Complications Ensue: The Crafty Game, TV and Screenwriting Blog
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty Screenwriting, TV and Game Writing Blog


April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014

December 2014

January 2015

February 2015

March 2015

April 2015

May 2015

June 2015

August 2015

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

December 2015

January 2016

February 2016

March 2016

April 2016

May 2016

June 2016

July 2016

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

February 2017

March 2017

May 2017

June 2017

July 2017

August 2017

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

March 2018

April 2018

June 2018

July 2018

October 2018

November 2018

December 2018

January 2019

February 2019

November 2019

February 2020

March 2020

April 2020

May 2020

August 2020

September 2020

October 2020

December 2020

January 2021

February 2021

March 2021

May 2021

June 2021

November 2021

December 2021

January 2022

February 2022

August 2022

September 2022

November 2022

February 2023

March 2023

April 2023

May 2023

July 2023

September 2023

November 2023

January 2024

February 2024


Friday, March 16, 2018

Q. Picked up a paperback (interesting blend of action and horror) at the local dollar store and when I finally got round to reading it, liked it enough to inquire about optioning film rights. They are available.

Tha author's LA agency strongly suggests "partnering" with a producer who will let me write the adaptation. They also would be receptive to an offer by me.

I don't have a strong relationship with a film maker to trust not getting cut out of the picture. That leaves the scenario of making an attractive offer, writing the thing, then doing The Shopping (without an agent, of course). Sheeesh!
Here's the thing. A bestseller is valuable to a producer or a studio. It is a bankable element. There is a proven audience for this world and this story. Most books you find at the dollar store are proven to have a small audience. So basing your screenplay on one may not be helpful.

On the other hand, how faithful an adaptation do you plan to make? You can't copyright an idea. You can only copyright the expression of an idea. E.g. no one can copyright "girl romanced by vampire"; they can only copyright a girl named Bella being romanced by a creepy stalkery sparkly vampire and a hot werewolfey dude on the West Coast, etc. etc.

Novels don't usually adapt well to movies, because the plot of a movie is basically a short story.

(Some novelists write in a very cinematic easy-to-adapt style. There are reasons every John Grisham novel gets an adaptation, and being best sellers is only one of them. They generally have only one or two points of view, and time flows at a regular pace. There's no, "Over the course of the next few years, Johnny came to understand...." Everything that happens in them is a scene involving at least one of a core cast of a few people talking, fighting or going somewhere in a hurry. There are few flashbacks. You always know exactly what is happening and who it's happening to. The characters have very little inner life unless it's also expressed in dialog. Etc.)

So the best adaptation is often an unfaithful one, or rather, one that is faithful to the theme and the spirit of the novel, not the details of the plot. An introverted character may need to become talkative. A long thought process will need to become a verbal argument. You will almost certainly merge characters and cut others.

It may be that your unfaithful adaptation winds up so far from the novel that you really only have to change the names of the characters, and you no longer need to option the novel.

Now, I'm not a lawyer, and no lawyer is likely to tell you exactly where that line is. But consider that Fifty Shades of Grey started out as Twilight fanfic. And consider that there are a bazillion books and a bazillion scripts and really not that many plots.

This approach will also free you to write a better screenplay. You can usually tell a movie adapted from a book because there are scenes that are cool that don't really forward the story: that's the screenwriter trying to keep a scene from the book that really doesn't fit in the movie.

So what I would do in your case is read the book and then put it away somewhere. Do not read it again. Write a script based on it. And by "write a script," I mean, as always, tell it as a story, orally, over and over to anyone who will listen, until you can tell the entire story off the top of your head because it flows so naturally. You will wind up adding scenes. You will forget a lot of scenes; oh well, they were forgettable.

After you've finished writing the script, reread the book and see if you have stolen anything copyrightable. My guess is you will not have.

You have now saved a few thousand bucks, and you can't get removed from the project.

Not everyone will agree with this advice, and the line between copyrightable and not copyrightable is not bright and clear. But the times I've optioned material it's generally been a pain in the ass that I optioned it, especially because the script came out so differently than the source material. So there you go.

Note also that this process is not how producers generally approach adaptation. That's because (a) they have money (b) scripts cost more money to them than options (c) they can take a book and an option to someone else to give them money. Hence the above is not how, say, Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds gets made. But if you're a screenwriter without a track record, then optioning a book may not be the best way to go.


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger.