises like “Fast & Furious,” which some might say encourage individuals to step on the gas pedal a little harder.

“If you’re old enough to take a driver’s ed course, then this is made for you,” he said.

The book was self-published through, with Dewandeler hoping to gain a type of cult following for the literary work — one that focuses on the supernatural and, in a way, is a new generation’s version of “Final Destination.”

“I think what got me to be better is practice. … What makes you a writer is to keep writing and writing and writing until you can make a living out of it,” he said, before adding, “You’ve got to start small and work your way up.”