Writing my script as the extension to my book has been cathartic. The characters are no longer names and dates and places in academic research material. They were living, breathing, real people. They always were. But historical accounts turn them into something less personal. Like something out of a Jane Austen novel.
By putting them into real scenarios, the scenarios we already recognise from history, and filling in the gaps to create a narrative, I have realised their complex layers. Their motives. Their plights. I’ve had to delve right into their souls to really understand what was going on and the circumstances of their decisions. And my own personality type has warmed to them, more so than before.
I have discovered I share many of Byron’s character traits. That me and Percy Shelley have something in common and that my ancestor, my flesh and blood DNA, is so much more than a name in my family tree. By picking up the pieces of his life that I know to be fact, and weaving them into scenes which turn them into something tangible for the screen whilst still retaining their factual placement, I have found what made him tick and why he made key decisions in his life.
I suddenly came across some new information which made me have to rethink a whole chunk of his life history. At first I was resistant to it, it was so what I wasn’t expecting. But after a couple of days it really started to shape him as a person. I started to think more critically of him and to finally put that piece into play that I needed to round off his personality – that actually he may have been a bit of a dick at times. That he was impulsive and driven and not always considerate. And I really like that. I’ve worked out where all the crappy bits in my personality have come from. So he’s easy to understand.
In simpler terms, I am connected to someone who was profoundly loyal. Someone who was passionate and wore his heart on his sleeve and who stood by his principles. Someone who doesn’t seem to have been afraid of what he was. Even if sometimes it didn’t show him in the best light. His qualities were and still are admirable and I am insanely proud of him and what he represents. Without it, I would not be here.
These are not characters in a book. These were real human beings. They lived their lives in our not so distant past. They have helped shape our history, inspired us, influenced us. And then they left us.
This is what my film, or mini series, or whatever it is morphing in to this week, is about. It’s not fiction. It’s fact stitched together with occasional drama that could have been the truth.
You can read my book ‘A Most Faithful Attendant – The Life of Giovanni Battista Falcieri‘ by purchasing it here.