The Piper: Beginnings
After seeing Atom Egoyan’s film The Sweet Hereafter, I wanted to try and understand it so I looked deeper and learned it was based on a novel of the same name and both were about the aftermath in a town where all the children had been taken away. In this case, due to a tragic school bus accident. Incredibly depressing.
In their comments both creators referred to the legend of the Pied Piper as inspiration. I thought: ‘the legend can’t be that depressing.’ Yeah, it can. And worse. In the legend, the children are taken away and sealed inside a mountain forever.
I could not imagine a more depressing story to tell.
The Contrarian that I am wanted to turn the story upside down. Have the pipe make horrible noise instead of sweet music, and save the children. Make it as terrifying as possible but give it a happy ending. I set it in a post-apocalyptic future without electricity or machines. A medieval lifestyle set amongst the ruins of a future I call: The Future Past.
It was fun to write but when I came to my senses I knew such a screenplay would take forever to get produced. There are too many hurdles for movie makers. Working with children is difficult and requires strict rules of work hours. Horses and their handlers require food, training and shelter. Dogs even more so, although CGI work like that used in The Revenant would make it simpler, CGI actually raises costs. Fire effects and explosions, plus stunts, require even more time and effort.
But I still wrote it. It was entertaining. I just didn’t care how I would ever get the movie made.
Then I saw Road to Perdition, a live action movie made from a graphic novel and realized that there was a way to tell this story without incurring all those prohibitive costs. A creative artist can take us anywhere with a few brush strokes. I could turn the screenplay into a graphic novel, except I can’t draw a circle. I had to find someone who could, and would, be willing to tell my story.