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Dragonchoice does Dragonflight

20 March 2020 | 6 comments | Tagged: , , , ,

Lessa and Watch-wher illustrated by Melanie Reynolds for Dragonflight: A Pilot Screenplay

Lessa and Watch-wher illustrated by Melanie Reynolds for Dragonflight: A Pilot Screenplay

We’re living in strange, unsettling, challenging times and, like many people, I’ve been looking for ways to process, manage and distract from it – and to help others to do the same.

So this is my small contribution: Dragonflight – A Pilot Screenplay.

A few months ago I decided to take a crack at adapting Pern as a TV show. Full disclaimer: I don’t have the option or the rights; I’m not entirely sure if the option’s lapsed again or if WB or someone else has it or if it’s reverted to the McCaffreys. This is 100% completely unofficial and not-for-profit. It’s still just fanfiction, in screenplay format.

I’ve only written the pilot and I’m unlikely to write any more than that, adapting the first part of Dragonflight plus a few elements of Masterharper of Pern, but I’ve thought in considerable detail about how I would shape a Dragonriders TV show. It includes alterations to characters, names and storylines. It changes certain things that quite simply wouldn’t fly in 2020. It even adds a few bits and bobs. It’s an adaptation, not a slavish transcription of action and dialogue from the text.

Some of you are going to hate it. I mean really hate it.

And that’s OK. I hated a lot of the changes made when A Song Of Ice And Fire was adapted into Game Of Thrones. Plenty of them still aren’t defensible in my view. But what GOT got right was that it reached a mainstream audience who’d never heard of the books. GRRM’s existing fans were going to watch the show whatever, but it lived and died on its ability to sell the world to new viewers. And it did, and it became arguably the biggest cultural phenomenon of the Noughties.

So that’s what I’ve aimed at with my adaptation of Pern. I’m not writing for the hardcore fans who’ll nitpick line by line every departure from the text (though you’re certainly welcome to do so; there are plenty of them). I’m writing to invite in a wider audience.

We may never see a Dragonriders of Pern TV show or movie. But if you enjoyed Dragonchoice, then I hope you might also enjoy my take on how a show might go, and in these difficult days of self-isolation and lockdown, if reading a screenplay can distract you for half an hour or an hour, then I’ll consider it a small bit of public service.

Ever-magnificent Dragonchoice artist Melanie Reynolds has illustrated the iconic scene from Dragonflight when Lessa visits the Ruathan watch-wher in the aftermath of her premonition of danger from the east.

Go to Dragonflight – A Pilot Screenplay >>


6 responses to “Dragonchoice does Dragonflight”

  1. Lucy says:

    I love this!!! Some people might hate it, and it’s true that you made some really major changes, but it had to be done. Pern could never survive on the big screen if it kept every aspect of the originals, and those sacrifices would be so worth it if it meant a cohesive and well done tv adaption. Combining Fax and Meron was a stroke of genius. F’nor being D’nor weirded me out a bit, but it’s partly that it’s just hard to get used to a different name for a character you know so well!

  2. Allan Belcher says:

    I love it!
    I would like to offer an introduction idea, to firmly establish that pern is NOT fantasy.
    It’s a voice-over introduction with a series of video sequences that finally merges into your opening scene.

    Here is a Dropbox link:

    • Faye Faye says:

      Thank you – I considered an intro, but honestly the vast majority of Pern’s history doesn’t have much relevance to Dragonflight’s plot – the apparently anachronistic elements like Kale/Meron’s wristwatch and the DNA motif in use at the Weyr establishes that this isn’t standard fantasy without infodumping. I don’t think that understanding Pern’s background as a futuristic colony really adds anything until AtWoP, and in screenplay you cut with extreme prejudice anything that isn’t relevant. There’s no point promising sci fi tech and then not delivering it for four seasons!

  3. Allan Belcher says:

    Fair enough. I’ve had that intro in my head since a movie/tv adaptation was first talked about. It was good to finally get it down on paper. I must admit I really enjoyed what you have written just as it is. I could see it in my head as I read it and I liked it! Sadly, unless a miracle happens, we will just have to continue to dream.
    Thanks again for the joy you have brought to many with your Pern stories over the years.

  4. Annette Smith says:

    Really enjoyed this – so well written and a great introduction. Made me wish for the movie / series more than ever! I like some of the clever little indicators that this is sci-fi not fantasy.
    Not so keen on the name change for F’nor (my favourite dragonrider) as the F is the indiciation that he and F’lar have the same father (as per Pernese naming conventions). Look forward to reading more on your site.

    • Faye Faye says:

      I don’t think the convention is hard and fast, and they’re well-established as brothers. It’s more important for them to be easily distinguished from each other for a new audience, especially when other characters are talking about them, and it would be easy to mishear – especially given how actors mumble their lines these days!

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