Judi Jordan (INTERVIEW)
Judi Jordan has recently acquired the rights to produce a TV series based on the famed vampire series, THE DON SEBASTIAN CHRONICLES with BOOK 1: THE BLACK CASTLE in development now.
Thank you for the interview.
No, no problem at all. Thank you for your interest.
I love your site by the way, the Romola Garai interview was so interesting.
Oh, thank you.
I mean you're taking horror to a new level and I mean, I don't like the word horror because you know, it just so flat and it's so antiquated in a way, but we've seen it as a genre now for a while and it has that label, but it's so much more layered than that. I mean I wish you could come up with a new label for it like, I don't know, but yeah, just, I think that would be super helpful because when I talk to people about the project, it doesn't feel like horror to me, it feels like history forward, dark exciting, but those are all sort of such adjectives so yeah, anyway, think of something amazing.
It's very interesting you say that because I absolutely is one thing I advocate about anybody who doesn't generally agree with the term horror or doesn't necessarily think they like horror films yet there was so much crossover between genres and actually so much depth within the horror genre in itself that even you could say a horror film and you say, look a horror film and you go and say, yeah, you love Nights of the Living Dead, on the other hand, you could like the complete gore of Re-Animator and then deep down go and say that you like Tom Ford's Nocturnal Animals. That is completely non horror but has that really tense element of threat and violence so it's yeah, you spanked on, I'm glad you mentioned that because it's... To mention the horror genre, it's just such a broad subject.
It really is. I mean, blood is everywhere. I mean, I don't know if you've gotten the new Vikings yet. See, I'm, I'm a big fan of Michael Hurst okay? And his previous... His tutors, everything he's done has been very interesting to me, but Vikings was so visceral and now the new one that he's given off to someone else to do also very visceral, but I mean, it's not overwhelming. I don't think, even in a vampire movie, which there will be blood, this is not a movie, this is a series, of course there'll be blood, but it's going to be elegant blood, it's not the spurty, I mean, yeah. I mean, I'm probably going into too much detail, but I've given it some thought because I know we sort of have a sense of who our audience is for this project. And from polling on Instagram and talking, tweeting with a lot of followers, we kind of know what they want and it's exciting to develop this project that hopefully you'll be one of the first people to know about it when it gets completely launched.
Fantastic and obviously the project we're talking about is obviously you're working on a TV series for Don Sebastian Vampire Chronicles that were written by Les Daniels? So do you want to... Can you just give us a bit of a briefness to kind of what you, how you came about that and how you are involved?
Well, I was, this is going on for a decade. Okay. So a decade ago I was asked by a Mexican director to write a vampire script, a Mexican vampire script about lesbian nuns in a cave and I'm like, oh, that's fairly specific you know, I was like, okay. So I have a journalistic background, so I so much appreciate what you do and so my thing is always research. So even if it's the most like far farfetched concept, I want to find, as we say, hands and feet. I want to ground it in something and that just helps me to tell the better story. So I went to the library, the good old days when we went to the library, remember you had a card and you gave it to somebody, anyway, so I went to the library in downtown Los Angeles, this is a huge historic building and you could take out all sorts and I just stumbled on these books.
First of all, I started with a Don Sebastian Vampire Chronicles because they were the most, it was a thorough line, and the main character is a Spanish nobleman, a knight who becomes a vampire at... He's a bio vampire so his wife who is a Sephardic Jew at the time had studied with Leonardo da Vinci okay? So she was trying to find a blood clotting recipe for her brother who had, I guess, an earlier version, which is hemophilia. So she was there trying to find a formula for that. She's born into an alchemic dynasty, let's say, and she comes back with it. It's too late, he's already passed but then she meets Sebastian and Sebastian saves her and some of her relatives, but he is mortally wounded in the process and she then pulls out all the stops with her alchemy, with her great magic and with her bio serum to bring him back to life.
He becomes blood dependent and ultimately has to start going the classic vampire route but he does have a faithful and amazing Arab page who becomes his footman, his private valet, and who mixes all sorts of magical blood serums for him to hang on as far as he can, before he becomes a full fledged vampire. So we have a nice way of stretching this out and this was a gift to me from Les Daniels so you probably, I know you probably did your research on Les, he's so DC anthologist, Marvel anthologist, loved comics, loved Wonder Woman, all that, but these books have a much more serious tone.
They're still kind of, they're dark but playful but when I called up Les, when you could actually call somebody on the phone, remember? Those... Makes me feel old but it's like, things happened fast. I called Les and I spoke to him and I said Mr. Daniels, I'd love to auction your books and he said, "That's great. I'd love to have them made into a movie." Or I said, "Well, movies, I was thinking originally movies, one of each book, because they're five books". Here they're paperbacks, but you could see they're like, and I know these reverse, but so these were like five books to turn into an amazing series or movies.
So I said, "you know, at the time movies were still so exciting," so he said, "Yeah." And I said, "Well one thing I noticed Mr. Daniels..." I said, "How does Sebastian become a vampire?" And there was this wonderful, like silence and then he kind of chuckled and he said, "I hadn't really thought about it." he said, "but you'll figure it out." And I was like, yes, like that's the ultimate gift another writer can give to you is to give you the freedom to find a solution to a big problem or a big-
It's like you mentioned, is that kind of you that eco development kind of thing between the characters, but you've got that as writers as well, because you're able to evolve this piece together which is fantastic.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. That was... He did it with love and he also said, because we spoke a few times before he passed and he just said "Stay on top of my agent and just make sure you get it, because I believe in you" and along the way he sent me these really cool kind of like ghostly little hints to keep going. It's interesting, I don't know if you believe in that, but I can sense his presence a lot when I'm writing and then I mean, believe me, it wasn't easy to like write vampire stuff in sunny California you know? So I literally set up my own little weird little shop here so that I can get in the mood and yeah, I'll just see little things happen or things being planted that remind me to keep on track.
That's great. It's a sign right there. Well, that's, I mean, that's a sign right there, you mean you've got those little reminders and that's really uplifting, it keeps you going, it keeps your momentum going in that sense. I suppose in a genre, we mentioned the genre as whole, but obviously one of the sub genres goes into the sub context of vampires and this, ever since the 1931 classic of DRACULA, there's always been that evolution of vampires but I suppose how hard is it to try and keep original, we've got THE LOST BOYS, we've got the KISS OF THE DAMNED, we've got ONLY STRANGERS LEFT ALIVE, there's such a broad spectrum just in the vampire genre. I mean, if we could go down, as you mentioned, alleged experience with the comic world, it's like, you've also got BLADE into that, that's coming back soon, the Marvel universe in couple years' time. How would you plan on keeping its own entity?
Oh, that's a great question and nobody has asked me that yet. To be honest, it's been really easy and the point of view is that I, because of Spain, okay? I went, I did, I've been to Spain a lot before I started doing this. I lived in Europe for 15 years. I was in Paris as a designer and New York and so I made a transition, but I... So I come from the place of idea finding, okay? You know, you're always looking for a solution, whether it's this design or a visual or work solution, so by going to Spain, I've I found so much, I mean, just, almost too much inspiration. First of all, when I went for the second time, the first time I went, I met up with, this is going to sound really weird, but like a grand, grand, grand niece of Franco.
And she is, as happens with later generations, a very revolutionary person, like trying to quash the old memory, et cetera but she took me from all around the Northern area of Alagón by car and literally she said, "What are you looking for?" And I said, "Well, I need a dark staircase." I wanted to see these places. I said, "I need like a huge, like a whole tower that has an open view to all these." And so literally I had this list of things that she would drive me, Alena, it's so nice, to all these places that specifically resonated and I could like found those black slick steps and that dungeon. I mean, there's a whole dungeon culture in Spain. I mean, it's not really pretty, but they have a huge inquisitional, whatever you want to call it, cult. There are museums everywhere in almost every like major spot town, whatever. And you can you get in, I mean, scary inspiration. I mean, I have pictures of some of these tools and things they use, so that's incorporated in the story as well.
And it's not so grizzly. I mean, we show it a lot and then there's also a sensual element to it with the Inquisitioner and his taste for men and men and dark stuff. So we're going in that direction and we're also going in the more, a chemical direction. So I went to in Gijón, one of the oldest cities in Spain where they shot actually Game of Thrones, part of it there, they have a inquisitional, well, actually it's more of the medieval Jewish museum there, or the Museum of the Inquisition. They have all these amazing charts and tools and so believe me, there's so much inspiration. It's overwhelming.
And that's great to hear. I mean, I absolutely adore Spain. I'm more familiar with the Catalonian regions, but to hear that, there's so much history in a country that, again, such a vast country and so much difference between north and south, but that is absolutely great to hear from an inspirational perspective and certainly something new.
Oh yeah, well, there are 3000 castles in Spain and we're not going to do 3000 castles, but there's no lack of... The thing is I want this to also be a beautiful, like a bath in history for people versus just a short one here, I mean, because that could have been made a long time ago. You know, that kind, I mean, I've had producers on the project who wanted to spend not enough on episodes and I'm like, you know what, this isn't going to work. Now, we have an amazing team of producers who are involved and who are bringing this forward, one of whom worked on GAME OF THRONES in Spain, Pablo Barinaga and Jasmin Espada who is also producing now Latino projects. You know, it's like preaching to the choir.
You kind of have to do that in Hollywood because they want do Latino projects very, I mean, I don't want to say low budget, but not this kind of massive budget, but you're British and so the thing is, Europeans get it. Europeans understand the importance of history and tying it in with these things with the late medieval early Renaissance because we're going to take it to early Renaissance. We're going to Florence and we're also going to Burgundy where all these dark things continued and plus we go west so we start in Alagón, we go to Malaga, Granada and then we're going to go to Madrid, Barcelona and then we go west, okay, to Asturias where a lot of the Celtic culture is involved and the Witch of Asturias and out there as well.
And I don't know if you've ever heard of Trasmoz. Trasmoz is a village where a... witch village. Literally it's still going, okay? They have a witch festival there, it's a whole town of witches okay? So we've got the crossover there with Germans who come, who are the authors of the Witches Hammer. I don't know if you've heard of that book?
Okay. So there were two inquisitors, one of whom who actually wrote the book, but they had, they shared the credit for it, credit and they were also kind of metal handymen who made torture tools in their basements.
So, we're going to Germany as well, and we're going to see some pretty interesting things there too. So a tour of Europe of this time, so interesting, so rich and with these characters and with the Sephardic magic, et cetera, we're going to really go differently with this.
I'm sold. You've also got a second job there as a tour guide. You know, I would happily sit here for hours and listen to you talk about Spain. I absolutely adore visiting and there's already a couple of locations there on my list of things to do over the coming year.
Where do you want to go? Tell me where... Where do you do wish to go?
So, well, I mean, I've been to pretty much south, so I've done Barcelona, Tarragona, which is a beautifully historic town. It's just basked in history and then the Balearic Islands as well.
And take the party capital of the world out, but you actually get so much serenity and honestly, we are going away actually coincidentally in a couple of months to Menorca because it's... If you want to escape and bask into a culture that is not British, American, it's not English language native, but at the same time, everybody's soul is just the same, everybody's there just to relax and that vibe just carries over. So it's absolutely adore other places that you'll be going with this. It's certainly interesting to say the least, yeah. I will not doubt that it will not be beautiful to watch.
Thank you. Yeah. Well the great thing is the other four books are in equally interesting places so the idea is to do a couple seasons in Spain, always come back to Spain as the... You know it's the mothership of Latin culture and that's what we don't have at present, a show that actually shows Latino, American Latinos, Cuban Latinos, Caribbean and, south American, their roots, nothing. I mean, not that I'm trying to sell this as vampire roots of Spain, which is kind of a weird idea, but the idea is to show people more about the culture and that they are descended from nobility, from Arabs, from Jews, from gypsies, oh, this is the other thing we forgot to talk about. So there's a big gypsy element here and gypsies came from India with a lot of magic and it exists to this very day.
And when you think of Spain, you think of flamenco music, which would probably, is probably very distressing to the ghost of Queen Isabelle because that was not her favourite, but we are going to show the Indian crossover influence with music with the dance and also with the spirituality and all that they bring as well. So that's interwoven through plot lines where they create wine for the Royals and we're not just like sticking a number in there. It's interwoven like the grapes of Spain and there's a big wine culture as well, integrated into that. So you're going to see a lot of cool stuff.
But, but Majorca, and Menorca, Menorca, you've got to make sure that you see, are you going to Chopin's house?
No, we're not, but can certainly put it on the list.
Yeah. Put it on the list. I've seen it. It's... Everything is inspirational if you are in the right frame of mind, I think.
Absolutely look forward to. And I suppose obviously at the moment you are at pre-production stage, when are we likely to see the start of THE BLACK CASTLE?
Well, we're talking to... We've got quite a bit of talent on board, we are talking to a few big names for starring, but we have some amazing talent from Spain. We're shooting in English and then we'll dub over. They can dub themselves. We'll dub over the English speakers into Spanish and we're also talking to directors so all of that is contingent on availability.
As you know, but I mean, we certainly are hoping to be somewhere by the end of this year.
And yeah, so scripts are written and will get rewritten and you know how that process is, but yeah, it's exciting and we really are stoked for the media tours, et cetera so we'll keep you posted and excited. So I was telling you about the other books.
So we go from season one/two, perhaps to Mexico for three and four and that's at the time of Hernán Cortés. So Sebastian comes back, he's drawn back by the Aztec priestess who, we're seeing a reincarnation of the wife, Anna, the Sebastian character is always the same okay? But we're seeing a reincarnation of Anna through other females who always bring him, he's always pulled back into the world by another... By a woman and it's the spirit of his first love, but it's in a maybe in a different person so we'll see. And then after that, we go to France for the yeah. So what Les wanted to do was set this in some of the bloodiest times in history so that kind of makes sense, so we're going to French Revolution and then after that, we go to Victorian age where he's trying to relax a little bit as an advisor to the queen but of course he gets in trouble and then he flees to India where he reunites with Anna, who is the goddess Kali.
So these are the books, and you can see how the progression of it goes all the way up to the 1900s and I'm now out sort of writing a book that brings us into 2020 so we'll see how that goes but just even for fan fiction, just for people who want to know, how this all ties together, I thought that would be fun.
I'm already brought in already, and you haven't even started the start of the filming yet. That's certainly a testament to how well this is going, so you know, I absolutely look forward to seeing it and obviously speaking again closer to when it does realize into film, but just again, thank you very much for your time today, it's been an absolute pleasure to speaking to you.
All my heart and thank you so much. Great to meet you.
You can keep up to date with the show via the creators website: https://www.theblackcastletvshow.com/