Jim Visits the Dresden Files TV Movie Set

Word from Jim on his trip to Canada to the set where they’re filming the Dresden Files television movie!

Okay then!
First of all, let me tell you this outright: Canada is not the USA.
I know. It’s such a shock.
We get on so well, you’d think they’d be just like us, but they aren’t. It’s like walking in and finding out that your college roomie wears pink silk panties. (Unless you happen to have been a girl at college, in which case that’s to be expected.) It isn’t threatening, but it IS sort of odd.
Anyway. It’s weird there, or at least in Toronto. It’s clean. You can walk around the darkened streets after midnight without being unduly worried about getting Wayned by some mugger, if the number of women walking around alone after midnight was any indication. They have enough plow trucks to handle the snow. Oklahoma City gets four inches of snow and everything stops for at least a day, or until it turns 90 degrees, whichever comes first–they only have ONE snow truck. Toronto has 3500. That’s a 350,000% increase over Oklahoma. When you buy something at the grocery store, you can see racks and racks of cigarettes behind the counter, and every single one of them has a picture of someone’s dissected blackened lungs or a picture of a smoker in the terminal stages of lung cancer or something. It’s as though they think the cigarettes are BAD for you.
And then there’s the metric system. Don’t even get me started.
But then, travel is supposed to broaden the mind. And I didn’t get cursed by a witch doctor while there, so it’s up on Brazil already. Sorry, Brazil. I know my good opinion is of paramount importance to each and every one of you, but I have standards. My planes all took off and landed with fully functioning electronics and hydraulics, and WITHOUT me being so sick that I didn’t really care if we crashed, so it’s up on Mexico. Sorry, Mexico. Brazil might buy you a round at the bar if you sit next to them. Misery, company.
Okay, on to the set.
Hundreds of people involved, literally. They were shooting scenes in Harry’s apartment while we were there, in a studio apartment with a loft. For an apartment, it was pretty huge, and for Harry’s apartment it was positively cavernous, but see above re: HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE. “Only” about thirty or forty were actually inside the apartment, but especially in the shots that had cameras panning and moving around, those thirty or forty people had to squeeze into the approximately two hundred cubic inches that weren’t actually in the shot. They actually screamed things like, “We’re shooting, run and hide!” and “Everybody not necessary GET OUT INTO THE SNOW,” and “DAMMIT BUTCHER BUMPED INTO THE LIGHT SWITCH AGAIN! SOMEONE PUT HIM IN A DIRECTORS CHAIR IN THE CORNER AND TELL HIM ITS BECAUSE WE LIKE HIM!”
Here’s something you might not know: making a movie is, like, BORING. There is a phenomenal amount of work being done by a whole bunch of different people, things to coordinate, problems to solve, visiting authors to clean up after, and all of that means that you can’t shoot any faster than your slowest work area can get set up. You spent a LOT of time waiting around, unless you’re the director or assistant director or producer, all of whom never have enough time to do everything they need to do. And when they DO shoot a shot, they do it several times. Then they move the cameras closer and do it again. Then they move the cameras to closeups and do it AGAIN. And THEN they turn the cameras to a different angle and do the whole process AGAIN. We were on the set for maybe 8 hours total, and I think I saw them get maybe forty five seconds or so of movie filmed.
I got to meet several of the actors: Harry, Susan, Morgan, the toad demon. They were awfully busy and had little time to hang out and chat. But hey, I was bumbling through the middle of where THEY worked and not the other way around, so that’s cool. Especially since they’d been shooting 18 hour days for two weeks. The set doesn’t even get LUNCH until 6 pm.
(Which was actually really good. I’ve been to catered banquets where the food wasn’t that good.)
I also got to meet Hans and Robert, writers/producers, and they were really great guys. Much jocularity was had. Robert says that movie crews are like armies: they work on their stomachs. Which explains the good food. Robert showed us all over the place: we got to see costumes, talk to stuntfolks, mooch bottled water, chat with special effects guys, and in general get a quick run through all of it. I also got to see some of the dailies (the footage from the scenes they’d already filmed). They were very nifty.
In speaking to Robert and Hans and dozens and dozens of other people, I realized something really neat: they care. Over and over, I heard from the folks there: “most of the time we’re working, it’s just a job. But on this set, everyone thinks we’re doing something really neat, and it shows in their work.” Which was really exciting. I mean, it’s amazing enough that I get to say “they’re making a movie of my book!” But it’s looking like I’ll get to say, “they’re making a GOOD movie of my book!” which is far more rare. Go go gadget internet alias. 🙂
Best for last, of course: the movie itself.
I can’t tell you very much, cause that’s SciFi’s thing. What I CAN tell you is that I /really/ dug how well the actors were working together and playing off each other. Paul has this Harrison Ford-esque ability to display enormous amounts of character via expression alone, especially in his reactions to other actors and in subtle inflections on his lines. He occasionally ad libs, does smartass well, is really funny, and everyone I spoke to about him told me what a nice guy he was. I got to see him across from Susan and Murphy in some of their scenes, and they were really cool. (Morgan’s actor does a /really/ great job, too. I think they’re gonna make this a fairly cool production, all in all.)
Paul’s American accent is excellent, and by all reports he’d been working hard at it for a while. You can only tell he’s doing an accent because it sounds “interesting.” I mean, there’s nothing you can point a finger at and say “hey, he’s a brit doing a yank” but something about it sounds very distinctive and gives him a unique sound–much like Hugh Laurie (House). Great voice, too, much like James Marsters, very expressive. 🙂 But he would flip from “American” back to “British” without batting an eye, and it was a little tiny bit disconcerting.
I didn’t get to meet Murphy’s actor or Kirmani’s (who is replacing Carmichael) or Bianca’s, or Ancient Mai’s, but I hear very good things about them. In the dailies I got to see both Murphy and Ancient Mai working. She was wonderful playing across from Paul, and I have no idea how Mai’s actress (who weighs about 90 pounds) manages to radiate quite that much menace. Very nifty.
I confess one major disappointment. I did not get to meet Mister’s actor. He was supposed to be on set that day, but shooting went kinda slow and he wasn’t needed. They actually found a freaking 30 pound trained movie cat. Ginger, just gorgeous, and frigging huge. Apparently the cat only knew one trick: STAY. But he was very good at that one. Quite the filming trooper by all reports, as well, and easy to get along with. That’s the kind of thing that cannot be overappreciated.
The script itself is very close to Storm Front’s–not identical by any means, but if I had written Storm Front the same way, I’d have been fine with it. The script captures the spirit of the book pretty well, which is very groovy. I’ve even been able to provide some feedback on the script, pointing out a few things that I thought could be stronger, and they actually listened to me. See above, re: internet alias.
I have some pictures on my camera if I can get them off of it, though I’m not sure I can share any of the “on stage” pictures. Have to talk to SciFi about that. I’ll try to get some of them to Fred so he can make them available. I got one of me holding Dresden’s hockey stick! 🙂

40 thoughts on “Jim Visits the Dresden Files TV Movie Set”

  1. Jim Butcher was *there*?! Oh, man — now I’m peeved. I work literally around the corner from where the set was shooting, and came *this close* to asking if I could be given a tour a couple of times before the Christmas break.
    (Looks like they wouldn’t have given it to me, from the sound of things, but man. I’m looking forward to playing my usual “Spot the location” game with all productions filmed in Toronto.)
    Glad you like Toronto, Jim. Last year we made a pretty decent stab at becoming Detroit 🙁 , but it’s good to know our best face is still visible to visitors.

  2. JB,
    I was hoping I wasn’t coming off like a drunken cat with a hemorrhaging bladder urinating over everything in sight. That wasn’t my intent.
    I know you have way much more hedged with this than any of us. Believe me it is not my intent to compare and contrast.. last I checked, life is kind of a big deal and, well, you’re living your dream. I understand that and only want to see the very best come of all this for you and your family.
    Why? Well, I’m a fan.. if you’re the happy author then there’s more chances that you’ll crank out more episodes about that wiley wizard we’ve all grown to know and love (yes, in that way).
    And if there’s anything possible for me to offer you from this, let it be that me and everyone else on this board is not only hoping for the best but will voice our support to Sci-Fi as we vote with our TV’s and TiVo’s when “The Dresden Files” finally airs.
    (Even if Nathan Fillion isn’t playing “Harry”… I never heard anyone mention his name before and he should’ve been a slam dunk for it, in my ever so humble opinion)
    And we’ll voice our support to you by purchasing your books, cause, as a fan, that’s part of the deal too.
    Trust me man, we want to see this turn out well too. At least, as much as we can being a fan.
    All the best to you and your family in 2006.. I’m no psychic but ’06 has got plenty of change in store.
    – MC

  3. What…where are they filming in Toronto? I LIVE in Toronto. Wow. *hyperventilates* Must be either near the Lakeshore…there are the factory lofts, or maybe the candy lofts (former candy factory revamped) or blahhhhh…. I don’t know. I’m excited. Is this show-television-movie thing only going to be broadcasted in the US? Glad you like Canada, by the way…elections are on there way at the moment. Love your Dresden File books, a friend recently recommended it to me. Thank goddess, your name is memorable and simple. Or else I would have never remembered to pick up your books from the bookstore.

  4. Just wanted to pop by and say congratulations on things moving forward, when i first heard about the serie/movie some year back or whatever it was i didn’t really know if it would happen. Happy it did and even if i almost without exception prefer the book when a movie is based on books it will certainly be an interesting thing to see.
    If the next book is as good as the last one was, as the case seems to be (how could it not?) i will have a enjoyable evening+night reading the book (yes, i can never put something good down before it’s over and done with). Even if i did dislike Dead Beat coming out in hardback only at start, or atleast that was the only thing i could get my hands on here in Sweden (my poor collection is looking mighty funny with paperbacks and one huge hardback). Enough of my rambling, again i hope this turns out to be a success and get PG published. Seriously, i can’t wait. *sighs* 😉
    – Jojia

  5. Someone in one of the past posts mentioned that they thought that Nathan Fillion would have been a slam dunk for playing Harry. Even though I agree,,,,I’m glad he wasn’t considered (because then he wouldn’t be available for Fire Fly when they bring it back to T.V.).
    JIM BUTCHER: please be careful regarding this show. I loved all the books and hope that the T.V. Movie/series will do the books justice. The reason I say to be careful is,,,even if the show is great, you have to watch out for the incompetent T.V. execs!!! They do smart things like air shows out of order and change time slots with no regard for a show’s targeted audience. Case in point: Fire fly (a fantastic show that has been cancelled for those exact reasons).
    So, be careful, good luck and I love your work!

  6. Pictures, Where’s the pictures man!!! I have got to see what the actor thats playing Harry looks like… It’s bad enough that Harry’s personality is almost a carbon copy of myself and my best friend…although, it would be interesting if he did look like my friend… The two are both about 6ft6in, thin, and have a thing for long coats… Now all I need to know is when and where I need to be to watch it.

  7. This is the first I have heard about a series/movie based on the books. I am a new fan and in the space of three months read everthing about Dresden. I have already read all four preview chapters of the next book and can’t wait. If anyone finds out when the movie/series is scheduled to air please, please, post it. I wouldn’t want to miss it.

  8. question/concern… i’ve been checking online for more info on the project and i’ve found a few sites that refer to harry as eric. please, dont tell me the name had to be changed for tv!

  9. Great work. And I don’t mean this in the typical ” Hey, you deserve a cold one.” kind of way. I mean this the way people first comming across their first really good steak dinner prepared by someone with a flair for presentation. Like the second time you see a fantastic play and have the chance to really pay attention to the dialoge you missed the first time around. I could go on in this vein for a while but you probably have seen this type of digital adoration before. Let’s just say that I am soooo glad that the book club I belong to had you as a featured author and I am at the same time upset that they do not have all of your books available at this time.( Don’t you hate it when you can’t get exactly what you want the very moment you want it? Yeah, me to.) I have to go to an actual real life bookstore and deal with the masses of unwashed zombie-like fanboys slobbering on the undoubtedly few remaining copies of your books. I hate slobber on a book; makes them hard to read. Hope you are having a great whatever.

  10. I sometimes wonder if Roger Zelazny thought they were making a GOOD movie version of “Damnation Alley”…

  11. Congratulations on getting The Dresden Files to TV!! As with everyone else (including Jim), I hope they are just as good on telly as they are in my head!
    I just hope a TV channel here in Australia buys the rights to show it. I’ve only just found a book store who gets the books in without me having to order them!!

  12. Will we even get to see this tv/movie deal in the uk? Should I start getting excited or should I postpone that excitement for the time being or kill it completely and bury it whole?

  13. i now i’m a little late but first i want to say i love your books there like flippin crack. i read the whole series in like a week and i’m in 8 th grade and have like 4 hours of homework a night. my one a single and terrible comment is when is it gonna be on T.V!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! nmy family askes me every day so i just was wonderingif i would get a response thanx

  14. I can’t wait to see Scifi’s take on the whole series. Just another thing to occupy my already overfilled schedule. But, who cares, I’m young, I’m supposed to be able to multi-task. : )

  15. I just wanted to say how much I love the books, and am looking forward to the show. I especially loved Deadbeat, the part about reanimating Sue, was pure genius. I can’t wait for the next book. The only thing I hate about the Dresden Files is when I get to the last page and I realize I have to wait another year for the next installment. I’m just glad you write fast. In the meantime I’ll just reread the old ones.
    Also I had no idea you were an OKie too. We have so many great writer’s here.

  16. Ok, so I was at the book store today, just browsing around, and I had read caulderon’s fury and academ’s fury . Anyways I am a huge sci-fi/fantasy guy. So, I was like what the heck, I read his others I’ll check these out. Well I read a few pages in the back and seen it was first person… so I was like maybe not, and actually put the book back on the shelf, and was gonna leave. But for $6 bucks with a 30% discount, I figured why not. Great Book!!! totally emersed in it. Fantastic Job by Butcher to capture my attention!

  17. OK, I have been keeping up with the Dresden series ever since a fellow bookworm handed me the first 5 books in the series during a “I need new books to read!” desperation spell. I fell fantastically hard for them and could not get enough. In fact I even got in trouble at work for reading too much because I could not put them down. I finished all five books in two days (would have been shorter but I did need sleep eventually!) and proceeded to purchase them and the newer books as well.
    JB, I truly dig your writing style and character creation. Fun and snarky and serious all at the same time, a reader can truly become addicted within a few pages. BTW, I had NO CLUE there was a TV series(as I have limited internet access and just recently got “Hooked on Harry”) planned until I was watching the Battlestar Season 3 premiere on Sci-fi. I was working at my wine bar in Dallas when the teaser came on. All shreds of dignity went completely out the window and I squealed like a kid at Christmas and completely geeked out. Then I proceeded to inform all my customers about the series and call all of my fellow Harry addicts. I cannot wait! Keep up the good work!And thanks for keeping us fans filled in!

  18. I have to tell you that your book is so good that my friend who does not read unless it is absolutely necessary, listened to your audio book. 8 hours of audiobook. Just sat there and listen. I’m going to read you book in the summer 🙂

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