Ask anyone who is into comics or mythology fantasy about Neil Gaiman and the recommendations and any other forms of raving or proclamation might in all probability run endlessly.

Neil Gaiman would probably be most well known for his creation of Sandman, the entity that is in charge of the realm of Dreams. His blend of mythology with famous literature, religion and modern issues will probably impress even non-comic fans. The sheer numbers of reprints on his Sandman books is an undeniable testament of his creation’s popularity.

Beside comics, Neil Gaiman also branches out to writing novels and his books American Gods and Coraline are all best sellers.

In early July, Neil Gaiman finally made his way down to Singapore for a three-day visit, giving talks and doing numerous signing for his fans. Particularly on the 4th of July, he was at the British Council for a press conference and we were lucky enough to be invited for the conference. Part of this writeup contains information that was presented by Neil Gaiman at the talk held at Orchard Library, organized by the good people of British Council.

Now why are we focusing on a comic and novel writer in a Movie Exclusive web page?

There has been an influx of comic tales and characters being brought forth to the big screen recently and besides famous comic creative writers such as Alan Moore (From Hell and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and Frank Miller (Sin City), Neil Gaiman’s works in the comics genre are considered by many as important and as superior as the abovementioned creators. It is worth the effort to check out the happenings between Neil and Hollywood.

“Hollywood is very weird”, his comments came in an exasperated tone. He even joked about that he got to be the author who has had the most write ups purchased by Hollywood but none eventually made into a film.

Good Omens

One of the most heart wrenching “failure to lift off” film project experience that he shared with us would be Good Omens. One of his earlier works, a novel that he wrote with Terry Pratchet about the end of the world with characters such as a young anti-christ, angel, demon and a doomsaying witch all mixed together with distinctive British humour was ready to be brought to the silver screen.

Framed Brazilian director of 12 Monkeys and the upcoming the Brothers Grimm, Terry Gilliam, was involved with the Good Omens production. Terry Gilliam went around scouting for investors who were willing to pump in 60 million for this film project and managed to raise more than half of the required budget. However as no US distributors were willing to chip in for the rest of the remaining budget, and without the support of the US distributors, that somewhat spells an end for this production.

When Neil Gaiman mentioned that Johnny Depp was even set to be taking on the lead role in this shelved Good Omens film production, a collective gasp, followed by a disappointing sigh radiated from the audience.

Mirror Mask

Nevertheless, things are starting to look good for Neil. The story that he co-created with Dave McKean, MirrorMask, has finally been approved by Sony Pictures and the Jim Henson Company two years ago which caused Neil Gaiman to postpone his visit to Singapore then.

MirrorMask had its first screening at the January’s Sundance Film Festival and will be set for release for the US audience with limited screening on 30th September 2005.

For those who want to know more about MirrorMask, basically this story tells about how young Helena, who wishes to run away from her family of circus entertainers to live in a real life, found herself trapped in a dream filled with strange creatures and in order to leave nightmarish realm, she had to seek an object called MirrorMask to find her way home.

The Trailer is available for viewing on Yahoo Movies. Currently there is no news on whether this film will be hitting the Singapore screen but we will keep you posted as soon as any information surfaces.


Besides MirrorMask, another work, which he had written that seems promising enough to finally make it onto big screen, would be Beowulf.

Beowulf, based upon a tale from a sixth century poem about a young Norse warrior’s medieval adventure and blood-soaked battle with his greatest archenemy, Grendel. Beowulf was said to be one of the tales that inspired J. R. R. Tolkien with the creation of Lords of the Rings.

Neil Gaiman mentioned that the Beowulf project had been picked up by director Robert Zemeckis's and filming will commence in September / October 2005 with Anthony Hopkins as one of the cast member.
The technique used for Beowulf would be similar to Robert Zemeckis’s The Polar Express, using the same type of 3D motion capture techniques to digitally record the facial performances of the actors and animating them later. Neil Gaiman added that Robert Zemeckis is confident to produce an even better animation compared to The Polar Express after having experience with this technology.

Death: The High Cost of Living

Last but not least, the film that might see Neil Gaiman taking up the chores of directing next year would be his spin-off creation from Sandman, the elder sister of the Dream King, Death.

For those who are new to Neil Gaiman’s comics or endless family, Neil Gaiman’s Death is not the Grim Reaper that most people are accustomed to. Instead he created a female Death, one who is chirpy, considerate, and strangely attractive to a lot of his readers. In fact, there are a few people who feel that at the end of the day, if it would be Neil Gaiman’s Death that they will be facing, death itself would be less fearful and on the contrary, something to look forward to.

The first miniseries that Neil Gaiman wrote with Death as the main character was Death: The High Cost of Living. In that series, for every century, Death will become mortal for one day and we follow her encounters with a teenager who is bored with life and two other shady mortals.

Now while I wasn’t able to ask any questions during the press conference, I did approach him after the conference was over and asked him who would be his ideal choice actress to portray his version of Death in the movies if time and money was not a constrain. His reply was that it would be rather difficult to say even if money was not a question and since Death: The High Cost of Living had been optioned for, he couldn’t really said as casting might be on going at that point of time.

However he mentioned if time was not of any constrain, he would very much like a young Audrey Hepburn to play Death. His reply left me nodding in agreement.  

Reported by Richard Lim | Photos & Layout by: Lokman BS

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