CONTEXT, STYLE AND HISTORY
by Judi Jordan
Inspired by "The Black Castle", Book One of The Don Sebastian Chronicles - a popular novel series written in the ‘80’s by DC anthologist, Les Daniels - the series follows Sebastian, a much-admired Knight-Noble in the court of Isabel and Fernando who defies the crown – and his embittered Inquisitor brother, Diego - to marry for love, to Ana, a brilliant Sephardi Jew and (secret) Alchemist at the dawn of the Inquisition.
In each episode, we follow Sebastian, 7th Lord of Aragon, made immortal by Ana, as he juggles luck, power, war, marriage, parenthood, royal and religious backstabbing in Inquisition Spain.
After his beloved father's sudden death, Sebastian inherits the title, wealth, finds true love, and gains the King's favor, but his life becomes complex and eternal with his accidental transmutation to a biological vampire when Ana, his Jewish Alchemist lover's effort to rescue him go above and beyond. They adapt to the situation, using his new 'talents' to fight the Inquisition and save the Jews, Moors, and Gypsies in his charge from the pyre.
WHY THIS STORY
I discovered the Black Castle and the Don Sebastian Series when I was doing research on a work for hire horror script. I’ve always a huge history and sophisticated vampire buff. Interview with the Vampire and Lestat were my escapist reading; and the Don Sebastian Chronicles was the best of both worlds. I optioned the books and started writing as single feature scripts but it seemed like a better idea to look at it as a TV project. The books are made original in the sense that they engage actual historical figures with the fictional lead characters. Some additional characters have been invented by myself or added from history to thicken the plot.
These books made me think of what if an Anne Rice’s elegant Lestat character was a few centuries earlier-say, in early exploration age of The Tudors – or the Medici but in set in Spain.
This show is a “Royal Vampire” story for People of Color, of different cultures and countries-that made Spain glorious -the Sephardi Jews, Moors & Gypsies, in an alternative [and true] history that showed the reverse side of the Inquisition, the truth of the Jews that funded the New World explorations, and those that dared defy the expulsions of Jews, Moors and Gypsies through battles, art, occult, ancient Hebraic Kabballah mysticism and magical strategies as they interact with the main character: Don Sebastian, chivalrous knight, lord and accidental vampire.
The question became "what if I could show the rich, thrilling, layered, complex cultures of late 1400-early 1500 Renaissance Spain and Europe through the interwoven stories of a principled, heroic Vampire-Knight, his brilliant Sephardic Alchemist Wife, with some actual characters that peopled that world at a Game of Thrones-level visual and visceral stakes?"
The interwoven battles of good vs evil, dark and light, the secret, gruesome and weird torture machines of the Inquisition, romantic life inside the gorgeous castles, music, dance, war, wine, romance, parenting, deception and politics blended with the spice of Spain.
The tone of the series is of a great saga of a bygone age as it paces, twists, turns and claws its way into an uncertain future. As the Monarchy uses subjects, knights, nobles, heirs as chess pawns, and the church as a weapon, being undead is a distinct advantage. Despite the dark elements, the show will be a visual treat, not a dismal downer. It is Spain, not Transylvania! Unseen historically-accurate environments include the opulent home of the De Costas, Palace interiors, Gypsy caves, Moorish palaces, wine presses, ships, Canary Island plantation, shot in the gorgeous land of 3,000 real castles, true stories woven with fictional characters, wit and drama come to life.
BEYOND THE VAMPIRE KNIGHT
A deep dive into the secret and sacred world of late medieval knighting as the noble 'calling' of chivalry becomes a lost tradition. As Sebastian becomes blood-dependent he holds tight to chivalry even as his thirst rages. Encouraged by ghostly advisors to use his immortality to fight injustice, he tries everything to resist the urge to drink. Sometimes it even works. Meanwhile Ana is seeking the antidote to restore her beloved Sebastian to his living self--or is she? As a vampire, he is helping Jews escape and fight back. Is his recovery in their best interests? Perhaps not. Strategies abound as Sebastian and his Squire Pedro plot against the crown with flashy fighting and footwork.
Knighting lessons with weaponry included.
OCCULT SECRETS: ASTRONOMY, JEWISH MAGIC AND DESTINY
Essentially this side of the Inquisition story has not been explored. Powerful Sephardic and Arabic mysticism, alchemy and Jewish magic was alive and functioning--Spain is the birthplace of true Kabbalah. Real, forbidden magic was practiced to preserve and restore life. Magical spells, amulets, and secret language was used for enlightenment, and power. What sets this series apart is the magical storyline of Spain’s Jews—and the emergence of a Jewish heroine—the wife of Sebastian, a skilled Kabbalah Alchemist who finds the secret of eternal life. Highly sophisticated astronomy was bound to navigation, predictions, healing, magic and fate. Ana has mastered this, and uncovered 'the secrets of the blood'.
INSANE VISUALS, FIERY HISTORICAL ROMANCE, HEATED BATTLE, EVIL FRIARS, CLEVER STORYLINES. AND YES, IT'S DARK.
The Black Castle promises audiences a rich feast of visuals and stunning, intelligent, sensual, historical storylines with exquisite depictions of Medieval rituals of faith, life, love and Inquisitional 'persuasion' with FX. Shot in locations to die for, audiences will be transported in time. Fresco delivers high production values better than anyone in Spain.