Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dark Shadows Movie Begins Filming

Today, after nearly four years in development, the new Dark Shadows movie began principal photography at England's Pinewood Studios, under the direction of Tim Burton. The news was confirmed by a number of personnel connected with the production on Twitter, including fabric dyers Schultz & Wiremu, who posted yesterday that "filming starts in the morning!" A big screen re-imagining of Dark Shadows has been a long time coming, and we'd like to wish the cast and crew the very best of luck.

Over the next year, Dark Shadows will receive global attention on a scale unlike anything it's experienced before. That's something really worth thinking about for a moment. Millions of people, and yes, it is millions, in many countries will experience Barnabas Collins, Collinwood and the Dark Shadows world for the very first time. At the time of production, the original show was often dismissed as a fad – a little fluke in television history that sprung out of a creative team scrambling for a new direction as their stories failed to catch on. It enjoyed, by soap opera standards, a brief, vibrant run, but was undoubtedly a happy accident, rather than the product of a cohesive version.

In the 35 years since the show left the air, Dark Shadows has been a bit of a sleeper hit. Its actors and fan community are justifiably proud of the series, and perhaps sometimes a little over-protective. The original episodes tend not to be slow-paced, but do have long scenes typical of that era's as-live productions. And, whereas its peers largely have faded from memory, Dark Shadows lives on in DVDs, its quaint, lumbering majesty intact. As fans, we all know just how good much of it is, but to the uninitiated, viewing those shows will always be a culture shock. For every great performance, there's a hopeless flubbed exchange; for every technical triumph, there's a boom mike yo-yoing into shot. To those who can appreciate it, Dark Shadows is sublime; To unkind eyes, it's substandard television.

So it's understandable when fans worry about how the world will greet our modest little ugly duckling of a show. We might cringe at bloopers and pre-empt inevitable carping, but with this film, Dark Shadows will stand on its own two feet, with a top-notch cast and crew recreating the show on a bold, ambitious scale. To hear Johnny Depp – one of the world's most bankable, acclaimed actors – paying sincere tribute to the talents of Jonathan Frid sweeps aside any number of trivial worries about gaffes or forgotten lines. Whatever the merits of the finished movie, no one ever need apologise for Dark Shadows again.

7 comments:

The Creep said...

I've given some thought to the increased attention the show (and its original cast) will receive ... and have begun to worry about how that earlier video interview with Johnathan Frid will be used next year. I have this sinking feeling we'll see a lot of "Frid blasts, classic show, cast members" headlines. I suggest WB get on top of this problem sooner rather than later. I'm not sure what the solution is, though.

Dave said...

In discussion with friends about this show (I'm currently plowing through all 1225 shows - seeing them for the first time in many, many years - some since childhood) - I have surmised that you must think of this show as a play. The sets, the long dialogue, the small number of actors-on-set, and even the mistakes equate in many ways to a stage production, not television as we are all accustomed to. If you are prepared to appreciate the show as such, you are all set! And hopefully this new movie (purported comedic overtones notwithstanding)will not only shed light on the original TV episodes, but also the excellent (and to me the TRUE Dark Shadows movie) "House of Dark Shadows". I only a remastered, widescreen (and longer??)version of that movie is being readied for DVD soon!

ffghtr49 said...

I appreciate the effort that has been taken in keeping the fans, up to date, on the actors from the original show, to the info being shared with the upcoming production. Can one imagine what the impact of the original show would have had, if the internet was available back in the late 60's?

codeman said...

Wow. Of course, I can only speak for myself, but I have to say that this article really sums up very succinctly every hardcore Dark Shadow's fans feelings on the upcoming movie. . . and it's possible worldwide impact and exposure. Very well written. In a way, the article is a manifesto of concerns for the avid fan regarding their beloved show. Way to cook up the interest!

krmorrison said...

I especially liked the sentence, “For every great performance, there’s a hopeless flubbed exchange; for every technical triumph, there’s a boom mike yo-yoing into the shot”. I borrowed a friend’s DVD set of the early years, and once again I am hooked. I’ve gotten to where I’m DVRing my TV shows and putting the DVDs on the computer of an evening.

The “flubbed” lines actually make the characters come alive. In real life, people trip over their words all the time. Mumbling and stumbling makes them a lot more real. This is what I would consider a happy accident. No other show has that, which is kind of sad. I can get behind people who make mistakes.

And the occasional squeaking camera dolly, camera operators in the background shooting a scene, and the fishing line visible while something is supposed to be moving on its own—heck, that is all part of the fun. It makes me think of home movies. I feel closer to this show in a visceral way than to a lot of the stuff that is on TV these days.

mushroom maniac said...

I love Dark Shadows. I watched it as a child and fell in love with Jonathan Frid. I think that's where my love of Vampires began. DS was WONDERFUL. I am in the middle of watching each episode as well and I can only say I love it even more. I missed a lot of episodes (I was only 5 when it began.) Johnny Depp is a very good actor. I think that he'll bring that same gentleness to the character of Barnabas Collins that we all came to love. I can't wait!

Loretta said...

I own the entire Dark Shadows series on DVD, and I still watch my most favorite episodes (which is Barnabas and Angelique in 1700's New England). Dan Curtis was GENIOUS in pairing those two as bloodthirsty advasaries. House of Dark Shadows was more of the same, just completely terrifying on the wide screen. However, Night of Dark Shadows with David Selby and Kate Jackson is ultimately my favorite.