Reader Masoud Shoushtarian asks about the Prince of Persia movie:
1. do know about persian culture and persian civilization?
2. why do you make this movie without iranian actor or actress?
3. why don’t you make this movie in iran?
The story and screenplay for Prince of Persia were inspired by many sources, especially the tales of the 1001 Nights and Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh (Book of Kings). In doing the research I read pretty widely, including the lives and writings of Omar Khayyam, Rumi, and Ibn Battuta, and modern histories such as Frye’s The Golden Age of Persia, but my goal was to create an entertaining fantasy in the spirit of the 1001 Nights.
In my afterword for the Prince of Persia graphic novel (which was written by an Iranian author, A.B. Sina) I talk a bit more about the origins of Prince of Persia and its connection to Iranian history and legend. The graphic novel site also has an interview with A.B. offering some of his thoughts on the subject.
The movie casting and location decisions weren’t mine to make, but the choice to shoot in Morocco and the UK was certainly based on practical considerations including availability of locations and production facilities. For similar reasons, Kingdom of Heaven, Black Hawk Down, and Asterix and Obelix Meet Cleopatra were also shot in Morocco, although those stories take place in Jerusalem, Somalia and Egypt respectively.
As a kid I was pretty good at drawing… until I got my first Apple II computer. After that, I did the occasional scribble-sketch, but my level of skill basically remained frozen for the next 30 years. When you stop drawing, you get rusty very fast.
Over three decades of writing, programming, and other left-brain activities, I pretty much forgot that I’d ever known how to draw.
Until ten months ago. It was in Paris, a city where unexpected things often happen to me. The first day after flying in from California is always a bit surreal anyway; you force yourself to stay up and walk around in the bright daylight, even though your body wants to be asleep and dreaming. On that day, to stay awake I went to the Jewish Museum in the Marais. They had an exhibit called “From Superman to The Rabbi’s Cat” about the history of comics.
As I prowled the museum, it gradually became intolerable to me that I had gotten to a point in my life where I could no longer express myself through drawing. I don’t know if it was the comics or the Holocaust memorabilia that tore it, but the next morning I bought a sketchbook and a pen and started drawing people in the street, in cafés, at train stations. That was last December. I’ve gone through three notebooks since then.
Now, I’m addicted. These days, when I’m in an airport and my flight is delayed, I hardly mind, because it’s a chance to draw. I love drawing even when the drawings don’t come out right. It’s a trance state, like playing music or skiing: Even when it’s bad, it’s good.
The Sands of Time: Crafting A Video Game Story, an essay I wrote a couple of years ago for MIT Press, is now available online. If you’re curious about the nuts and bolts of video game writing — and how it’s different from screenwriting — check it out.
What the drawing doesn’t show is that it reached 125 degrees that day (52 Celsius).
I started keeping a journal my freshman year in college, and kept the habit for years afterward. I’m still not sure whether it was a good habit or a bad one. A few months ago, when I sat down to write an afterword for the Prince of Persia graphic novel, I pulled out those old notebooks and started to browse through them, figuring it might help me wrap my mind around Prince of Persia’s 20-year history.
It’s all there. The story of how Prince of Persia came to be, and almost didn’t. It occurred to me that as a case history, a time-capsule view of the videogame industry as it was in the 1980s, this was a story others might find interesting too.
So even though the last thing I need is another hobby — especially one that involves spending more time at the keyboard — I’ve begun posting those old journal entries, a kind of blog from the past, starting in 1985. Check out the “Old Journals” and let me know what you think. If enough people are interested, I’ll keep posting — ideally, at least through the end of 1989, when… well, you’ll find out.
The entries are selected and abridged — most of what I had on my mind at age 21, you don’t want to hear about — but on principle, I’ve let things stand as I wrote them, and avoided the temptation to revise with hindsight.
The “Projects” section of the nav bar to the right has the scoop on my past and current projects. I’ll update these pages periodically, and add new ones as new projects reach a point where there’s enough to say about them. Your comments are welcome.