Michael Grant’s GONE novels are in the early stages of a television adaptation. How long could the potential show last for?
After the rights were initially acquired by SONY, the responsibility now lies with Engage, a UK-based production company.
But who are Engage? And how did they even get involved in the first place?
The process of GONE finding its way into Engage’s hands started with a young woman named Imogen Hennell.
Imogen, a fan of the books, heard from her father Ian that he had invested money into Engage Productions. She later attended a party which BAFTA-winning producer AJ Riach was also present at, although the two did not speak.
After speaking with her father, Imogen contacted Michael Grant on Twitter and found out there were no imminent plans to adapt GONE. She passed this on to her father, who spoke with AJ Riach and the latter subsequently acquired the rights after reading the books.
Since Engage bought the rights, a teaser was shot for marketing purposes in late 2019, featuring a combination of professional actors and fans playing five major characters from the novels – Sam Temple, Edilio Escobar, Albert Hillsborough, Dekka Talent and EZ.
For most of Michael Grant’s GONE series of Young Adult novels, the action takes place in what becomes known as the FAYZ (Fallout Alley Youth Zone) but what is actually a Californian town named Perdido Beach, which is encased by an impenetrable dome.
While a lot of the events in the books involve action, suspense, mutant powers or horror, the very beginning is a lot more relatable to real life.
Sam witnesses his history teacher, Mr. Trentlake and an older classmate become among the first victims of “the poof”. This is when anyone aged 15 or older disappears under mysterious circumstances.
While Mr. Trentlake is a minor character, he is also one of the only adults. Assuming the TV adaptation keeps him in, a good idea would be to cast a well-known person in the role.
Courageous Nerd’s choice? Veteran actor William Daniels, who is known for such roles as KITT on Knight Rider or Dr. Craig on St. Elsewhere
Most importantly in this case, he also played Mr. Feeny on Boy Meets World for seven seasons and reprised the role for its sequel, Girl Meets World.
Having Daniels play the teacher would not only be a nod to one of the most iconic on-screen teachers of a generation, it would also secure a cameo from an actor of William Daniels’ calibre. He was once President of the Screen Actors Guild.
Although Daniels, in real life, is 93 years of age, it is not a very extensive part. He also showed he has great mobility during his experience on Girl Meets World.
What do you think of this choice? Who would you pick to play the adult characters in GONE?
Whenever you find a book or series that is compelling, has interesting characters and feels real, there is a natural desire for screen adaptation. It has been done countless times, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings to the superheroes from Marvel and DC Comics.
As fans of adapted material have learned over time, the source text is usually changed and reworked for the screen, for various reasons. It could be changing the order of events, or eliminating moments and characters completely.
GONE, a popular Young Adult collection of novels by Michael Grant is in the beginning stages of potentially having a television series based on the books put into production.
Firstly, as a fan of these books, this is very exciting news. Grant’s world of the FAYZ is cruel, unpredictable and very vivid. A visual take on it would be highly interesting to see.
However, we all must accept that as much as we would like it to, there is no way that this potential television series could resemble the books in every aspect. Some elements have to change in order for this process to work. One thing we do know is that Michael Grant would be scripting the show, should it be made.
Another factor is quite simple: money. Television projects usually have a much smaller budget than film and as such, there will be a financial limit on what could appear in each episode/season.
Obviously subject matter such as Gone would not work without the use of special effects but whereas they could be easily written in the books, there is a lot more practical work involved in filmmaking.
The issue of actors’ aging must also be contended with. In the novels, Michael Grant had the luxury of having years to write a story set across a much shorter period of time and as such, kept the characters the same age across each book.
If authentic teenagers are cast, then they will quickly start to look older.
On another note, I think it would be fair to say that most fans would prefer quality over aesthetic for this series.
Meaning, rather than obsessively find someone who resembles book-Sam and cannot act, instead perhaps hire people who may not exactly look like the descriptions but embody the parts and bring the familiarity that is needed for potential viewers who read the novels beforehand.
As I already said, while the events laid out in GONE (both the first book and overall series) tell a wonderful story as they are, it is highly likely that they will be altered, rearranged or removed in the production phase – no pun intended.
One indicator of this already is the recently shot teaser, which – Spoiler Alert – used the opening sequence from Hunger, book number two. It occurred to me then that the television series could use this horrific turn of events to kick us off. Following that, work backwards with flashbacks in the style of LOST to give an insight into the pre-FAYZ life only briefly touched on in the first book.
However, that could potentially alienate fans who just decided to watch a cool-looking TV series and had never read the books. While many would be very familiar with what is going on, there will be others that are not who might find this route hard to follow.