Regular blog readers will know that Rocketboy has been on the cards for many years – it was in fact the genesis of ‘Gone Fishing’.
Over the years and between other projects, we have written draft after draft, attempting to nail it – each time we would get so close, but never quite get all the way there. All the ingredients of the story (for me at least) were brilliant and the way in which they weave together kept readers you engaged… but still we felt something was not right.
The answer turned out to be rather simple.
The problem was tone.
We nailed this tonal problem last week when, with fresh eyes, we sat down and watched ‘Bridge To Terabithia’ together. For me, ‘Terabithia’ was as close to ‘Rocketboy’ as any film that I had seen. Of course a it’s a very different story, but it’s shares a common central theme – a boy and girl meeting and developing a ‘first’ relationship, living that time through their own magical reality world. It has that same charm.
‘Terabithia’ captured that very specific time in my life with authenticity. The transition from boy to teenager. It also captured the simple joy of being young, the summertime and discovering the world around you. No high stakes conflict, no world to save, just discovery of the world, community and self.
‘Rocketboy’ has all of that too. But it was weighted down by drama with the adults.
What struck me about Terabithia was that every scene was taken from the kids perspective. There were no scenes with just adults. And when the adult problems and themes bled into the kids world they were explored from the young persons perspective.
We took inspiration from this ‘view’ and shifted the tone of ‘Rocketboy’ – no scene could feature just adults. When grown up stuff needed to happen, we would re-tool it literally from the perspective of our 13 year old leads, Connor and Becky.
It’s been a breath a fresh air, with page after page being cut, or rewritten into simpler, less heavy narrative. Suddenly the young characters are jumping off the page with their love of life and crazy mad ideas.
As much as I love ‘Stand By Me’, that’s a film for older people remembering childhood – that’s where ‘Rocketboy’ was headed in the past, and it wasn’t working. Like Terabithia, ‘Rocketboy’ is now a film about childhood for children.
You can follow updates to Rocketboy on the Facebook page here… http://www.facebook.com/ProjectRocketboy
Onwards and upwards!