Thursday, 27 August 2009

This week's Norse musings

It's been a funny seven days. I started off doing very well. On Saturday, I decided to reboot an idea I had a while ago. As some of you will know, I'm a huge fan of the Classics (note the capital C meaning ancient times of Greeks and Romans). I've often considered setting a film in those times, maybe adapting Homer's The Odyssey or The Illiad. But both have been done fairly recently and it's practically impossible to do The Odyssey justice without having a 4 hour film.

So I turned my attentions to another interest of mine - Norse mythology. Most people have heard of Thor, Odin, Loki and several other Norse gods, but I think their stories are yet to be told through the world of film. So I got to work.

I read the Prose Edda online. If there was such a thing as a Norse bible, this would be it! It's not an easy read, but fortunately, once you've battled through some Old English texts, you manage. I soaked it up, making notes on everything that happened and what I thought it meant. Then I read Norse Myths: Gods of the Vikings by Kevin Crossley-Holland. For anyone interested in Norse mythology, I highly recommend his book - his writing style is poetic and he explains things clearly.

In truth, I think I'd decided before all this what story I would tell. But after reading, I was certain where to start. A quick overview for anyone unaware:

It's was prophesied that the death of Balder (Odin's son) would trigger Ragnarok (the final battle in which everyone dies and all worlds are destroyed). Loki (god of mischief) did his usual thing and stirred up trouble. He killed Balder. Ragnarok began.

Pretty basic stuff really. But as usual, the clever stuff comes in the how and why as opposed to the events themselves. Scholars have said different things about the death of Balder - what did it mean? Could it be avoided? Should it be? Who is really to blame for Ragnarok? I have my own theories, but they're secret! *

Anyway, this week I got to work planning the events leading up to Balder's death. It was easier than I thought - a case of writing what we are actually told then deciding what creative liberties to take. Add a lot of characterisation and theme and you've got a solid story.

I had originally planned to write the story in two parts. Part one would show the events leading up to Balder's death and the death itself. Part two would then detail the war that followed. But I was struggling to think of enough of a story for part two. After talking with Michelle, I decided to slam it all in one film. Granted it would come to over 3 hours, but I think it could work.

As things stand, I'm struggling. I'm trying to get everything in there and pad it all out without it seeming forced. I'm also adding a fair few original characters to give alternative perspectives on events.

I'm sure it will all click eventually but it's so hard to get my head around! After starting off so well, I've come to a grinding halt. It's frustrating but shit happens. I just need to keep attacking it and trust that I'll find my groove again.

When I'm writing and everything is working, I'm as happy as a Viking in Valhalla, but when things don't quite go as planned, it feels like I've been hit by the mighty Mjollnir! I'm sure you all know how I feel (using your own cocky metaphors).

Production-wise, it's not very practical. This is a story with frost giants, massive wolves, gods, huge landscapes, epic battles, a journey into Hel and a snake big enough to wrap itself round the world! Needless to say, a budget of millions would be needed.

I thought about computer animation. That would lower the cost but as it turns out, not considerably. One animation company I spoke to said this:
I would love to get involved in this; and as soon as I have 20 or 30 million pounds at my disposal I shall move forward on it.
But I'm not giving up. I'm still pursuing computer animation companies and if nothing comes of it, the worst case scenario is that I write it and use it as a calling card.

Anyway, I have tomorrow and Saturday to work on it because from Monday, I'll be carrying on with 'Exile'.

Happy writing, scribes!

*See the 200 page script

Update: I have now decided to go back to the original plan and make this into two scripts. It's a gamble, but worse case scenario - I have to merge them together.

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