SEE UPDATES IN COMMENT SECTION
A few of you have sent private messages asking if I'm going to write a follow-up post for the Start to Finish segment of this blog. By all means, yes, I meant to do that this week and I apologize. It will focus on what to do now that you've finished your first draft... aside from open a bottle of wine and celebrate.
I haven't had much time to blog, I've been busy with, oh, you know... stuff. I spent 3 days on the set of a reshoot for The Seeker: The Dark is Rising, which is coming out on Oct 5th in both Canada and the U.S. It was primarily shot in Romania, so it was interesting to hear about the cast and crew's 3 month adventure there.
There's been some controversy about what "Hollywood" has done to this beloved story, based on the 2nd book of a series by U.K born author Susan Cooper. I totally understand the concerns. But some of the comments towards the "American kid" playing the main character are particularly venomous (in the book he's an 11 year old Brit and in the film he's a 13 year old American). It just breaks my heart that anyone would give him a hard time. First of all, he's Canadian, not American. Second, he auditioned for the part and they picked him - it's not like he was purposefully trying to ruin the story. But mostly, he's just a really GREAT kid. One of the sweetest and most conscientious young actors I have ever met. He was so eager and so excited about playing this part. He worked very hard at it, too.
As well, the rest of the cast and crew were the nicest people you could ever work with. And this doesn't always happen in the film business, so I was really impressed. I hope it's really good and does well. Everyone on that set was doing their best to make a really good film.
I used to be a snob about movies not representing books properly, and then after becoming a screenwriter and working in the film industry, I now understand that they are two completely different mediums. First off, novels are mostly solo projects. The author is the writer, director, actors, cinematographer, etc... and authors have far more luxury and leeway. You can do things in a novel that you can't do in a film. Films are collaborative, costly, have time / length limitations, and the stories need to be whittled down to their core in order to fit the format and keep an audience interested. Subplots and characters often need to be cut to make it work. It's a high pressure, high finance endeavor with many people making decisions (and audiences being very difficult to please).
I really discovered the difference between books and films when I wrote a treatment for the film version of Geek Love (I SO wanted to write the screenplay, but alas, didn't get the job). It's one of my favourite books and I had to cut out all the material set in the present, including the character of Miss Lick, as well as a few other subplots to make the story work for film. I thought Katherine Dunn would be offended, but when I told her I would have to make those cuts she said, "of course you do, it's an entirely different medium." I don't think I "butchered" it, but hardcore fans might have been upset.
She also pointed out that making the movie, whether it's good or bad, does NOT take away from the book. The book will always be there to enjoy. If someone makes a great movie based on a book, well then Bravo, even better! In addition, sometimes movies are "based" on stories or "inspired by" stories and not necessarily direct adaptations. You have to take all this into consideration.
And to all the people claiming they will boycott it because they don't like the way it's being done, film-makers have had over 30 years to make this book into a film and it hadn't been made. I'm sure Susan Cooper will get plenty of new fans out of it. I know I'm going to read her books now, I've already looked them all up on Amazon. And I think anything that gets people to read more is a good thing.
Some movies manage to stay closer to the book, some have no choice but to make changes. Some don't even try. Two of my favourite books-into-movies are High Fidelity (loved the book and thought by placing it in the U.S. it would be ruined, but I love the movie, too) and The Sweet Hereafter (It was totally necessary to change the structure of the story or else it wouldn't have worked as a film).
If anyone has read the Dark is Rising series, let me know what you think. I guess people think that if it's a BAD film, then no one will ever be able to fix it.
I have PLENTY of complaints about Hollywood, mind you. I just wanted to address the fact that books and movies are two different things and that people don't usually set out to make BAD movies. If you've ever made a film, you'll understand what a challenging process it is.