I’ve lost the will to blog lately, and don’t see it returning any time soon, but I thought it was worth marking the completion of photography on Mortal Engines. This doesn’t mean the movie is finished – post production starts now, and presumably goes on until pretty close to the release date, 14th December 2018. But it does mean that the live action has all been shot, and the cast are heading home.
I was lucky enough to be invited down to Wellington back in May to visit Stone Street Studios, where the production was based. I’ll post a full account of the trip once the movie is actually out, but I don’t think I’m giving away any secrets if I say that it was all looking very good. London was only just starting to be built when I was there, but I walked around the streets of Airhaven and Batmunkh Gompa, sat in the gondola of the Jenny Haniver, and peeked inside Mr Shrike’s house. Most of it looked very much as I’d imagined, except for the bits which looked better.
The actors were just as impressive – watching Robbie Sheehan, Hera Hilmar, Hugo Weaving and some of the other cast members at work made me realise that when actors complain that, ‘it’s SUCH hard work, dahling,’ they have a point: acting in a film like Mortal Engines means long hours and heroic feats of concentration – it can’t be easy, believably portraying intense emotions in the midst of what’s basically a busy factory, but they make it look easy. So did the director, Christian Rivers, who has the daunting job of orchestrating it all. I didnt hear any complaints, though – the cast and crew all seemed to be having a good time, which must bode well. During most of my visit a posse of aviators were busy doing their stuff in Airhaven’s top nighspot the Gasbag and Gondola. I think Anna Fang (Jihae), Captain Khora (Rege-Jean Page) and co. have a little bit more to do in the movie than they did in the book, and frankly they deserve their own spin-off movie, they’re all great.
Meanwhile, what lurked in this mysterious box in the corner of the studio? I didn’t dare to look…
I’m finally able to share some big news for fans of Mortal Engines (and indeed, writers of Mortal Engines). I’m not sure how much I can say about it at the moment, so I’m just going to leave some salient bits of the press release here.
Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies) are making the feature Mortal Engines, based on the award winning book series of the same name from British author Philip Reeve.
Jackson and Walsh have co-written the screenplay with collaborator Philippa Boyens (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies). Christian Rivers is attached to direct. Christian has spent the majority of his 25-year career working closely with Jackson, beginning as a Story Board Artist, later moving into supervising visual effects and finally serving as Splinter Unit Director on The Hobbit trilogies. Christian won an Academy Award® for his work on the 2005 film, King Kong (Best Achievement in Visual Effects). He also recently served as second unit director on the remake of Pete’s Dragon. Mortal Engines is his first project as Director.
“Christian is one of my closest collaborators,” says Jackson, “The combination of emotion and jaw-dropping visuals in ‘Mortal Engines’ makes this the perfect movie for his move into feature directing. What Christian intends to do with Philip Reeve’s terrific story is going to result in an original and spectacular movie. I wish I could see it tomorrow!”
“’Mortal Engines’ is one of those stories that was made for the big screen,” says Rivers. “A fantastical, futuristic world that has to be seen to be believed. At its heart though, it’s a beautiful love story and a richly complex character driven adventure. To be the director who gets to bring Philip Reeve’s incredible universe to life is a dream come true.”
“I’m thrilled that Christian, Fran, Philippa and Peter are bringing my book to the screen,” said Philip Reeve. “They’ve created some of the most memorable imaginary worlds in modern cinema, so I can’t wait to experience their vision of the world of ‘Mortal Engines.’”
I’ll also presenting awards to the winners of a short story competition which the National Space Centre are running. The winning stories are being posted online here. There are some very impressive ones, and I’m looking forward to meeting their authors!
The Ministry of Biscuits, the musical what I wrote with Brian P. Mitchell twenty years ago, opens at Brighton’s Lantern Theatre on the 23rd of November, and I’ll be doing two events in my old hometown to tie in with it.
Well, the first is in Hove, actually – at the fabled Book Nook children’s bookshop, who have kindly invited me along to talk about my books. And Sarah McIntyre is coming too! We’ll be happy to sign books and answer your questions about the stories we create together as well as our solo work – Mortal Engines, Railhead, Goblins, and Sarah’s comics and picture books. And we may finish off with a song from The Ministry of Biscuits (sung, to everyone’s relief, not by ourselves, but by one of the stars). The Ministry… isn’t a children’s show (it comes from a time before I’d thought of writing for children) but there’s nothing in it that’s actually unsuitable for kids of 7+, and I think it should appeal to fans of Mortal Engines, which was written at around the same time. (Brian and I were aiming for a sort of Ealing Comedy with music.)
The Book Nook is at 1 St Johns Place, First Avenue, Hove BN3 2FJ, and our event is at 4pm on Monday November 20th. Admission is free, but please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a place so they know how many people to expect.
Then I’ll be returning to Brighton on Friday November 24th. If you come to see The Ministry of Biscuits that night, Brian and I will be hanging about afterwards to talk about the show over tea, biscuits and mulled wine.
I’m often asked if Mortal Engines is available as an audiobook, and the answer is finally YES. Audible have just released a new recording, narrated by the actor and writer Barnaby Edwards. Barnaby is well-known to Doctor Who fans as a DALEK, and also as a writer, director and script editor of many Big Finish audio productions. He’s a much-sought after reader for audiobooks, and the perfect voice for the Mortal Engines quartet. And he’s already recorded Predator’s Gold, Infernal Devices, and A Darkling Plain, which will be available soon…