Travis Beacham Explains Evolution of Carnival Row

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Twitter user Shannon Corbeil asked Carnival Row creator Travis Beacham (pictured above with actress Tamzin Merchant who plays Imogen Spurnrose on the fantasy noir series) how the script called A Killing on Carnival Row for a full length feature film Beacham wrote in 2005 ended up as an Amazon Prime series coming out in 2019.

Beacham was happy to answer in a series of tweets and it’s an interesting read!

1) So Carnival Row was a short film I wrote in film school, wanting to direct. Born from a litany of bizarre influences. Dickens, The Third Man, Brassaï, Jack the Ripper lore, Celtic mythology, etc. But to my chagrin, the faculty balked at making it.

2) My screenwriting teacher convinced me to write the feature. This felt like the height of indulgence. I ADORED it but could not imagine anyone else would. It was so dense & weird. Then an alumni interning in LA asked me to send it to him, which I did, thinking nothing of it.

3) A month or so later, he calls me (still in film school) and says, “You should know you’re going to start getting phone calls.” And my life, truly, was never the same after that. Within a year, I had agents, I’d met Guillermo del Toro, and Carnival Row was on the Black List.

4) It was very warmly received in Hollywood, and sold to New Line, but quickly proved almost impossible to make for a host of dull reasons. So it became kind of a sacrificial lamb in my mind. This pure thing I loved intensely that had to die so I could have a career.

5) And it really was very dead. But it kept coming up. Years later, I’d still get asked in meetings, “Carnival Row, I loved that script. What’s going on with that one?” And I’d have to force a smile & say, “Oh I don’t know,” while thinking — you are never going to see that one.

6) But at some point, shortly after I took a bit of a thumping on an unrelated pilot experience, Legendary acquires Carnival Row from New Line. And Thomas Tull calls to ask, “So what do you think about making this as a tv show?” And like that, it wasn’t dead anymore.

7) Finally, we shopped it around. Amazon happily snapped it up. We wrote it. Hired a crew. Found a cast. Went to Prague. Built the Row. Shot the whole thing. And it’s coming out on August 30th, in open defiance of the natural order. #CarnivalRow

8) And I don’t know what lessons there are to draw. It’s still so surreal to me that it’s happening. I know people reach for comparisons b/c they have to, I guess, but to me it’s this thing that’s been in my life for ages and is suddenly real. Which is the craziest part.

(Source: Travis Beacham on Twitter)