Several years ago I self-published a historical horror farce, in large part because “historical horror farce” is kind of a ridiculous category that no publisher really knew what to do with. It’s called A Night of Blacker Darkness, and mostly just to pitch it to people as An Extremely Ridiculous Horror Novel. The basic premise is this: in England in 1817 a young banker is jailed for fraud, and escapes by faking his death, but when he emerges from his coffin to try to steal an inheritance, somebody sees him and assumes he’s a vampire. Hilarity, as they say, ensues. The book has sold okay, nothing amazing because I don’t really promote it much, but I’ve spent the last few months adapting it for stage and I’m excited to announce that we will be debuting a play of A Night of Blacker Darkness this very Halloween, with one production in Utah and one in Tennessee. More details in this awesome video:
Dear English speakers: sorry, this post isn’t for you. Because I’m going to Argentina in May!
Espero que ustedes pueden entender mi espanol–estoy practicando para que pueda hablar bien cuando llego a Buenos Aires en Mayo, pero todavia necesito hacerlo mas perfecto. Aun asi, ma da mucho gusto a contestar estas preguntas, los cuales vienen del grupo de Facebook Saga Partials:
Another behind-the-scenes video! People have been asking a lot about the monster–how will the movie portray him, how will we do the effects–so while I was up in Minnesota I took the opportunity to interview Todd Jones, an absolute giant in the industry of movie creatures and effects. The lighting is terrible, and partway through a cell phone rings, but that’s just part of the charm of recording in a hotel ballroom movie-production headquarters. (Also, for continuity purposes: remember Jakk, from the last video? She’s just off-camera in this one, and at one point you can hear her laughing. We’re all a big happy family.)
I’m on the set of the IANASK movie, and getting flooded with requests for more behind-the-scenes info, so here you go: Jakk is the Line Producer, which means she oversees the whole behind-the-scenes process. I was able to steal ten minutes of her time to ask a couple of questions about our movie, and movie making in general.
Ready for some more I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER casting news? Today we get to look at the two characters who really make up the heart and soul of the story: Kay and April.
Kay Crowley is a minor character, in some ways, but her role in the story is incredibly important. Lurking behind the surface is a love story, almost 50 years old, about a woman so wonderful she convinced a monster to give up everything and become human, to see our world with completely different, sympathetic eyes. Our Kay is Dee Noah, a wonderful local actor who captures that aspect perfectly, and she and Christopher Lloyd play off of each other like a pair of young lovers who wake up every day just thrilled to be with their best friend. Dee does a lot of theater; her imdb page only has two credits, because most of her work has been on stage instead of screen. What I really love about her is how well she knows Kay–she talks to the wardrobe department and the art department all the time about what, exactly, Kay’s clothes and home would look like; she’s become the resident expert, because she’s internalized the part so thoroughly.
(And no, don’t think that I missed the beautiful coincidence that our character who’s name is a letter is being played by an actress whose name is a letter. IT’S LIKE FATE IS WATCHING OUT FOR US.)
April Cleaver is John’s mom, and next to John she is by far my favorite character in the series. I didn’t intend for her to be so important at the beginning–in the first draft of the novel she was just there, more of an obstacle than anything–but as I revised the story and honed in on the key features and emotions, her role just kept getting bigger. Nobody in the world loves John as much as April, and even though she’s not always good at being a mom she is always trying her best, with her heart on her sleeve, doing everything she can think of to help her son in any way she can. Our casting for April leaked early, and a lot of you knew who it was even before I did, but it’s now official and confirmed and I’m delighted to report that April Cleaver will be played by Laura Fraser. You are most likely to know her from one of three places: as Door in Neverwhere, as the blacksmith in A Knight’s Tale, and most recently as Lydia in Breaking Bad. I haven’t met her yet, because we haven’t gotten to her scenes in the schedule, but I’m a big fan of her work, and her wonderful mix of strength and frailty–she excels at playing women who plow ahead, in the face of all odds, even knowing that doing so could kill her. She’s going to be a wonderful mother to John, and she even looks like she could be related to Max Records. I can’t wait to see what she does with the role.
There are still a handful of big roles left to announce, and one of them in particular hasn’t even been cast yet–Dr. Neblin, the therapist, is down to two actors, and Billy is skyping with them this weekend to do a final interview. They’re both awesome, and I don’t envy him being forced to choose. As soon as I can, though, I’ll let you know who we got.
I’ve been talking about this movie for years, and talking EVEN MORE about that over the last several months, ever since we secured real funding. What I have not been able to talk about is the cast, because up until the point where everything was absolutely final, there was still the possibility that it might change. Well, now it’s final. Let’s talk about the cast.
We sold the option and started working on the movie about five years ago, and while I am not actually, technically involved in the film, I’ve become very good friends over the years with Billy, the director, and we consult with each other all the time. About this same time I saw the movie “Where the Wild Things Are,” and instantly thought that the kid in it would be a perfect John Cleaver. He was young, but I knew it would be a few years before we filmed, and I loved the way he was able to express such incredible loneliness. I called Billy and told him I’d found our John Cleaver, and he said he’d look into it. Before he even had a chance, though, one of our producers called Billy as well, and said “I just finished a project with a kid who’d be perfect for that movie you’re working on!” That kid was…the same kid. The producer and I, independent of each other, had both cast our dream John Cleaver, and both of them were Max Records. Billy met him and agreed with us, and for five years now Max and his parents have been on board, uncontracted but planning on it. Max has read all the books, he knows the character inside and out, and now that he’s all grown up he looks the part perfectly. We couldn’t be happier with our John Cleaver.
Mr. Crowley was much harder to line up, and that ties back to the five years we were trying to get funding. Take a script to Hollywood where the two leads are 15 and 75 years old, and they will laugh in your face. Nobody in either age group is a “star,” as defined by the kind of people who give money to movies. The movie Gravity, for example, languished for years, completely unable to get made, because even Sandra Bullock doesn’t count as a “star” either. Finally George Clooney, who was a big supporter of the film, stepped in and attached his own name to it, and it didn’t matter that it was a minor role–as soon as it became a George Clooney movie, it got paid for almost instantly, because now there was a “star.” Our movie doesn’t have a role for George Clooney, so standard Hollywood wisdom is that it will not make any money and we shouldn’t even bother.
We bothered anyway, and managed to get funding from outside of Hollywood altogether. Once that was lined up, we were able to pay a Crowley actor what he was worth, and we set our sights on a long, long list of actors. You can’t name an old man actor we didn’t have on our list–we were thorough and exhaustive, and in the end it didn’t even matter because we were able to get our pipe dream actor from right at the top. Our Mr. Crowley is Christopher Lloyd, and we couldn’t be happier. Lloyd has done a lot of amazing stuff in his career, he can do happy and simple and vicious and evil and sad, sometimes all at once, and we think he’ll be perfect for Crowley. The role that really got me excited about him, though, was Reverend Jim from Taxi–not that Crowley is anything like Jim, but because it’s such a fantastically minimal performance. Lloyd played that entire role with a single facial expression, and that’s the sign of an incredible actor. He’s playing Mr Crowley as friendly, kind, and gentlemanly, but with terrifying undercurrents of desperation and despair. It’s wonderful to watch.
Most of the rest of the cast is being drawn from local actors in the Minneapolis area, and they’re all wonderful, and I’ll tell you about them soon, but I had to get the two leads announced before I exploded with excitement. I’m on set for the next nine days, so I’ll be posting snippets and photos and videos as much as I can.
I hope you’re as excited as I am.
Many of you responded eagerly to the possibility of being extras in the I AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER movie, and I’ve been forwarding all of your emails to our Background Coordinator, Michelle Nagell. Finally we just decided to cut out the middleman: if you want to be in the show, you can email her directly!
1) We can’t pay you. We’re a small indie production, and we’re not offering jobs–we’re offering the chance to be a part of a project you love as much as we do. You will have to provide your own travel, hotel, meals, etc.
2) We’re filming in Minnesota. Just outside Minneapolis, for the most part. If you can get there, awesome.
3) We don’t have a solid schedule yet. We realize this might make it impossible for some of you to plan far enough in advance, and I apologize. We’re working as fast as we can
Here’s a quick note from Michelle herself:
I would love to have you guys as extras on I Am Not A Serial Killer.
We don’t have the exact dates yet. Most of the filming will take place the month of March .
I know it is really important for Dan to have you guys on set and I will do my darnest to accommodate you so that happens! Filming can get tricky as time and days are subject to change with very little notice. I know many of you are traveling from a distance, so I’m open to keeping a dialogue over phone and email to keep you in the loop! If you are serious about coming please send a snap shot , email and phone number. Please put in the subject line IANASK so I can put you guys on my separate list . Feel free to ask questions! I look forward to seeing you on set !!!!!!! Thanks for your time!!!
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Voy a estar en Argentina este Mayo, para la Feria del Libro de Buenos Aires.
I announced the I Am Not A Serial Killer movie, and have since been flooded with questions. One them has a complicated answer:
“Can I be in your movie?”
I owe you a video or three, and you shall have them, but first: here’s my schedule for LTUE this weekend.
(LTUE is a SF/F convention in Utah, with tons of awesome authors and panelists. The acronym stands for “Life, the Universe, and Everything.”)
Philip K. Dick as an example of adaptation: Blake Casselman, Dan Wells, Oscar Bernie, Scott William Taylor, Scott R. Parkin (m)
(One of my favorite authors!)
E-Sports: The Next Big Spectator Sport: Natalie Whipple, Dan Wells, Joe Coleman, Craig Nybo, Steve Setzer (m)
(My new SF series, Mirador, uses esports a lot.)
Genre Mash-ups: Isn’t it all just fiction anyway?: S. A. Butler, Julie Frost, L.E. Modesitt Jr., Dan Wells, Suzanne Vincent (m)
(Most of my books fall into this category at some point or another.)
Beatrix Potter, and A. A. Milne – Fantasy for the Very Young: Mikey Brooks, Candace J. Thomas, Jaclyn Weist, Dan Wells, Steve Setzer (m)
AA Milne is one of my other favorite authors!
Drones: Dan Wells, Zachary Hill, Dan Willis (m)
(Mirador uses drones even more than esports.)
Kaffeeklatsch with Dan Wells
(Roll for initiative.)
Frank Herbert’s Dune – Of Religion, Ecology, and Substance Abuse: Dan Wells, Stephen Gashler, Paul Genesse, David Farland, Scott R. Parkin (m)
(My favorite book!)
Putting Technology Ramifications into your World Building: L.E. Modesitt Jr., Howard Tayler, Dan Wells
(This one sounds awesome.)