Welcome to the first of five #Book2ScreenMagicMondays. I’m kicking off each week leading up to the premiere of A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES’ second season by sharing some insights into the process of adapting SHADOW OF NIGHT for television, along with some of the #behindthescenes pictures I took along the way.
I wanted to begin by sharing the question that the cast and crew ask me more than any other: “what does it feel like to see your story come alive?”
Of course there are many answers to this, depending on the day and the circumstances. For me, the story is always alive–it’s never just words on a page. I’ve been living with these characters, rain or shine, since 2008. So they’re very real and three-dimensional to me, and always have been.
I do understand the question, however. And it always touches my heart that any member of the cast and crew has the empathy to ask the question at all, given how busy they are.
The adaptation process is, in my experience, a bit like being in the classroom. It’s challenging. It’s exciting. It’s amazing when things go right, and everything clicks. I love it when a member of cast or crew thinks their way towards the answer to some dilemma with smarts and instinct, just like I love it when my students have their a-ha moments. Sometimes there are disappointments, when the best laid plans and intentions go awry–often due to the complete unpredictability of the weather! I am reminded at those times of the days when I ask an essay question and my office hours are flooded with confused students who can’t make heads or tails of it! Needless to say, it all works out in the end.
The most significant similarity between adapting the first three books of the All Souls Series for television and my life as a teacher and scholar is the overwhelming sense of gratitude that I have that anyone shows up at all to work with my imaginary and historical friends. Whether it’s a lecture on sixteenth-century urban culture, a talk I give on some tiny detail of scientific note-taking practices, or reconstructing Elizabethan London down to the weeds that grow up in the street and the signs on the buildings, I am always astonished that people are willing to give of their time, enthusiasm, and talents to help me share them.
How does it feel to have my words come to life? It feels magical. And over the next few weeks I’m looking forward to sharing some of that magic with you, starting this week with a few shots from my “filming family” album. Because the magic you see on screen is made possible thanks to the hard work of literally hundreds of people from the Art Department to the catering team to the unit drivers and security personnel. Life in a film unit is a bit like a family. We share joys and sorrows, irritations and giggles, tea and biscuits. There is dancing, and laughter, and moments of chaos, and moments of stillness. We’ve celebrated the birth of children, and marriages, and pregnancies. We’ve shared the loss of those we hold dear, and welcomed new creatures into our pack. These resilient, creative people occupy a very special place in my heart. They are like a second family to me, and when you watch the show in the new year, I hope that you remember that every moment is due to their skill and resilience.
Here are a few shots from my “film family” album to get us started:
Edward Bluemel and Sophia Myles, kicking up their heels and sheltering from the rain in the cast tent.
One of the smallest, but mightily important, members of the All Souls family: Bodhi.
Every single person has a job to do. It’s like watching the world’s most intricate machine in action–except it’s all people!
Dan, Kate, and a mysterious gremlin from America who crept into the shot…
What amazes me most? The cast and crew have this uncanny ability to focus in the midst of all the busy chaos.
Sometimes, you just have to find someone to hold your gloves. Sometimes, that someone is the first AD.
One place you will always find us? At the catering truck. Thank you Harry and Co!