By Mo Cranker on April 13, 2018.
The past 30 days have been a whirlwind for Medicine Hat native Mark Sakamoto — in the absolute best way possible.
After being named a finalist and then winning CBC’s Canada Reads competition as the author of the book “Forgiveness,” Sakamoto learned this week more was coming.
“What a ride this has been,” he said. “Turns out the book is going to be made into a four-part mini-series — which is just incredible.
“Don Carmody Television, which is one of the best producers out there, has optioned ‘Forgiveness’. They have engaged Rob King, who has been nominated for an International Emmy Award for his script writing. We have also optioned author Joy Kogawa to be a creative consultant on the script.”
Sakamoto says with big names behind the project, he is really looking forward to seeing the quality of the final project.
“CBC has put this into development and we’re off to the races right now,” he said. “It’s looking like it’ll be a high-impact, high-budget four one-hour episode mini -eries.
“This is a CBC project, so it’ll be on CBC for sure. We’re also talking in real time with other networks, broadcasters and platforms.”
Sakamoto says the latest news was completely unexpected by him, but his father, Stan Sakamoto, may have known the TV screen was in the cards.
“Just like everything else along this journey, this was completely out of the blue for me,” he said. “I got a message on Twitter, started talking with producers and now here we are.
“When I was writing this book years ago, I didn’t know how far this was going to go. My dad always said he believed this could make it past just being a book I was writing and on to the big screen — I guess he just knew.”
While Sakamoto is not writing, casting and shooting the series, he is working creatively with the team of writers and producers to make the story come to life.
“The process has been very collaborative so far,” he said. “The production team, writers and everyone else have been working in a real collaborative partnership, and it’s going very well so far.
“While Rob has the pen, we’re working in a real writing-room scenario. We have four hours, not even including advertisements, to tell the story of my grandparents — we’re not going to be able to tell the story sentence by sentence, so we’re working together to make it work for this medium.”
Sakamoto says he is very excited to see the project come to life, but knows it could be a year or two away.
“We’re hoping to get it on the screen as quickly as possible,” he said. “Things like this take time — it’s a complicated, multi-location shoot.
“Just like Canada Reads, I’m just happy to tell the stories of Ralph MacLean and Mitsue Sakamoto, and happy so many people get to read these stories. I’m excited to see what a group of other artists can do with my art.”