25 Jan Jules Verne – New Zealand article
Article From Hawke’s Bay Herald Tribune, New Zealand
Scriptwriter Gavin Scott has always had a passion for history. Even as a kid growing up in Hawke’s Bay he would “plunge into the history books at Havelock North Library”.
That interest has manifested itself in his work of the past decade, writing television and movie scripts for the likes of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Disney and HBO.
Tonight Scott’s television series The Secret Adventures of Jutes Verne starts on Prime Television.
Scott had read a biography of Verne and discovered that his 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea had originally been written as a contemporary political adventure which implicated Russia in the building of a military airship for a planned attack on their neighbours.
However, the publisher got nervous about saying negative things about Russia and said all those references would have to be removed.
Hence Verne did a complete rewrite taking out all names (Captain Nemo was so called for ‘no name) and current references and ended up with the fantasy classic
we know today.
Scott decided that if 20,000 Leagues had been written with a background of reality perhaps Verne’s other books also had history hidden in them so he decided to tell Jules Verne’s story as though he had lived out many of his fictional adventures and come into contact with many of the characters of his age (Napoleon III, Jesse James, Thomas Edison).
The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne is no dry biography then, but rather a ripping adventure story with a healthy dose of history woven in.
Scott says he has taken some licence with the history but not unrealistically.
For example, that Verne and fellow novelist Alexandre Dumas (Three Musketeers) went on an adventure together is not unreasonable to consider. The pair knew each other very well; in fact, 26 years Verne’s senior, Dumas was something of a mentor to the young writer — who is played by Chris Demetral (Dream On) with a support cast including Margot Kidder, Patrick Duffy and Michael (Robin
of Sherwood) Praed.
Scott says his aim with any of his writing is always to leave an audience with the same feelings of exhilaration and excitement in a drama as he feels about an idea and story himself.
Scott now has an impressive list of television and film credits to his name. He is originally from Hull in England. When he was 11, his family decided to move to New Zealand and see what opportunities awaited.
Coming to sunny Hawke’s Bay with its fruit trees and warm beaches was an adventure for an 11-year-old lad from “a grim northern industrial city”.
As a family they went fruit picking and cutting asparagus at 4am before school. They soon could afford a car and were building their own house in Havelock North.
For the young Gavin, school life at Karamu High was lively and interesting with fellow pupils the likes of former Hastings MP David Butcher and broadcaster Paul Holmes (who was friendly and kind to the new immigrant kid and lent him comics). Scott also heard some of his stories broadcast on 2ZC in Napier and he
performed himself in some radio plays, something he did again at university to earn extra money.
After a career in journalism, which started at the National School of Journalism in Wellington and then the NZBC, Scott and Kiwi wife Nicky headed to Britain where he wrote for The Times. Then it was on BBC Radio as a reporter and in 1980 Scott began making films for BBC Television’s News-night, then it was documentaries for Horizon and Man Alive before joining Channel Four News. Meanwhile, Scott had begun to write novels including Hot Pursuit about a Russian satellite that crashed in New Zealand, and A Flight of Lies about the hunt for the bones of the Peking Man. His novel Small Soldiers was a bestseller in 1998.
He had also written a manual for political activists called How To Stop the Bomb and he had a brush with politics, standing as a Liberal candidate. Alas it was during Margaret Thatcher’s reign of “organised selfishness”. The tide was against the Liberals and suffice to say, he was not elected.
Scott first left journalism in 1990 and got his start in scriptwriting
from George Lucas who was in * London interviewing writers for his new series the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Scott worked on the series with five others at Lucas’ complex in America.
“It was a very stimulating experience. He has a brilliant storyteller’s mind, and is a very nice man.”