|To those of you who don't know what "Pastwatch" is... Get with the program! Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus is one of Orson Scott Card's best novels (and one of the only non-series novels he has written for a long time). It is also one of the freshest, most imaginative time travel stories every written by anybody.|
I just got into a mood last night, and decided to write the last quarter of the PASTWATCH screenplay. So it's done, at about 120 pages. Of course, once the producer and author read it, I'm sure there will be changes and corrections, but for now, it's a big load off my mind.
The pacing was the hardest part because the book is largely research and intellectual debate, which rarely plays well on the screen. The closest film ever comes to that is title scrolls and stump-speeching.
The original novel is about 2/3 research, and then 1/3 past-alterin' action. I had to change that fraction to about 1/4-3/4 to make it play. Now, this is about how the story goes:
Page 1 - Diko, Kemal, and Hunahpu have already planned the trip to the past. They just need to justify it to their mentors and fill the audience in on the barest details.
Page 28 - Diko arrives in Haiti, 1492. Unlike in the novel, she doesn't have months and months to prepare.
Page 56 - Diko meets Columbus and pisses him off.
Page 93 - The rape scene and Pinzon's mutiny.
Page 116 - Columbus and Diko's daughter weds the new Aztec emperor, joining their nations.
Page 120 - We briefly see through a gimmicky device that their plan worked and the future is brighter.
So anyway, for those of you who love spoilers and news briefs on Card movie projects, there you go.
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Actually, the sense of accomplishment is a bit hard to come by when you live alone in a new city and most of the people you know aren't in on how cool your job is I finished it last night, and since then, I don't think I've actually communicated in person with another human being ... I'm shooting a student film tomorrow, so I think I'll do some bragging then.
DOGWALKER is actually my next project, once I've wrapped up the polish on THE TOWER (a personal project of mine, a collaboration with a friend from my corporate-lackey days) and gotten some notes on PASTWATCH, I should be ready to start the serious work on Dee-Doubleya.
I've got an intro already, and I think it'll work no matter how I plot the story out. It's basically an introduction to my frame-story and an explanation of Goo Boy's character.
Unfortunately, DOGWALKER suffers from some of the same adaptation difficulties as PASTWATCH, though for different reasons. Most of the action goes off without a hitch. It's the exposition that's the really cool part. WOW, this kid can guess passwords, COOL, it's a world where people are horribly dehumanized, AW, what a sad way to punish Dogwalker. But the actual plot-moving part doesn't have a lot of complications. And since it's a short story, it's very focused on one or two things. The philosophy. The two main characters. That's it. I get to fill in the blanks. The world, the minor players, the technology, the rest of the action...
Which would be REALLY FUN, if I weren't so concerned with doing justice to such a great original work
So I'm writing down loads of notes, keeping the best stuff, and stringing together the story. Once I have a bunch of stuff, I'll let you know.
Oh, as far as marketing PASTWATCH goes, I have no idea. I'm just the hack they hired to write it The budget should be mid-range. It doesn't require a lot of amazing effects, but you've got two exploding ships, a holographic TruSite II, and some neat-o transitions ... Actors could be middle-tier. I personally don't know any top actresses who would fit Diko very well. Maybe get an aging '70s star to play Columbus ... Okay, I'm not making it sound very good Honestly, I know nothing about this stuff. As I said, I'm just the writer.
Geoffrey Card's father, Orson Scott Card, is one of the most famous science-fiction writers in the world. But few expected Geoff to follow in his dad's footsteps.
"Ever since I was 17 I was pretty sure I didn't want to write novels for a living," Card said in a phone interview from Orange, Calif., where he attends Chapman University School of Film and Television...
Card said he has ambitions to go the "Quentin Tarantino route -- write a script, then direct it." He does not plan on carving out a Mormon niche the way Dutcher has done. "My faith is not divorced from my work, but most stories I would tell would be about other things."
Yet, he thinks doing the Mormon novel will help his visibility in his field. "I don't think there is so much prejudice against religious work that people will freak out. 'God's Army' (the film) was very well received in Los Angeles. So I see having a published book under my belt helping me get an agent and attention."
Card, who spent most of his youth in North Carolina, attended BYU for two years. He's unsure when he will finish film school because he keeps tackling screenplay projects. Currently, he is busy adapting two of his father's stories -- "Pathwatch" [sic; i.e., "Pastwatch"] and "Dogwalker." He credits his father for teaching him how to write.
"My dad talks about storytelling and how it works all the time. He does a workshop called "One Thousand Ideas in an Hour" where he encourages his audience to build their own story. Good storytelling is asking the right questions and knowing when you have the right answers."
But despite a bit of talk about the project, nothing official has been announced, so don't hold your breath. Until things actually happen, here is some speculative casting:
Based on the novel by: Orson Scott Card
Screenplay adaptation by: Geoffrey Card
Produced by: Robert Chartoff
[This is what has already happened, so these lines are easy to fill in. At least I think Chartoff is the producer linked to "Pastwatch", as he's the one linked to "Ender's Game." I could be wrong.]
Hmmm... Orson Scott Card wants to direct someday. He's always directing plays. Geoffrey Card wants to direct someday. He's even a film school student. Great talents, both of them, but are we going to let these essentially untried talents helm a big feature film? Nah. Let's get somebody with more experience... Chris Heimerdinger has already directed a Meso-American documentary, and his entire writing career is based on time travel stories... He could probably handle "Pastwatch"... No, we're kidding of course... James Cameron? Yeah, right... Barbra Streisand? Not available...
Oh, I've got it! M. Night Shyamalan! OSC loved The Sixth Sense, and Shyamalan is known for realistic takes on fantastic, "speculative fiction" ideas. Shyamalan has proven he can audiences as well as critics. The only problem is that he apparently only directs screenplays that he wrote himself.
Alternative choice for director: Mimi Leder -- a very experienced director with a lot of heart and empathy, who did such a good job with Deep Impact and many other films.
Diko (young African historian, female): Heather Headley
Hunahpu (young Mayan historian, male): Jason De Hoyos
Kemal (Arab historian, devout Muslim, male):
Christopher Columbus (Italian navigator and explorer): Ed Harris
Pinzon (European sailor, mutinies against Columbus): Rick Schroder
My books don't abridge well, because I don't include extraneous material, period. If it's in the book, it's something that matters. So in order to cut a novel down to a screenplay-length story, a vast amount has to be left out. For instance, my son Geoffrey just finished a screen adaptation of my novel "Pastwatch". (He was hired by another producer to do the job.) I couldn't do that one myself. The story was too intense for me. I just read his finished product, and it's a terrific screenplay. But to do it he left out 90% of the the Columbus material and 75% of the time traveler material. It's the core of the story, the bare bones - but charmingly, then grippingly, then passionately told.