DEFINITION June 2019

DRAMA | GOOD OMENS

IT’S RAINING MEN, OMEN Or does the apocalypse bring raining locusts? We talk to DOP Gavin Finney about how he created the aesthetic for the impending end

WORDS CHELSEA FEARNLEY / PICTURES AMAZON PRI ME V I DEO & GAV I N FI NNEY

G ood Omens was written as a bit of fun between two young friends, who later went on to become Neil Gaiman and Sir Terry Pratchett. Next year, Good Omens turns 30, and in those three decades, it has sold millions of copies around the world and is – at Pratchett’s last wish – currently being adapted for television. Gaiman previously said he would not adapt the 1990 fantasy novel without Pratchett, who sadly died in March 2015 from a rare form of Alzheimer’s disease. The long-time friends and co-authors had bargained from the offset that all things Good Omens would be worked on together. But in a memorial event for Pratchett, a year on from his death, Gaiman announced to whistles and cheers that he personally would be adapting the novel for television. He explained that he had been spurred to change his mind after receiving

In the six-part television series, soon to air on Amazon Prime Video, Gaiman is the scriptwriter and the showrunner. For DOP Gavin Finney, this auspicious arrangement was paramount in building the visual world of the show. “He [Gaiman] was invaluable in updating the story and making it work for the screen,” says Finney. “Pratchett and Gaiman’s descriptions were key to the whole design aesthetic. We started with the idea that nothing was impossible, and if we could imagine it, we could do it. The range of looks throughout the series is huge. In episode three, we move through ten different time periods/ locations in the first 30 minutes, and that’s not counting Heaven and Hell.” THE GUISE OF TIME Finney tells us that he had read Good Omens some time ago, so he had an idea

a posthumous letter from Pratchett, requesting that he write a screen adaptation by himself, with the late author’s blessing. An adaptation of the novel – which finds angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley working together to try and prevent the world’s demise – has, in the past, been notoriously challenging for scriptwriters to actualise. Gaiman and Pratchett’s writing is extremely descriptive, visual and often absurd, and writers have either turned the job down or, in Terry Gilliam’s case, failed in several attempts at it. Before Pratchett’s death, director Dirk Maggs – at Gaiman’s instigation – adapted Good Omens for BBC Radio 4, which broadcast in 2014 and included cameos from both Pratchett and Gaiman. Gaiman says he urged BBC Radio 4 to adapt it so that Pratchett could enjoy their shared creation while he was still alive.

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