Ubisoft is working on scripts for a “Child of Light” live-action television show and a “Werewolves Within” movie, the company told Variety. Both video game adaptations are products of the company’s inaugural Women’s Film and Television Fellowship.
“We were so thrilled with the outcome of this fellowship, it is exactly what we wanted,” Margaret Boykin, director of film development, told Variety. “We were so lucky to work with these two women.”
The fellowship, which continues this fall with a new duo of female screenwriters, kicked off last summer when Ubisoft announced the paid program specifically designed to “illuminate female voices within the entertainment industry.”
Mishna Wolff and Tasha Huo were selected as the first two in the program and were given access to Ubisoft’s massive library of properties. After each selected a property for potential development — one for TV and another for film — they spent six months working one-on-one with either Boykin or Danielle Kreinik, director of television development. Jason Altman, head of film and television, also helped oversee the program.
The program wrapped up with both Wolff and Huo pitching their ideas to Ubisoft Motion Pictures. Both were given script deals.
With the program wrapped up, Wolff is now scripting a film adaptation of Ubisoft’s virtual reality game “Werewolves Within,” and Huo is writing a pilot for the television adaptation of Ubisoft role-playing game “Child of Light.”
Huo told Variety that she is a longtime fan of the game and often talked about her desire to adapt it into a show, even before she was awarded the fellowship.
She said when she started the fellowship, she still made it a point to look through Ubisoft’s collection of properties before settling on “Child of Light.”
“There are so many stories you could find in their library,” she said. “There were other genres that did interest me, but my wish was to adapt ‘Child of Light.’”
She describes the game as a “playable fairytale with a strong female heroine,” and said the plan is to capture that same feel in a live-action show.
“We love that the game centers around Aurora discovering strength,” she said. “I love video games and I’m passionate about them, but you want people who have never heard of these games to fall in love with them.”
Kreinik said that Huo stood out during the application process because her script sample was so on point with the type of character and the story she wanted to tell.
“She really knew how to tell a rich story that was interesting with characters that you don’t initially think are the right storytellers,” she said.
In Wolff’s case, her decision to work on adapting “Werewolves Within” was a bit of a surprise to everyone involved.
“When I first came to Ubisoft there was another one I was interested in,” Wolff told Variety. “But ‘Werewolves Within’ kept gnawing at me.”
The virtual reality game has players sitting in a village, trying to deduce which among them is the werewolf. The goal is to either guess who the werewolf is, or if you’re the werewolf, to convince the others it’s not you.
Wolff said that mix of social deduction and deliberate deceit lends itself to political satire set in a small town.
“It kept popping into my head,” she said. “It was just demanding I tell a story.”
She describes the movie-treatment of the game as a live-action horror comedy set in a small town where its residents play judge, jury, and executioner.
Boykin said she was a little surprised that they landed on “Werewolves Within,” but that the end result was a “slam dunk.”
Once both women had settled on their projects, they spent all of their time putting together a pitch, working both on their own and with their mentors and others at Ubisoft.
“It really is a dream come true fellowship,” Huo said. “On day one it was assumed you would put together a pitch that’s right to make a show.”
Wolff said she sometimes worries about landing fellowships and not jobs.
“I do feel that women can get stuck in the fellowship loop, where they just get one fellowship after another and it never leads to a job,” she said. “‘We think you have talent, but we’re not going to pay you.’”
But this fellowship did pay and led to further work for both women.
That pay, Huo noted, allowed her to focus entirely on the fellowship and pay her bills. She said that going through the process also gave her more confidence.
“It’s such an open, trusting environment here,” she said. “It allows you to be vulnerable and trust the process.”
Wolff added that because it focuses on the development process, she was able to learn a lot.
“It walks you through a kinder, gentler development process,” she said. “I never felt like I needed to be perfect or that my idea needed to be perfect. If I hadn’t had that experience, I don’t think I would have come up with the ideas that I did.”
Ubisoft kicks off the second year of the fellowship this fall with the application process starting on Nov. 1. As with the first year, two female screenwriters will be selected for a six-month paid fellowship that provides mentorship and the opportunity to dig through Ubisoft’s portfolio of games for potential development into feature films or television series.
Ubisoft Motion Pictures has a number of films currently in development including “Tom Clancy’s The Division,” with David Leitch attached to direct and Jake Gyllenhaal and Jessica Chastain set to star. The film will be produced by Leitch and his producing partner, Kelly McCormick, through their 8711 banner, as well as Gyllenhaal and Riva Marker of Nine Stories and Chastain and Kelly Carmichael of Freckle Films alongside Ubisoft.
Additional feature films in development include “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon” with Michael Bay attached to executive produce for Warner Brothers Pictures, and “Rabbids.” Additionally, Ubisoft’s first ever live-action comedy series has been ordered straight to series by Apple and will be produced in partnership with Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day, 3 Arts Entertainment, and Lionsgate Television. Ubisoft Motion Pictures’ first film, “Assassin’s Creed,” opened in 2016.
“What we are setting out to do in the entertainment department of Ubisoft is to really make shows that are accessible to non-gamers,” Kreinik said. “We want to create things that are welcoming so gamers can introduce others to these worlds.”