Not even kidding.
Film and TV rights for The Bone Season and its sequels have been optioned by Andy Serkis' company, The Imaginarium Studios.
Sorry for the very long delay in announcing the news. Needless to say I'm over the moon. Now I get to talk about film rights and book-to-film, which I hope you guys will find just as interesting as the manuscript-to-book process!
First I'll tell you a bit about the company. The Imaginarium Studios was started by independent producer Jonathan Cavendish and Andy Serkis in 2011. Both Jonathan and Andy have many years of experience in the film industry. Jonathan notably produced Elizabeth: The Golden Age, the Bridget Jones films and Croupier, along with many others. I'm sure Andy needs no introduction, even if you don't always 'see' him on the screen – he played Gollum in all three Lord of the Rings films (reprising his role in the upcoming Hobbit trilogy), King Kong in the 2005 remake, Captain Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin and Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. He's also appeared without his "digital makeup" in a host of films, including Inkheart, Stormbreaker and Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll. His interest in motion capture is what got Imaginarium started. The idea was to create a UK-based hub for motion capture projects in Europe. They use the latest motion tracking technology from Vicon.
The Financial Times released an article on Andy and Jonathan's up-and-coming projects this morning. Here's a more Bone Season-centric excerpt from Deadline News today:
“I am thrilled to be working with The Imaginarium,” said Shannon. “Their name had me from the start: a place devoted to imagination. There is a strong, visual sensibility to my writing process and I am very excited by the creative possibilities for how 'The Bone Season' could translate from page to screen. I am confident that all the members of the Imaginarium team are as passionate about the book as I am and I look forward to working with them to make this project a reality.”
I really am thrilled. Imaginarium is a cutting-edge studio and I trust the team completely with The Bone Season. The new set of edits I'm doing were prompted by Imaginarium's writers, who met Bloomsbury with some new suggestions. Filmmakers are forensic about plot, and they came up with some really good editorial points – not so the book will suit a film (they initially went through it from a reader's perspective, not as filmmakers), but so the plot becomes clearer to the reader. To me it showed they cared about the whole world of The Bone Season, not just the visual aspect. They read it four times before producing notes on it.
I'll answer a few questions off the top of my head.
How did it happen?
I was first approached for rights very early on, right after the acquisition of the book was announced. Rights may sell pre- or post-publication. I'm not sure if it works the same in all cases, so I'll just tell you what I've experienced so far. When the author is approached for rights, it may be with or without a studio. Imaginarium is an independent production company. They'll develop The Bone Season in the UK – great for me, as I live very near its base in London – and then take it to studios and see if they're interested in distributing and financing it. Andy and Jonathan will both be producers on The Bone Season.
Does this mean it will all be done with mo-cap?
No, but it does mean it will look very good when it's used. There are several characters in The Bone Season who will need to be digitally animated or enhanced in some way, including one of the main characters, Warden. Andy is pretty much Hollywood's go-to guy for mo-cap, so my not-quite-human characters couldn't be in better hands. He and Jonathan showed me some of the projects Imaginarium are working on at the moment, including the new adaptation of Animal Farm, and they really do look fantastic. They have a committed team of animators, some of whom are transfers from the Weta Workshop, which provided animation for The Lord of the Rings.
Do you get any rights?
Yes! Hallelujah. Signing with Imaginarium has ensured that I have consultation rights over what happens in the film. This was what sold it for me. Many film companies simply buy the rights and then do as they please with the book (see Authors Who hated the Movie Versions of their Books). Fortunately for me, Jonathan and Andy said from the beginning that they wanted me to be involved in production. I was hugely relieved to be offered these rights. I don't intend to force myself on all aspects of the film – I think a film should be a fresh artistic take on a work, not just a reproduction of what the author has written – but it's great that it's a collaboration, not just a selling-off. I'm making up a visual portfolio for Andy at the moment, so he gets an idea of how I envision Scion. Good thing I'm doing a paper in Film Studies this year!
I met Andy in person last week and had a barely-controlled fangirl fit. Really embarrassing. He's such a nice guy. You always expect celebrities to be an alien species, but Andy is so chilled. And loves The Bone Season. Considering he's spent years working in Tolkien's world, it's an honour to have him look at my world and see something worth making a film out of. I was also excited to see that Jonathan had produced Bridget Jones – the author of the books, Helen Fielding, went to the college I currently attend (and also studied English). IT'S FATE.
I couldn't be happier with my decision to go with Imaginarium, and I really can't wait to start working with them. Send them some love on Twitter and Facebook.
Please do ask questions if you'd like to know more – I'll let you know developments as I hear them. Film is often a very long and slow process, so there won't be news about it as often as there will be about the book, but there is tonnes of exciting stuff to come.
All previous Q's will be answered next week.