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Feature: Hogfather

Hog in the Limelight

The Hogfather cast

At last! Terry Pratchett’s Discworld gets the live-action treatment in this Christmas spectacular. We talk to the writer and cast…

Talk of a big screen version of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels followed within a few years of the first book, The Colour of Magic, hitting the shelves as sales figures went through the roof. Yet despite past ventures onto Radio 4 and into animation (for Channel 4), it’s taken 20 years for the first frames of live action film to be shot, for Sky One’s adaptation of the 1990s novel Hogfather.

“Probably the biggest barrier to things happening to Discworld is me,” comments Pratchett, who actually bought back the rights to the first two novels rather than see them rot in production hell. “I’m very, very cynical about the movies, but we’re not far from the end of the filming and it’s gone wonderfully as far as I’m concerned. I felt confident in what they were doing.” In fact, it’s gone so well that, Pratchett says, “There comes a point where you have to say, ‘It really looks great, guys, and now I’m going to watch it and enjoy’. Yes, they’ve been very happy to talk to me and listen and act on things I’ve said, but equally I don’t want to hang around all the time because sooner or later people are going to say, ‘Hold on a minute, we don’t come around your house next time you write a book and say, “That bit would be quite hard to film”’. There comes a point where you’ve got to say, ‘I really think these people have got it’.”

‘These people’ are led by writer and director Vadim Jean, perhaps best known for his quirky movie Leon, The Pig Farmer, who acknowledges the difficulties in bringing a Fantasy tale to the screen on a television budget. “When I adapted the book, we decided that really there ought to be a programme, a scriptwriting programme, where as you type, ‘The battle was long and furious,’ the cost of it should come up, ‘£150,000’.” he comments to laughter. “So you merrily write, ‘The raven flies through the door’ and you realize that’s two hours of CGI rendering and you’ve cost that much.”

To get round this, he explains, “One of the things that we’ve been doing is doing things in camera, by sleight of hand, whereas Hollywood would spend 10 times more money to achieve something that’s not as good.”

He is, he says, “Trying to give it a Discworld feel. My aim is for it to be faithful and truthful to the world in the books. I’ve made one small mistake so far which I’m really annoyed at, which I’m not going to tell you about, that Pratchett spotted. Other than that, I hope Terry forgives me for every now and then requesting information like, ‘I can’t get a wren for one particular shot, how would a lark work?’ We’ve had people out trying to catch one but they’re very uncooperative.

by Anthony Brown

Read the full feature and interviews in
Cult Times #135

Photo © Sky One
Feature © Visual Imagination 2006. Not for reproduction

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Cult Times #135, see below for ordering options
Cult Times #135
December 2006
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