The pace is building on the forthcoming adaptation of Samantha Shannon’s breakthrough blockbuster The Bone Season. The first instalment of the planned seven-part fantasy series hit bookshelves last August, and it’s built something of a cult following.
Andy Serkis, perhaps better known for his roles in LORD OF THE RINGS, THE HOBBIT and RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, quickly saw the novel’s storytelling potential and acquired its film rights for his production company Imaginarium Studios.
And it’s no surprise Serkis couldn’t wait to work on this project. The Bone Season follows the story of nineteen year old Paige Mahoney; a young woman with a powerful psychic gift in a future dystopian London where clairvoyants are hunted down. Shannon’s world-building is richly layered, bringing Victorian street slang and costumes to 2059. Its cinematic potential is clear, and wasn’t lost on Serkis after he came across the manuscript at the London Book Fair.
‘I immediately fell in love with the scope, the scale and the exceptional detail of the world,’ he says. ‘It’s a really compelling story with such a great central character – we all immediately saw its potential as a fantastic feature film.’
Fans of the book will also be thrilled by how closely Serkis is working with the author on all aspects of the transformation from page to screen. Shannon has been involved from the beginning with all the early concept artwork.
But whether the Rephaim (Shannon’s race of unearthly beings) will, like Gollum/Smeagol, be created using performance capture remains to be seen:
‘We’re in the early stages of design,’ Serkis explains, ‘so we’re certainly not tied to any one production technique. At this stage it’s about finding the right writer and the right approach to telling the story.’
‘Hand in hand with developing the screenplay it’s also about developing the visual world and bringing that to life – finding the right visual effects team who understand the novel’s concepts,’ he goes on to say.
And what about the creative process itself for adapting The Bone Season? For Serkis it’s all about knowing which story to tell:
‘There’re thousands of stories contained within the world Samantha has created. We have to be very disciplined about opening up the world in a way that will lead us on to further investigation in the rest of the series. We need to find the emotional heart of the story: the relationships, the tension, the suspense and the drive.’
Of course Serkis is no stranger to bringing fantasy worlds to contemporary audiences. His work with Peter Jackson made him a household name:
‘Peter gave me the opportunity to work on a lot of extraordinary characters in a lot of extraordinary worlds and has opened up my eyes to a genre that I knew very little about before.’
So what else is on the menu for Serkis and Imaginarium Studios? An adaptation of another dystopian novel: George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Serkis and his team have been working on the character and story development this year, as well as a concept for the film that sees a relocation of time and setting. ‘It’s as if Orwell were writing today,’ Serkis explains. It’s with the blessing of the Orwell estate too.
If you can’t wait for Imaginarium Studios’ fantastical adaptation, The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon is available now. You can check out our review by clicking here and if you’re looking for even more info, click here for the book trailer!