Monday, August 25, 2008

Albion - the once and future script?

Albion is a story of a modern-day King Arthur. Set in small-town New Zealand, it's the story of a nice guy and common man transformed into a visionary leader. The nice guy (Eric) starts behaving as if he is King Arthur reincarnated, and the various characters around him either believe him or try to persuade him of his insanity.

Eric is crazy, but that’s not the point. His craziness is useful and liberating – it shields him and others from a hostile world and gives Eric purpose in his life.

In some ways, Albion is a modern Don Quixote, but with more respect for the knight – the feeling that chivalry has good points as well as being foolish. Or maybe think Lars and the Real Girl, but with King Arthur instead of a blow-up doll.

At heart, Albion has always seemed a simple idea to me.

Hah to the idea of a simple idea. Nothing else has haunted my scriptwriting career quite like Albion.

Part of that is when I started it. Albion was one of the first scripts I wrote an actual draft for, begun around 1997.

Like several scripts in the 1990s, I wrote it with Hix – at least, I wrote the first draft with him, and always kept him appraised of the current state of play. (I greatly enjoy collaboration, though I have been a major pain in the neck to work with at times. But I want to talk more about collaboration elsewhere, so I’ll keep this series of posts to Albion.) Hix, if you want to comment during this series about your experiences with Albion, it'll be great to hear them.

Another reason that Albion haunts me is I feel I never quite nailed the tone – except in one notable semi-draft. Achieving the right sense of tone is much more difficult than I ever bargained on.

And part of it is something I discussed in this blog earlier – an ability to shift the goalposts of what the project actually was, so I never managed to fulfil my current level of ambition.

In future posts, I’ll go into some of my takes on Albion to both show the evolution of the idea, and key problems I was struggling with it.


d f mamea said...

there's something about stories that reimagine (or is it cherry-pick?) mythology like in Battlestar Galactica or transfer emotional processing onto objects like in Lars and the Real Girl that, for me, always trumps faithful translations, remakes or updates.

i've been flashing on LaGravenese and Gilliam's The Fisher King and Matt Wagner's Mage since reading your post. seen/read them?

Sean said...

Thanks David. I think there's a lot of truth in what you're saying here about the cherry-picking. Trying to be too faithful to the mythological trappings is something that I did struggle with. Or maybe it was more that I didn't know what I wanted to bring out of the mythology and what I wanted to leave behind or openly reject...

Yep, seen/read both of those - not all of Mage, but a fair bit of it. Speaking of comics, Camelot 3000 was a big influence as well!

the daily screenwriter said...

Sounds like an intriguing idea. And cherry-picking does tend to bring an extra level of satisfaction - watching the new spin the writer's brought to the material.

ed said...

holy damn!
I should read blogs more often - if I did then I wouldn't be saying right now:

I should have dragged you to Phil's play - 'shining armour' - it just finished it's run last Saturday, I think (short run due to unforseen circumstances) - it was all about chivalry in the modern age - when it works / when it doesn't work, etc... - I know it wasn't king arthur but it could well have given some inspiration!