One-man ILM

George R. R. Mar­tin in an inter­view with the New York Times:

Did you con­ceive of “A Game of Thrones” as a reac­tion to Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” novels?

I always wanted to do some­thing in epic fan­tasy. But not just to rehash Tolkien. I wanted to do some­thing to make it my own. To some extent, the project was also a reac­tion to my own Hol­ly­wood career. I was out there for 10 years, from roughly 1985 to 1995. I was on staff on “The Twi­light Zone” and “Beauty and the Beast” as a writer-​​producer, and then I did about five years of devel­op­ment, doing pilots for shows of my own and some fea­ture film scripts. The theme of that whole period for me was, I would always turn in my first draft to what­ever net­work or stu­dio or pro­ducer I was work­ing for and the reac­tion was inevitably, “George, this is great. It’s ter­rific, it’s a won­der­ful read, thanks. But it’s three times our bud­get. We can’t pos­si­bly make it. It’s too big and it’s too expensive.”

Then what would happen?

So then I would go in and I would start cut­ting. I would com­bine char­ac­ters and trim out giant bat­tle scenes, make it pro­duce­able. Although the later drafts of those scripts were always more pol­ished, because I’d revised them sev­eral times, my favorites were always the first drafts, which had all the good stuff in it which I had to take out because it was too expen­sive and too big. When I returned to prose, which had been my first love, in the 90s, I said I’m going to do some­thing that is just as big as I want to do. I can have all the spe­cial effects I want. I can have a cast of char­ac­ters that num­bers in the hun­dreds. I can have giant bat­tle scenes. Every­thing you can’t do in tele­vi­sion and film, of course you can do in prose because you’re every­thing there. You’re the direc­tor, you’re the spe­cial effects coor­di­na­tor, you’re the cos­tume depart­ment, and you don’t have to worry about a budget.

“…because you’re every­thing there.”

August 2012 update—a dash of Neal Stephenson:

Do you think there will always be a place for the big novels that you write?

Oh yeah. There’s no doubt that the medium is here to stay. People like big stories. You get unmatched bang for the buck writing stories. The bang in this case is being able to plant a big universe and a lot of powerful images inside a reader’s head. The buck in this case is that there’s one person working alone without needing any special tools. That’s not going to change. They may be delivered in different ways, on e-readers or whatever, but they will be around for a long time.

April 2011, San Francisco


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