Help me cast the fantasy movie of Dreamsnake.
Dreamsnake itself is science fiction, but the chance that a movie might be made is in the realm of fantasy.
Some years back I wrote a screenplay for Dreamsnake. It was too long (150 pages rather than the acceptable-unless-it’s-Lawrence-of-Arabia 120), but before I worked on it anymore I thought it would be interesting to hear it read aloud.
Did it make sense?
Was it too episodic? (It’s a quest novel; of course it’s episodic. It would make a better miniseries than movie.)
Was the dialogue I’d written speakable by a human being?
Spoilers below the jump, so stop here if you don’t like spoilers.
I started asking around to find friends and acquaintances with some stage experience. Apparently actors talk among themselves even as writers do, possibly even more, since acting is a more social occupation than writing.
Actors — professional actors, a couple who worked for the Seattle Rep — started calling me to volunteer.
“I would love to have you on the project,” sez I, “but you do understand — there’s no money involved? I’ll feed you really well, but there’s no money involed.”
“No problem,” they said without exception. “Sounds like fun!”
And that’s what happened.
I ended up with several experienced amateurs and several professionals, all extremely talented, plus a professional videographer who taped the whole thing.
Listening to them read it was quite an experience. Once in a while I cringed, but I was astonished to find that I had written far less unspeakable dialogue than I’d feared.
With one scene, the actors soared. The emotional states of two characters start out high and low, and end up low and high. I wasn’t sure the scene could be understood without any narrative; I wasn’t sure it could be played.
Not only could it be played: the actors read it better than I wrote it.
They were all terrific.
And I fed them really well.
Now I have the opportunity to create the fantasy cast of the Dreamsnake movie, and I could use some help.
I have some ideas for Snake, Arevin (you’ll be surprised, but you’ll see I’m right), the Mayor, Jesse, and North.
I haven’t settled on who could play Stavin, Stavin’s three parents, Arevin’s cousin (the leader), Alex, Gabriel, Ras, Silver, Thad, the crazy, or Jesse’s brother.
And who will play Melissa, the scarred child?
And then there’s Merideth. Merideth presents a problem.
Spoiler alert: don’t read any farther if you don’t like spoilers.
Merideth is a character whose sex you never find out in the book
And I’m never telling.
Because I took the Alex/Jesse/Merideth section of the book to a Milford Workshop when I was a pup, and my colleagues trashed it unmercifully, and the thing they trashed the most unmercifully was that they didn’t find out Merideth’s sex till a page or two after the character showed up.
“You have to tell the reader the sex of your character as soon as the character appears,” they declared.
“On the first page.”
“No, the first paragraph!”
“Why, the first sentence!”
I was so pissed off that I rewrote the section without ever mentioning Merideth’s sex.
Amusingly enough, most readers never notice that the character’s sex isn’t specified, but develop a strong opinion about what it is.
(Even more amusingly I did the same thing in another book, with a character of a similar name, and as far as I recall, nobody ever noticed. It was a minor character who appeared offstage, but still.)
Casting Merideth presents challenges. What actor is androgynous enough to play the character realistically so the audience never knows the character’s sex, secure enough to agree to play Merideth in the first place, and physical enough to carry off the part.
You meet Merideth in a headlong emergency horseback ride across a rocky desert.
Not many actors are good riders, and oftentimes the riding is faked. (Never well.) Viggo Mortensen sits a horse beautifully, but can you imagine him playing an androgynous character? No way. And since Westerns barely exist anymore, how often do you even get to see an actor ride?
So I need some help.
Let the suggestions begin.
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Dreamsnake will be featured soon at Book View Cafe.
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