Wednesday, September 12, 2012

J.A. London's "Darkness Before Dawn"

J. A. London is the mother-son writing team of Rachel Hawthorne and her son, Alex London. Rachel has written many novels for teens, including the popular Dark Guardian series. Alex, a recent graduate with a degree in Historical Studies, enjoys combining history and fiction to create unique worlds. The Darkness Before Dawn series is their first joint project.

Here they share some suggestions for adapting the series for the big screen:
As we wrote Darkness Before Dawn, we didn’t have a specific actor in mind for any of the characters. However, we did have a specific look for each character: haggard, tired, worn-down. Dawn takes place in a dystopian future, where humanity has been ravaged by a war against vampires, and now must live their lives in quarantined cities. Food isn’t abundant or nutritious, and neither is makeup or shampoo. Everyone gets by, but only just.

Dawn would be hard to cast, but we’d want an “unknown” to play her. We wouldn’t want any pre-conceived notions of the actress to filter into Dawn’s personality. But most importantly, we’d want the actress to read the entire series of books, to know where Dawn is heading, and to play the part of a girl torn between two worlds.

For Michael, we’d like to see an unknown actor as well. He’s a bodyguard-in-training, but we don’t want a fashion model playing him. We want someone who’s intimidating and serious, until he flashes that smile just for Dawn. We also want him to have that “every-man” look, we want him to look like your friend at school, that guy who waits tables, your next door neighbor.

And Victor … ah, yes, Victor. Talk about a challenge to cast. He needs to have an Old School style, with the etiquette of the 19th century, but a modern cutting edge hidden just underneath the surface. We almost need two actors! So much of his dialogue depends on the delivery; it’s all about confidence. Everything he says and does should feel intentional. For Victor, we’d look toward the stage. We think actors who have experience in plays could carry themselves well in this role, and give them a chance to get their feet wet in Hollywood.

As for the director, we’ve got only one choice: Alfonso Cuarón. He directed the third Harry Potter film (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), and brought a dark edge to the series that really matured it. We’ve also been impressed with his work in Children of Men; some of the shots and long sequences are so beautiful they could be played in an art gallery.

Overall, if Darkness Before Dawn were greenlit and made into a movie, we’d have one final piece of advice for everyone involved: Make it your own. We’d completely trust the actors, actresses, and director. We’d hand them the keys to the kingdom, and then step back. We live in the world of novels, and they live in the world of film. The only way to have a good adaptation is to have faith in your team’s ability to deliver. In Darkness Before Dawn we may have set the stage, but everyone else has to make it come alive.
Visit J.A. London's website, Twitter perch, and Facebook page.

--Marshal Zeringue