The Honor Harrington book series, originally reported by author David Weber as beginning preproduction for the leap to the silver screen back in September of 2012, is making some significant headway. In a post made to the forum pages on his web site, David Weber identified Evergreen Films of Los Angeles as the production partner. Honor of the Queen has been selected as the first book to make the leap from print to film.
Discussions are still in the early stages. Mike Devlin, Evergreen’s CEO, is himself a huge Honor fan, which is part of why Evergreen snapped up the project. Weber and Devlin have been discussing Honor’s character and the Honorverse in great depth, and it became very clear to Weber during his visit to Los Angeles these past few weeks that character and good solid storytelling will be the guiding principle, with the effects and animation being secondary. This doesn’t mean it won’t be some cutting edge film making, though.
Evergreen has a proprietary software system that combines previsualization and on-the-set style production techniques which lets them do all the scene blocking with digital stand-in actors, sets, camera angles and lighting before they ever actually shoot a single scene. They call it the Prototyper. In Weber’s words, “The only other folks who have anything even remotely similar at this point are James Cameron and George Lucas, and Evergreen’s is newer and takes advantage of intervening advances. What I’m trying to say here is that it’s really, really cool.”.
So much attention and care is being given to preserving the spirit of the Honor Harrington project that Weber is tightly integrated into the film’s creation process. Evergreen wants to make sure that they don’t accidentally break anything about the character, or the story, expecially the relationship between Honor and Nimitz. Even the art direction is being given careful attention. Patrick Tatopolous has been tapped as Art Director (who’s worked on Stargate, Underworld and I, Robot). Scott Kroopf, Evergreen’s chief creative officer, will be producing this film as well. His credits including The Chronicles of Riddick, Pitch Black, and The Last Samurai.
In his forum post, Weber states that “the number one issue is going to be bringing Nimitz to the screen and integrating his relationship with Honor into the screenplay in a way which will allow people not already familiar with the books to recognize that Nimitz is far more than simply a pet. I’m sure nobody will be surprised to learn that the ‘Evergreen Nimitz’ isn’t going to look exactly like anything we’ve already seen in print. Partly, that’s because Evergreen is going to be able to do things in terms of modeling musculature, skeleton, facial expression, the movement of ears, etc., that simply can’t be done by a cover artist. Partly it’s because movies are such an intensely visual environment that they almost have to do more in developing the treecats’ physical appearance because of how long he’s going to be on-screen and how critical his relationship with Honor actually is.”
Established fans are also going to have to deal with changes in the physical appearance of the ships. The Honorverse ships as described in the books, and the illustrations BuNine produced for House of Steel were designed around a particular set of constraints imposed by the physics of the Honorverse. The ships in the books all tended to look alike. In a visual medium, though, the audience will need to be able to quickly differentiate between one type of ship and another, and between one navy and another, from purely visual cues. Design changes, while deviating from the established traits in the books, are necessary for film (or nobody will be able to tell at a glance which ship belongs to whom).
As with many new creative works, Evergreen is planning to go transmedia with the Honorverse as a whole. They hope to make multiple movies, a graphic novel to be produced by Top Cow, an iOS/Android game to be created by Idle Minds in Colorado (to be released in early 2014) and more in-depth gaming experiences later on. The graphic novel — Tales of Honor — will be written by Matt Hawkins of Top Cow with significant editorial input from David Weber, with Season 1 of the graphic novel to be released in “traditional” format by Top Cow in January 2014 with the digital comic released through Comixology. Season 2 would be scheduled for July-November 2014, Season 3 for a January-May 2015 schedule, and with ongoing expansion beyond that as they get closer to (and possibly following) the movie release date.
Evergreen will be attending Honorcon in Greenville this November, at which time they’ll be prepared to present a quick “script teasers/where we stand” panel, along with “work in progress” artwork for sets, costumes, etc.; work in progress on the graphic novel; a preview of the initial iOS/Android game; and a preview of the Honor Harrington movie site. They’ll also be there for the specific purpose of soliciting fan input.
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