As the Kickstarter campaign continues for The Underwater Realm project, I thought I would take you through some of the development from my writer’s perspective.

When Realm Pictures won the Raindance/Pepsi Max MAX IT competition in 2010 (with this moving short), they were given the opportunity to première a short at Raindance 2012.

Initially, we were talking about a ten-minute film concerning this Roman soldier who drowns in battle and wakes up able to breathe underwater. We went through various iterations of the idea, involving everything from a bleak journey across the ocean to that first wondrous glimpse of the city of Atlantis.

I have e-mails from Dave, charismatic director (you can see him talk enthusiastically here on a weekly basis). They go:

“stuck with where to go – thoughts?” accompanied by beats/outline/script

to which I reply:

“How about something more like this:” …with a completely different thing that bears some relation to the original, with a follow-up note like “The major point is that I think the downer bit needs to go after the crazy fun times – the rest was just framing.”

Meanwhile, Jon (producer) writes mood prose to get us all in the right frame of mind and he swaps scripts back and forth with Dave, which I read at intervals and hack up the descriptive passages to be less wordy.

Then I get an e-mail from Dave wondering if we should just write an entirely new short to a completely different treatment. Wait, isn’t that my line?

Which is when, in the middle of a long e-mail conversation about Script Frenzy, Jon says: “BTW Has Dave filled you in on the new Atlantis plan?”

To which I reply: “Did he go through with the crazy idea of the one act with the girl?”

Jon: “Um, not quite. Basically, putting long one to one side, and instead creating 5 viral shorts showing people interacting with Atlantis through history. ie start with a 2 min video about scuba divers finding strange ruins, then maybe a crashed spitfire pilot finding footprints under the sea, then drowning sailors in midst of Battle of Trafalgar etc etc until we get back to Roman soldier seeing the city of Atlantis in distance.”

Me: !!!

Cue three hours of e-mail in which poor Jon makes Dave’s arguments to me and I am both confused and think he’s insane.

Dave calls me up and I prepare to tell him exactly how much of a stupid idea making five shorts is. But he really sells the wonder of the sea stories.

Present Day divers discovering eerie ethereal beauty of the ocean, hints of a strange culture beneath the waves.

A World War II pilot crashing into the waves – a desperate drowning sequence, a half-remembered dream.

A sinking ship, Atlanteans clinging to the side, harvesting from the dead wood.

A stricken medieval young woman, choosing the sea over a life of confinement.

The Roman soldier drowning only to look on his dead comrades as a man who can breathe the sea.

Okay, well, it sounds pretty awesome. It’s difficult to argue against something that sounds that damn cool. We spend an hour-and-a-half talking about all the possibilities and what we can do with these five microcosms of fantasy awesome.

I hang up feeling exhilarated.

Next post, I’ll talk about the initial scripts for those shorts, how our big production meeting in Devon shaped the culture of Atlantis, and writing audition sides for characters who don’t speak.

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