Dragonflight – A Pilot Screenplay
I set out to adapt the first part of Dragonflight into a TV pilot in early 2020 just for fun and screenplay writing practice. Click on the Download Script button to download the PDF.
You can also use the comments form on this page to discuss the screenplay and the loads and loads of sacriligious changes I’ve made. Jump down to read about why I decided to make some of them.
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.
Download the screenplay PDF
Here be spoilers
Don’t read this section before reading the script unless you want to be spoiled on some of the changes I’ve made!
Name changes and character consolidations
WATCH-WHER to WATCHER: Any made-up words are a big ask for a new viewer of a fantasy show, and the similar sounds of ‘wher’ and ‘Weyr’ would be especially confusing. (Is it a watch-weyr? Are they in Benden Wher?)
FAX > MERON: In Dragonflight, Fax is dead by page 50. Establishing a villain and then having him disappear after one episode is a waste of a character (and cast member). Meron serves almost the same function in Dragonquest, and so it makes sense to composite the two. The choice of Meron as his name rather than Fax serves two functions: it reduces the number of names starting with F- that litter Dragonflight (F’lar, F’nor, Fax), and it averts the titters around the main villain being called – well – Fax. (Are his brothers called Pager and Telex?)
F’NOR > D’NOR: Having two characters with very similar names is simply confusing – see above about F-names. Changing F’nor to D’nor makes them more distinct. (I know, it’s weird to me too).
GEMMA > JEMMA: A spelling change only, intended to make the connection to Jaxom’s name more clear.
TIG: Obviously this character doesn’t exist in canon – OR DOES HE? If you’re reading carefully you’ll figure out who he will become. Answers in the comments below!
LARTH WAS GREEN: Of course Larth was originally a green in Dragonflight before Anne decided to change her to a brown in later books. I’ve kept her green, because I don’t see that it makes the blindest bit of difference to Lytol’s character, and greens are underrepresented already.
KINSALE: Otherwise known as “Nip”, this is the given name of Robinton’s operative in Masterharper.
Other changes and additions
LORD KALE’S WRISTWATCH: Establishing that Pern isn’t just a stock pseudo-medieval fantasy world is crucial, and in a screenplay it has to be done visually. Dropping pieces of apparently anachronistic future technology and recognisable motifs like the DNA helix design at Benden into scenes does this nicely. Kale’s watch makes a visual connection between past and future, is a symbol of Ruathan authority, and foreshadows Jaxom and Ruth’s talent for time travel.
HIGH REACHES > NABOL: In canon Fax’s first and only legitimate Hold is High Reaches. Changing it to Nabol sets up that hold’s shady reputation, as well as being a function of compositing Fax and Meron.
ROBINTON AND C’GAN: This is barely a change from canon – it just expands on what we know from Masterharper of Pern – but it would make sense that Robinton’s main source of news from the Weyr is the Weyr Singer.
C’GAN AND L’TREL: L’trel is Mirrim’s blue-riding father in canon. Namedropping him as C’gan’s weyrmate both establishes the fact that same-sex relationships are normal within the Weyr, and sets up some backstory for Mirrim later.
C’GAN IN GENERAL: C’gan is the only dragonrider ever to die in Threadfall in (Anne) canon. He gets a lot of lovely development in Masterharper that makes this more poignant, but in Dragonflight he’s a bit We Barely Knew Him. He’s an obvious character to beef up in a screenplay and does a lot of heavy lifting both for the Weyr and the Harper Hall, as well as being set up as the Weyrlingmaster for Nemorth’s final clutch. Developing him makes his death all the more heartbreaking.
DRAGON SPEECH: Mnementh and the other dragons don’t get any dialogue at all in the early part of Dragonflight. This is something that comes later in the books, but I’ve inserted it now for clarity.
FAX (/MERON) DOESN’T DIE: As mentioned above, it’s a waste to set up a villain and then immediately dispose of him. Keeping the composite Fax/Meron alive and reducing him to Lord of Nabol keeps him as a recurring antagonist, both for later in Dragonflight when the Lords Holder march on Benden Weyr, and then again in Dragonquest when Meron’s machinations against the Weyr become a central plot point. It also keeps him around to create some daddy-issues drama with Jaxom.
F’LAR NOT PERVING ON LESSA: In canon, F’lar tries to rip Lessa’s dress off while she’s still unconscious and in her filthy rags, because he notices she’s actually young and pretty under the dirt. Gross. That one hit the cutting room floor so fast it practically went between to get there.
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Just dropping in to say: I really loved this, and would read the hell out of the rest of it, if it existed. (Or watch, in, you know, dream world.) Really well done!
This was absolutely fantastic!! I ALWAYS thought it should start with the invasion of Ruatha! It sets up sympathy, excitement, and has us rooting for revenge. This was amazingly done, so close to my own vision! I genuinely feel like this script almost writes itself! You should submit to WB and get the ball rolling!
Glad you liked it! It definitely didn’t write itself though :)) Unfortunately one doesn’t submit scripts to WB – it doesn’t work that way! I don’t own the option, so it’s just a fun quarantine what-if.
This was great and was sad when it was over. Well done and the changes made sense. Wish this would happen. Do you see people and CGI or all CGI?
We have so much more abilities today to create a perfect Pern.
Definitely live action and CGI. CGI-only pigeonholes it into animation which I don’t think has the mainstream appeal necessary – and to be honest I think it would skew heavily to interior people-scenes with the occasional dragon voiceover and even more occasional actual dragon shots. If anything I’ve been optimistic with the amount of screentime the dragons would get – especially as there’d be a lot of location CGI too, for the Holds and the Weyr. Thank you for reading!
Despite the changes, I think you’ve done a really commendable job at adapting the “Weyr Search” section of Dragonflight into a screenplay. I enjoyed reading it! I’m pretty sure who Tig is, too. Would love to read more!!
Glad you are writing a screenplay for DragonFlight. I have been reading pern stories since 1968.
Recently I contacted WarnerBros to find out why no pern movie has come out in 10 yrs. unfortunately the response I got is:
“With regards to the property DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN, Warner Bros. is not developing the property. Our rights to the books expired in 2017. I have no other information.
Thank you for your interest in Warner Bros. Pictures.
Office of Candice McDonough
So wonder if your screenplay will find a film in the cosmos. Hopefully