a) Bragi Schut, the screenwriter of The Last Voyage of Demeter, wanted this film to be like that of Ridley Scott' Alien, telling the story from the point of view of the Russian crew. He was a also a huge fan of Ridley Scott's Alien as well as its sequel Aliens. He was trying to do a story like Alien, but found it very hard to do anything in space with a creature and not be compared to Alien, and so he started to explore other venues. He was working as a model maker at Digital Domain, and one of the men in the model shop had worked on Bram Stoker's Dracula, and showed Bragi his portfolio one day and Bragi saw that there was a model of the ship in the portfolio that he thought was a wonderful model, an old ship with sails covered in blood. He just stared at this model and suddenly saw a way to do his monster movie
b) There was a struggle with nature of the vampire in the development of the script, because people are so usd to Dracula being personified as this learned, intellectual, conflicted passionate person. There was the Gary Oldman version of the over sexualized vampire version from the Hammer films who was a tormented half man/half monster. But in Demeter he really wanted to avoid all of this and make him this animalistic force that is feeding off the crewmembers until it reaches its ultimate destiny.
c) This probably comes from the fact that he really wanted to do something that was a monster movie. And to him the most primal elemental terrifying monster he could think of was something that didn't have any vestige of humanity in it. It was purely something that would devour its victim because it needed sustenance.
d) However, the only glimmer of humanity the creature ever shows is at the very end of the script when it comes face to face with the female crew-member. There's a moment where the creature looks at her and seems to hesitate. Her face seems to stir some dim memory in him. That moment was meant to acknowledge that there was a soul underneath all that but it was a bit of an afterthought, and it didn't fit in much with the tone of the rest of the script in which it is purely an animal.
e) In 2012, Neill Marshall was tied to it as director for a while with Viggo Mortensen in a role of
Henry Clemens, while Ben Kingsley still is being considered for the role of the ship’s captain. There were even rumors that Prometheus star Noomi Rapace was interested in the part of Anna Billington. A later draft was written by Lowell Cauffiel. In 2015, David Slade was tied to the project as director.
See: "Neil Marshall on Alien and Prometheus"
See also "The tale of a dead body of a captain found but crew missing"
- Q - So, a moment from an Ingmar Bergman film inspired SEASON OF THE WITCH. How did LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER come about?
Bragi Schut - I'm a huge huge fan of Ridley Scott's ALIEN, as well as [the sequel] ALIENS. I was trying to find a way to do a story like ALIEN, but different. And it's very hard to do anything in space with a creature and not be compared to ALIEN. So I started exploring other venues. At the time I was working as a model maker at Digital Domain. One of the guys in the model shop had worked on BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA. He was showing me his portfolio one day and I saw that there was a model of the ship in the portfolio.
It was a wonderful model, just beautiful... This old ship with sails covered in blood. I was just staring at this model and suddenly I saw a way to do my monster movie.
Q - You mentioned that you actually wrote LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER before SEASON OF THE WITCH. A lesser-known fact about the Nicholl Fellowship is that you can’t enter a script based on material from another writer. Since DEMETER is rooted in Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, it could not be entered. (I am acutely aware of this because one of my own scripts, THE SLEEP OF REASON, which I had considered submitting to Nicholl, is also based on the Stoker novel.) Had you originally intended to enter DEMETER?
Bragi Schut - I actually did enter DEMETER. And I was crushed when I never heard back. It didn't even make it into the Quarterfinal round. I found out after the fact about that rule. Who knows whether that had anything to do with it or not. I'd like to think it did.
Q - Both SEASON OF THE WITCH and LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER appear to arise out of situation, the former from a premise of knights transporting a woman to be judged a witch by the Church; the latter about the un-described sea voyage Count Dracula made on his trip to England in the Stoker story. Many screenwriters claim that they write from character, rather than from situation or plot. I have gone on record (in this space, and in my book on screenwriting) as saying that I prefer the situation/plot approach, but I will use whatever works, given the project, and I have. Do you prefer plot over character as a starting point?
Bragi Schut - That's an interesting question. I've never thought about that much. I guess if I had to analyze my own scripts, I would say that it's been a mix of plot and character. SEASON OF THE WITCH and THE LAST VOYAGE OF THE DEMETER are both clearly situational as you pointed out. But I have another spec that's kicking around right now that started with more of a character concept.
Q – Without giving too much away, I noticed that your conception of Dracula in DEMETER is far closer to his physical presence in one of the earliest versions of DRACULA, F.W. Murnau’s 1922 silent film, NOSFERATU. And he resembles the vampire (Barlow) from the 1979 version of SALEM’S LOT. But with that as a starting point, what you do with it is closer to ALIEN than it is Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee. I loved how much mystery and menace you brought to the story. So what led to that “take” on your villain? And if you are able, can you say whether that approach is in the current production?
Bragi Schut - We actually struggled with that in the development of the script. Because people are so used to Dracula being personified as this learned, intellectual, conflicted passionate person. The Gary Oldman version. Or the over sexualized vampire version from the Hammer films. The tormented half man/half monster. But in Demeter I really wanted to avoid that stuff and make him this animalistic force that is feeding off the crewmembers until it reaches its ultimate destiny.
That probably comes from the fact that I really wanted to do something that was a monster movie. And to me the most primal elemental terrifying monster I could think of was something that didn't have any vestige of humanity in it. It was purely something that would devour you. Something that would eat you because it needed sustenance.
The only glimmer of humanity the creature ever shows is at the very end of the script when it comes face to face with the female crew-member. There's a moment where the creature looks at her and seems to hesitate. Her face seems to stir some dim memory in him. That moment was meant to acknowledge that there was a soul underneath all that but it was a bit of an afterthought, frankly, and doesn't fit in much with the tone of the rest of the script in which it is purely an animal. (http://thelastreveal.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/an-interview-with-screenwriter-bragi_10.html)
Le script s’inspire du roman de Bram Stoker, Dracula,
et se focalisera sur le navire qui transporte le vampire depuis la
Transylvanie. Dans le texte original, le navire arrive en Angleterre
mais tout l’équipage a disparu sauf le capitaine dont le corps est
attaché à la barre. Bragi Schut, le scénariste de The Last Voyage of Demeter, a voulu que ce fillm soit comme celui de Ridley Scott pour Alien, racontant l’histoire du point de vue de l’équipage russe. (Translation :
The script is inspired by the novel by Bram Stoker, Dracula, and
focuses on the ship that transports the vampire from Transylvania. In
the original text, the ship arrived in England but all the crew
disappeared except the captain whose body is attached to the helm. Bragi
Schut, the screenwriter of The Last Voyage of Demeter, wanted this
fillm to be like that of Ridley Scott for Alien, telling the story from
the point of view of the Russian crew.
(Read more at http://unificationfrance.com/article20631.html#2azSpMxYbv008Yzp.99)
- Some interesting news landed on our doorstep for Millenium Films’ The Last Voyage of the Demeter, the ex-Summit/Sony Screen Gems project that’s been in development hell since 2004. Movement was confirmed back in May when Dog Soldiers, Doomsday and The Descent‘s
Neil Marshall was attached to direct. Now we’ve got more from the ship
that carried Dracula’s coffin from Transylvania to England.
Although yet to be confirmed, we’re told Ben Kingsley is still attached to play the film’s Captain. In addition, Viggo Mortensen (A History of Violence, The Road, The Lord of the Rings) has been offered the lead role of “Henry Clemens,” a source exclusively reveals to Bloody. There’s no real word on Noomi Rapace, coming off Prometheus, other than she “may” still be starring as “Anna Billington.” I can only guess it comes down to scheduling, especially with a movie that’s been stuck ashore for nearly a decade.
The latest draft was written by Lowell Cauffiel and is said to place the voyage center stage in a tale that is reminiscent of the first movie in the Alien franchise, in which a crew is slaughtered one-by-one by a mysterious passenger. (http://bloody-disgusting.com/news/3149481/viggo-mortensen-offered-lead-in-dracula-tale-the-last-voyage-of-the-demeter)