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Andre Norton: Feature Length Documentary

In 1912 on a cold February day, Alice Mary Norton was born in Cleveland, Ohio. Little did anyone know at that time that she would become one of the instilling forces that changed the landscape of science fiction and fantasy writing. What started originally as a written biography by Scott C. Brown of Pushing The Pen and an hour-long TV documentary for another production company evolved into a feature length documentary on the effects that her writing has made in the publishing world and movie industries. This is the story of how a young girl named Alice would grow up to become known the world over as the Grande Dame of Science Fiction & Fantasy, Andre Norton.

With the approach of the 25th anniversary of DragonCon 2011 only weeks away, an hour-long TV documentary was scheduled to shoot interviews with those that knew her the best, including Best Selling authors, publishers and friends. Often little recognized for her name, Andre Norton is easily recognized for projects based on her works, such as Beast Master, which became three feature films and a TV series that spanned several seasons. Sue Stewart, the heir to the Andre Norton Estate, had arranged for both projects to meet and exchange information, in an effort to maximize the information available and the limited time to gather it.

When asked by the head of the production company that was to produce the TV documentary to spearhead the projects filming and optimizing the time and effort of those to be interviewed for both projects, Scott began making preparations to work with the film crew that was being organized by the original company. At the last moment, just ten days prior to the start of DragonCon 2011, final funding for the TV documentary was lost, setting a chain of events into motion that turned both projects into a feature length documentary that is now being produced by Scott C. Brown and Pushing The Pen.

With extensive help by Bill Fawcett, last minute arrangements were made for Scott to attend DragonCon, in Atlanta, GA. The plan was to interview many of the top writers of science fiction and fantasy, along with others in the industry. Obtaining the financing for the project, hiring a film crew for taping in Atlanta and overcoming all of the preproduction obstacles that battered at the foundation of the project continued even into the first few days of filming, as locations for the sets bounced from one place to another and those to be interviewed had their schedules changed, making them unavailable. It was at this point that Bill, once again, played a key role in bring the project together, by securing a single location for the rest of the interviews, as well as working with the interviewees to arrange scheduling.

Flying back to California, Scott put the pieces in place to for the postproduction to begin on the project, which due to the lack of preproduction time on the project had been completely skipped over in an effort to get the once in a lifetime footage. This included the hiring of editors, sound engineers, music composers and the others needed to make a film possible.

With post production now in full gear, Scott C. Brown of Pushing The Pen was able to sit down for a few minutes and discuss the project.

“The pre-production time that most producers have was completely glossed over on this project. It was a whirlwind of insanity, phone calls, emails and a lack of sleep for several people to get this project even onto the possibility list. It was because of the effort of those supporting this project that it came together at all.

Not only did people, such as Bill Fawcett, bring everything they could to bring the interviews together, but the crew was phenomenal as well.

We were running and gunning for the first few days, due to not having any single location to setup. During one interview that we scheduled happened to start just as the parade was ending. This wouldn’t have been an issue, except the only spot we could set up was at the top of the main escalator that everyone from the parade had to take to get into the main convention area. It was quite a spectacle for both us and those coming back from the parade. The costumes and spectators ended up packed around our shoot.

The amusing part was when we spun the camera to show the crowd they all smashed into a corner to stay out of frame and the camera man ran out of cable before he could get all the way around. There was well over two hundred people dressed in full sci-fi and fantasy costumes, stuffed into a space that shouldn’t have fit fifty.

On day three Bill actually donated the vast majority of his suite to our production. We were able to set up and leave the equipment there, instead of dragging it back and forth the twelve blocks, on dollies, to get the footage we needed. He was our savior both in getting the project started, as well as getting the location and interviews themselves! He made a nightmare bearable.”

Returning to DragonCon 2012, with an initial rough, Pushing The Pen held a large invitation only screening, as well as several dozen private screenings for those involved and those that were interviewed.

“This round we had some time to actually put things together and besides some people getting their schedules changed, the screenings went very well. There were lots of positive responses to the rough cut, excellent comments and notes from those that viewed it. Getting the input from fans, friends and colleagues was an excellent experience and very productive. We are now going down our punch list and look forward to finalizing everything over the next few months.”

Pushing The Pen is pleased to announce the production of its feature length documentary entitled ‘Andre Norton - The Grande Dame of Science Fiction and Fantasy’. This documentary will explore the works and personal life of Andre Norton from those that knew her best, along with those who were influenced by her writing. Friends, co-writers and those she inspired speak on their personal relationships and revealing an insider’s view of the life and works of Andre Norton. Included are never before seen family photos and home movies, as well as a look into the slew of legal battles that have been continuing since her passing, that include such well known pieces as ‘Beast Master’.

With an unspecified date in 2013, a theatrical or cable release is intended.

Twitter: PushingThePen