Based on two of Sacks’ most popular books – The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and An Anthropologist on Mars – the unconventional drama will explore the beauty, horror and comedy of the human condition.
Fabrik Entertainment will partner with The Imaginarium to produce an unconventional, serialized, character-driven television drama series inspired by world-renowned neurologist and bestselling author, Dr. Oliver Sacks. The announcement was made today by Fabrik’s CEO Henrik Bastin and Jonathan Cavendish, Co-Founder and Co-Owner of The Imaginarium.
Los Angeles-based Fabrik Entertainment, a Red Arrow Studios company, is the producer of Amazon’s Bosch, based on Michael Connelly’s bestselling novel series, and AMC’s The Killing. The Imaginarium is a production company linked to a performance capture studio, founded in 2011 by actor/director Andy Serkis (Planet of the Apes, Lord of the Rings) and producer Jonathan Cavendish (Bridget Jones’ Diary, Elizabeth: The Golden Age). Imaginarium’s production credits include Breathe (starring Andrew Garfield and Claire Foy) and The Ritual (starring Rafe Spall). Red Arrow Studios, which has a joint initiative with The Imaginarium to develop high-end scripted TV drama for the international market, brought Fabrik and The Imaginarium together on this collaboration.
“Oliver Sacks radically shifted the public’s stigma towards mental illness with his extensive research and written works on his patient’s perplexing brain disorders,” said Fabrik’s Henrik Bastin. “Along with our partners at The Imaginarium, Fabrik President Melissa Aouate and I aim to create a drama series that explores the furthest reaches of the human mind inspired by Oliver’s life’s work as well as two of his most influential books.”
“Andy Serkis and I are very excited to be working with Fabrik to bring the extraordinary case histories and legacy of the unique and brilliant Oliver Sacks to the screen,” commented The Imaginarium’s Jonathan Cavendish. “Our ambition is to create a television series as innovative, unusual and charismatic as Oliver Sacks was in life.”
VPs of Development Abbey Morris and Paul Hilborn will shepherd the project for Fabrik.
Oliver Sacks was a humanist, a passionate explorer of the human consciousness, and arguably the most famous doctor of modern times. Christened the “poet laureate of contemporary medicine” by the New York Times, he dedicated his life to studying the strangest and most mind-boggling brain disorders in the world.
Sacks’ ability to approach his patients with a profound sense of empathy in a time where mental hospital stays were equivalent to a prison sentence led to a number of major medical breakthroughs, while also radically shifting the public’s stigma towards mental illness. His work with famed Asperger’s Syndrome patient Temple Grandin, for example, posed the progressive idea that those with disorders like disorders like autism are just people who view the world very differently, and should not be discarded as lost causes.
At the same time Sacks was a man of extremes in his personal life. Over the years he indulged in a variety of vices and obsessions as he grappled with memories of abuse from his time growing up in a draconian boarding school, and feelings of abandonment by parents who abhorred his sexual orientation. Rather than let it defeat him, in typical Dr. Sacks fashion he made a study of himself. He published about his trauma to work through his pain, and took a lesson from his patients that one must one must adapt new ways of living in the world in order to grow — and survive — over the course of a lifetime.
Sacks’ incredible humility is best shown in one of his final op-eds for The New York Times, in which he reflects upon his life just after receiving his terminal cancer diagnosis:
“I cannot pretend I am without fear, but my pre-dominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special inter-course of writers and readers. Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”
In the series, Sacks’ experiences will provide an entry point for the audience to explore the deeply personal and sometimes contentious relationships between doctors and patients. Viewers will discern the poignant reality that these patients’ disorders are intimately connected to everything that makes up who they are — an amalgamation of all of their hopes, joys, fears, and traumas.
The show will feature unique cinematic imagery – richly colored, surreal depictions of remarkable visual anomalies — allowing audiences to enter the highly subjective points of view of characters to glimpse a world that at times can hardly seem imaginable. Through a nuanced and dazzling exploration of the human mind, this adaptation intends to elevate itself far beyond typical medical dramas previously seen on screen.
Fabrik is represented by Jared Levine at Morris Yorn Barnes Levine Krintzman Rubenstein Kohner & Gellman. Imaginarium is repped by Pam Black and P.J. Shapiro at Ziffren Brittenham LLP.