You've got MirrorMask
coming out on the 30th. Would you like to talk a little about that?
Well, in 2001, Lisa Henson phoned and said, "Look, we've been talking with Sony, and it's become obvious that Labyrinth
and The Dark Crystal
, these two family fantasy movies that Henson made in the 80s, which at the time were both regarded as being flops, have gone on to have this life-forever. People love them, people remember them." She said, "We want to do something like that again."
"The upside of this is that Sony has told us to go ahead and make a movie and come back and we'll do it. The downside is that those films were made for $40 million in the 80s and we have $4 million." And I said, "I can see where that could be a problem."
She said, "Well, do you think that Dave McKean would be interested or willing to direct?" And I said, "I don't know, but I can ask him for you." And she said, "If he is interested in directing, would you be willing to come up with a story? Obviously we couldn't afford for you to write it." And I said, "If Dave says 'yes' then I'm there."
So, he said 'yes,' and I was there.
It was Dave's story with some stuff by me, and I wrote the script with his specifications, basically. And we made it. Dave did this film about this circus girl who wants to run away and join real life but instead finds herself much much deeper inside her dreams, and it's coming out on the 30th of September.
You know, it's become the sort of little film that could. Originally there were no plans to do anything other than release it directly to DVD, and then it got accepted to Sundance, much to everybody's astonishment. And then it was obvious there really was this grass roots swell from people who had seen it at Sundance who wanted to see it and told other people about it.
And it opens in selected theaters around the country?
Yeah, they're doing the kind of rollout that they would normally do for a small European art film. Which means, it starts in selected cinemas. If people want it to come where they are, the best thing that they can do is encourage their friends who live where it's showing to see it in its first week. Because the number of bodies per screen in that first week determines whether that was it for MirrorMask
, or whether they roll it out somewhere else in week two.
And is it true you have other films in the works as well?
Yeah! We've got a whole bunch of things. Beowulf
starts shooting in two weeks time.
You wrote the script for that?
Yes, I wrote the script in 1998 with Roger Avery for him to direct. Bob Zemeckis was going to produce it, but for a variety of reasons it couldn't happen. We were on the verge of making it happen again, and Bob came out of the blue and asked if he could make it into one of these $100 million motion capture movies, and that's what seems to be happening.
And Good Omens
, which you wrote with Terry Pratchett?
Yep, Terry Gilliam is trying to get that happening again and fingers crossed that he does. He has a wonderful script for it. Coraline
, my last children's book has just been green-lit and is in production with Henry Selick making it, with songs by They Might Be Giants which is rather wonderful.
So yes, there are all sorts of strange movieish things floating around.
Sounds like your work in film is sort of taking over from your print work.
Yes, but that's only because you can have lots of things that you've worked on over a period of a decade that can all sort of suddenly come out together and give everybody the impression that you're doing nothing but that, whereas books more or less come out as you write them, so you get a book out every couple years, regular as clockwork.
Whereas, I wrote the script to MirrorMask
in 2002; I wrote the script to Beowulf
in 1998; but they're all coming out now, and people are going, "Oh my gosh - you're doing so many movies!"
We're about to have an explosion of Neil Gaiman movies!