Sunday, 22 September 2013

Lawrence of Arabia, Yusuf ,and a camel called Suzy.

One of the most admired cinematic experiences of recent decades was the wonderful film +"LawrenceofArabia"  Directed by +DavidLean and starrring in the title role the fantastic +Peter O'Toole
 The music, +cinematography, acting,design and location  were sublime, so much so that the images  and sound track are as fresh today as the day they were released.

Set in the 1st World War the story ranged over that area known as the +MiddleEast, a wild and beautiful part of the world which , sadly, is still in a state of great political and religious  turmoil today.

Often in stories that reflect social upheaval the main concentration is on the heroes and the ones who were in some way responsible for bringing about peace or war.  The small person, the peasant, the ordinary citizen,  is quite often neglected and their plight ignored.

+TheSandrunners story is about one such peasant and  set before our intrepid Lawrence began his adventures in the area of +Egypt. It centres on a young man, Yusuf, who is employed at one of the many tomb excavations in Egypt, a site that is under the supevision of an English +Egypytologist, Francis Wetherby.

Wetherby is also a member of the newly formed New Olympic Committee whose purpose is to hold the very first of the new Olympics in Athens,in the year of 1896, at the original site of the ancient games.

What brings this wealthy, educated and sophisticated Englishman and a young Egyptian boy together to create an Olympic Gold Medal winning athlete is the story.  It also involves Egyptian Nationalism, Germany's secret plans to take over the Suez Canal, controlled by the British, Yusuf's plans to marry his childhood sweetheart Marelka and her family's opposition.
Complications are throw in Yusufs path as criminal charges  are brought against Wetherby,  he faces the class snobbery of the upper classes of Egypt and another complication of his own making is his insistance  to run in the Marathon with his great pal, his small camel called +Suzy.

During the course of the story Yusuf has to embrace a concept which is totally alien to him, the idea of sport, to compete against others for the pure pleasure of it, an idea that was completely unknown in those times in that area. His situation forces his hand and exposes him to great danger.
RJ Dodd

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Novels from scripts


Which started life as ..The SANDRUNNERS..The  Screenplay

 Why the transformation?

 It goes a long way back. .In my  career in the TV business I have read, dissected, examined, queried  and finally shot hundreds of scripts, these have mainly been Drama scripts, Scripts with long running series, so there is always a continuity of style to consider, Scripts for Comedy, Scripts for Documentaries, yes there are some..  and of course scripts for Commercials, along with the inevitable storyboard.

There has also been numerous scripts for Movies.

When my partner Mary Lou Clarke and I decided to write movie scripts we took a year out and went to live in an idyllic place in Northern Italy, right on the beach, in spite of the obvious diversions associated with such a location we did manage to set down a number of detailed storylines  and one of them was The Sandrunners. 

At the end of the year we had to get back to work ad returned to London, we finally finished the first draft of the screenplay and it looked fine…more drafts and it began to shape up, then we produced the final draft.

Producers loved it, mainly because it was visual, had young attractive leads, set in the Tombs of Egypt, had a troubled romantic theme and a frisky mischievous pet camel, Suzy.

It was set in 1896 ,the year of the first of the new Olympics to be staged in Athens and involved
Political intrigue, rising Egyptian Nationalism, class warfare,  death threats, corruption and the inevitable Committee to Stop Everything.

Why was it not made into a movie?.. Simple…     The very reasons Producers would not film it were the things they raved about.

Costume Drama.. expensive

Trained Animal...expensive

Foreign and somewhat hostile location… expensive and to be avoided.

70.000 crowd at the Olympic stadium in Athens...unthinkable,  all in costume.

Lead players were essentially foreign… hard to sell.

And so it went on.

The film script. Along with several others by this time was put back in the drawer and we moved on.

Then we had a wonderful idea. The script and all of the others were great stories, why not turn them into novels, so that more than just a dozen or so film Producers could read them ..

Terrific, Lets start with The Sandrunners….

Several years later, having lost what remained of my once flowing locks and nearing insanity we managed to turn out a passable novel, then we began the hard work of turning it into one that people might like to buy and read.

It was an unbelievably difficult task, writing a film script is much easier than writing a novel where visuals have to turned into description,  in an entertaining and interesting way,

Hopefully,   Mission Accomplished….We finally published The Sandrunners.

We now have to set about marketing the book, meanwhile three other scripts have painfully passed along the writers fallopian tube and made the transformation from fertilised egg of a Script to a book.

Be prepared for..

The Stack..  An Australian Family saga starting in the First World War and culminating, (Book 0ne) in modern times.

Maginty’s Quest…A great adventure story for the intelligent adventurous 11/12 year old, with Pirates, Exotic sea creatures, a besieged family in modern day London  and some dastardly crooks…and lots of Magic.

The Fiddler…aka    Sex Drugs and a String Quartet.. A young Italian farm boy with great musical talent wishes to join Mozart’s orchestra.

 This raunchy adventure takes the reader into deep dark places and encounters in the Venice and Rome of that period.

Was the effort worth it?..  absolutely..   and we also learned a few tricks about writing along the way.

Now, where did my hair go, it was around here twenty years and four books ago..

Monday, 2 September 2013

The Sandrunners


Odd title , how many people run in sand? Some athletes maybe, it is supposed to strengthen the legs and improve the Cardio Vascular system. In our story it is the way our hero Yusuf actually gets to work.

Along with his best pal, a young runt camel called Suzy, he runs from his tiny Egyptian village to an excavation site at one of the many  ancient temples in Egypt.

Why run? Not a lot of choice  because the year is 1896, not much in the way of community bus services in those days, no busses
To get to work there were two choices.  Walk or Run.

Which brings me to the nub of the story.

Yusuf is a sand boy at the site, along with his camel he hauls the  rubble away from the excavation, it is not a well paid job but it brings in a few pennies which help him and his widowed mother survive.
In the course of his daily running workout.Yusuf has developed into a major athlete , in a country where the concept of athletes is totally unknown.

The rest of the story you will have to read for yourselves but the idea of a young man from humble origins being able to change his world and that of the people around him by just simply running is one that appealed to my co- writer and co- creator Mary Lou Clarke and myself. 

In the modern era, ours it is possible for athletes from impoverished backgrounds to make vast amounts of money in the sporting arena but back in the Egypt of 1896 the possibility of that occurring was zilch.

Mary Lou and I are also fascinated by personal motivation and  in  this story, which, like all the others we will be publishing shortly, we try to depict the journey of discovery,  to get from the starting point in life to the final goal.
The journey of life really, which has many twists and turns, crossroads, highways and lonely track, which one to choose and why, where will the chosen  route lead.
The Sandrunners is the story of Yusufs journey.  
R.J Dodd