[Another contribution by Chris Donaghue. -AC]
This spring reminds me of my band Bloom. The only band I have ever played in that has never broken up. We have also never played a gig together. Nor do we plan to, but we are planning to make a great movie of the best unfilmed book.
One of us is quite possibly the world’s best digital animator. He’s worked on X-Men, 300, and John Wyndham’s Day Of The Triffids, among others. Another of us was in the Bob Dylan movie, I’m Not There. And I made it onto the Feist song, A Man Is Not His Song. We have been accessories to greatness, but we haven’t been great together yet.
We used to do only original material, sometimes recorded in studios with grand pianos. But now we usually do living room Beatles medleys, like A Day In The Life. Plans are afoot though, like seeds that grow…
Bloom was born in 2001 at Waverly & Van Horne, across the street from Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Together and apart we have since been to Siberia and back, Nasca, Newgrange, & Machu Pichu too.
Jeremy, the animator, is the most accomplished of us. He used to play bass in Bloom. Now he paints mostly. That is when he is not doing Deadpool, or Days of Future Past. I really think he is the best digital animator in the world. You may think me gilding the lily a lil’ bit, but there was something of a blind test.
Jeremy has to sign non-disclosure agreements, and therefore I haven’t always known what he’s working on. So when I saw 300 and loved digital animation for the first time, I didn’t even know it was him.
I said “I saw some CGI that I actually liked, in a movie called 300.”
“I worked on that,’ he said in surprise.
“Really?!” I said, even more surprised.
He worked on the “This is Sparta!” scene. I can spot his work now.
I knew he did X-Men: Days of Future Past, and I could tell he did the solar flares on Sunspot. He said they were a shoutout to me and my fascination with the solar-powered aurora borealis.
It was him and 300 other people of course. But if you want to see him work alone, he did the blood on the happy face in The Watchmen, by himself.
This was possible because it only lasts half a second, and moving liquids and other amorphous shapes are the specialty of Jeremy Eliosoff, the worlds best digital animator. And his paintings are even better. But if you ever see anything really fluid in a movie, like descending webs, it was probably Jeremy.
The other guy, Paul, who used to sing and play guitar, is actually the best bass player I’ve ever played with. he’s like a jazz string quartet all by himself. Yet I have never played kit with him since I discovered this. Partly because he mostly directs plays he writes.
And he does the occasional bit part in Hollywood to pay the bills, like in Whitehouse Down. He plays a helicopter pilot, and he’s one of the people calling out Dylan for playing through the PA when he went electric. This is during the part of the film with Cate Blanchett’s electric dandy version of Dylan.
Paul has also had his plays produced at festivals all over Canada and the world, like Winnipeg or Edinburgh, or somewhere else equally as unlikely.
I have been discussing what The Chrysalids made us both think of with him since 1991. Which is, that we both mentally cast the same homeless Brockvillian as the spider-man, in our own thought-shape movies. If you know the book, you probably cast your own version of the spider-man.
Paul and I are dyslexic, so getting us to do the expected, is like pushing water uphill. But if we ever do break up, I am arguing that we make Abbey Road first, or perhaps Grace would be a better analogy. But I’d settle for Outlandos D’amour, or, Love in the Fringes.
I’ve been from Zeeland to New Zealand. But I have always wanted to make a movie of The Chrysalids. That story about leaving Canada for New Zealand. NZ is where the Green Party are from, and the first place to give women the vote. New Zealand may not be a new world, but it is a brave one.
Bloom! The Action Verb! & Action Movie Makers!
Within Bloom there is a writer, a director/actor, and the world’s best digital animator, who has already made one Wyndham film. But every version of Day Of The Triffids, leaves a lot to be desired. And they keep trying. It’s one of three theatrical versions, all the which are so unlike the novel that comparing the novel to any of the three filmed versions is like comparing apples and broccoli.
So many Wyndham adaptions and none are loved like the books. An opportunity?
Yes. I feel Chrysalids fans want a faithful version rendered upon the silver screen. And Jeremy tells me he would like the chance to make a faithful version of a Wyndham book.
And there has also been three films based on Wyndham’s book The Midwich Cuckoos, even though it requires dozens of child actors who were supposed to be identical. While The Chrysalids would require little more than a farmhouse with some woods. And The Chrysalids, has been called the best unfilmed book.
And it won’t require much animation. There is a fuzzy memory of a city from a dream and an aircraft. It won’t require anything like the walking plants Jeremy had to do for Day Of The Triffids. And the telepathy in the novel can be done easily with the magic of voice over.
So I am planning to pay scale, but give royalties from the sale of the film, likely to a Canadian streaming service if not the silver screen. This will make them rich like Alec Guinness got rich from Star Wars after the fact. He was too expensive to pay much up front. So Obi-Wan scored after the fact at the box office.
And the audience for a film of The Chrysalids is already built in. So many had to read it, and they either loved it or hated it. But they don’t make you read it in school so much anymore. So adults have been imagining The Chrysalids, for decades, but kids today are a new audience. And today’s youth have been brought up on teen dystopias, but they don’t know The Chrysalids. Yet. And The Hunger Games, & Harry Potter are of the previous generation. Today’s teens are ready for their story of possibility.
So the millions that loved it have been deprived of a movie of The Chrysalids. While there have been literally dozens of adaptions of Whyndham stories. But there has only ever been a radio play of The Chrysalids. And they have all been universally panned. Jeremy’s version of Day Of The Triffids, is probably the best adaption, but 28 Days Later, is a better version of a very similar story.
The Chrysalids was first published in 1955, and set in a future Labrador, & ‘Newf.’ But generations of Canadians had to read it in high school. I had to in grade 10, and my grade 5 teacher Mr. Wells gave it to me. Mr. Wells also started my theatrical career. He had me play the character Schroeder the musician in You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown.
We spent 4 months rehearsing before he took us on a mini-tour of three schools. He’d be proud to know I got a geography degree and will play uncle Alex in the film, who gives the life-altering geography lesson, before the flight to the fringes.
Bloom was once a band, but we have all gone the way of the music industry and gone into moving pictures. But within the group are exactly the right talents to make the greatest unfilmed novel, into the film that generations have been waiting for.
And we’d do it with a great Canadian soundtrack like The Band, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, The Arcade Fire, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. With Bloom doing part of the score, with the Hotel 2 Tango alumni helping on strings and things.
An interesting connection between the Hotel 2 Tango crew and classic sci-fi is that the husband and wife duo from The Arcade Fire, & Owen Pallet, did the musical score for Button Button, by Roger Matheson. But the story was changed so drastically as to be completely unrecognizable.
The score was probably the best part. And The Arcade Fire & Owen Pallett made their first album together across the street from where Bloom was born, at Hotel 2 Tango.
I bet they would love a second chance to score a classic. This time they could be part of making a score sound like the dream-track of the millions of dreamers who read this story when they were young.
Adaptation, or Adaption?
Ironically, the best Wyndham adaption really is considered to be 28 Days Later, by Alex Garland & Danny Boyle. It is almost exactly like Day Of The Triffids. Though it is more rip off than homage. But Godspeed is heard in the film, though not on the soundtrack album. And I don’t think they are on any other soundtrack album either.
All the thoroughly unfulfilling Wyndham adaptions makes The Chrysalids cry out for a faithful adaptation. Stephen King called it the best British sci-fi novel. I am betting that I can find some interested parties that would love to chip in and help make a film that demands to be made.
When I saw Jeremy last, I showed him a 60’s school edition of the book with the original chapter titles. The last chapter was originally entitled Brave New World. The chapter titles were taken out of later editions, which made the story much more ambiguous.
On the back of this old edition, is one small picture of a leafless tree with the root structure showing. That night we had a waitress with almost the exact image tattooed across the veins of one forearm. Even she agreed it was eerily similar. I took the symbolism of her tattoo as a good omen of things to come.
So instead of trying to harmonize on Leonard Cohen, across the street from Godspeed where Bloom was born, we will face the fact that we work in movies instead now. The bloom just might be coming off, and the chrysalis may be beginning…
My dream team for making this 3 part movie would be for Don McKellar to write and direct Part 1. Waknuk. I’d write Part 2. The Known World, and for my bandmate Paul to direct it.
And for Robert J. Sawyer to write Part 3. Flight to Zeeland, and for Guy Maddin, or Denis Villeneuve to direct it.
I plan to make the best possible movie of the best unfilmed book, and the most filmable book. With me, and many crowd-funded co-producers. And Peter Jackson co-producing. Afterall, the story starts in Canada but ends in his native New Zealand. And The Chrysalids would make a lot more sense as a trilogy than The Hobbit did.
All the other Wyndham films have failed miserably, but they only ever had one member of Bloom, this film will have three of us. Which no stage ever has.
Maybe I can convince my bandmates to finish the Wyndham project we began discussing in 1991. One of us already has made a Wyndham film he’d like to improve upon. Only Bloom together could make the best possible Wyndham film. And it really needs to be done, in part to make up for the worst movie ever made.
The director who made The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson, also made a movie called The Brothers Bloom. His Bloom movie is not so bad, but our Bloom movie will make up for his excruciating Star Wars film.
And I plan to contact the people who’ve raised hundreds of millions to remake The Last Jedi, with crowd-funding. I’d get them behind a project that can happen. And you can buy bit parts.
There is a GOFUNDME page for this dream to become a brave new film. Just go to their site and type in The Chrysalids.
So those of you who loved the book, and would love to see an Independent Canadian production of The Chrysalids, please help. This way we can do it without a studio trying to control our minds.