Dark Mirages is a new book presenting unproduced screenplays by writers with genre credentials, each with a story behind it.
In my case Dracula was commissioned by the BBC and cancelled, unread, on the
very day that I delivered the script. The producers were Deep Indigo
working with BBC Wales.
My angle was that nobody had 'done' the book properly since Gerald
Savory's 1970s adaptation. Dracula is a work that's often plundered
and rarely honoured. Stoker never gets the respect that's
automatically accorded to an Austen, an Eliot, or a Hardy, maybe
because he wrote an instinctive classic rather than a cerebral one.
Things would have to change, as in adaptations they always do. But
for me the guiding motivation would always be the question, What was
Stoker getting at, here?
I won't insult you by explaining how the novel is a collage of
second-hand perceptions, cast in the form of letters, journals, and
dictated notes from the principal characters. The character of Count
Dracula is offstage for much of the novel, which adds to his mystery
and enhances his credibility.
Because of this approach, you don't get Count Dracula's version of
the events. You can work it out by a kind of literary triangulation,
but I've never seen it done and still come out as Stoker. Dracula's
role gets rewritten, as if his character somehow isn't integral, nor
needs to be rendered with any fidelity to the author.
usually get is either a romantic rapist or, if the makers want to
signal that they've seen Nosferatu, a hideous cockroach.
Rarely has anyone made a serious attempt to show us Stoker's
nasty-minded, empty-hearted predator, who insists to his dissipated
party-girl 'brides' that he's capable of love, and then goes on to
prove at great length that he isn't.
It was the fastest, fiercest script I've ever written. We opened a
discussion with Vincent Cassel's people, for our Dracula of choice.
And as my script made its way to Cardiff a drama executive in London
heard of a proposed ITV version over lunch and cancelled our project
that same afternoon.
We had a completed script, we were way ahead.
The other project didn't even have a writer yet. But the news took
over a week to reach us, during which time the producers of the ITV
project got out a press announcement and effectively bombed the
There's a coda. About two years later, the BBC financed ITV's
version and screened it as their own. I didn't - couldn' t -
watch, but the general opinion seems to be that it was not great.
So there's that.