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Posts Tagged ‘True Blood’

The Holy Grail … Movie/TV Series options on Books

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on January 22, 2011

Who hasn’t been watching Alan Ball’s brilliant adaption of the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris?

It must be such thrill for a writer to see their characters and story realised in an excellent TV series. Kudos to Alan Ball and the team.

And we have the HBO George RR Martin Fire and Ice series to look forward to. Trailers here and here if you can’t wait for a taste.

But all is not plain sailing for authors whose intellectual property gets optioned for film and/or television. Firstly only a very small percentage that are optioned. My agent, John Jarrold, is associated with the Gotham Group in Los Angeles, a management production company. John says:

‘One in 1,000 books are actually optioned for medium to large amounts of money.  One in 100 of those actually have a film made from them.  Those are rough figures, obviously!  The agency has had film interest in a number of titles, but NONE have actually had a serious option payment made on them.’

Here, Ally Carter, author of the Gallagher Girls series and Heist Society talks about her experiences with three different production companies on three different film options.

She starts with a disclaimer. eg.  if you say authors never have a say in what happens to their books when they get made into movies, then someone will point to JK Rowling. Then she covers the different types of options and the other things such as the script, timing and talent (actors).

Here is a list of books that have been made into movies. And Here is a list of 20 good books that were made into not-so-good movies. Many of these are spec fic.

And here we have a look at what makes a good book to movie adaptation. They say:

‘a good bookish movie is more than a sum of the total of the book’s parts — the Watchmen proved that beyond any doubt. Watchmen stayed true to the book’s plot with slavish devotion, portrayed the characters with flawless accuracy, and even duplicated the look of the original illustrations. Yet, despite all of that, the magic Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons managed to work with pen and paper didn’t translate to the big screen. It was a good movie, but it certainly wasn’t great.’

They go on to say achieving a great adaptation is not about slavishly following the book, it ‘ lies in the film’s success at concentrating and magnifying the feelings readers have when they read the book.’ And they go on to analyze five examples. I would have to agree with Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings. When Jackson adapted the book to the movie, he did what I did while reading the book to my children. He cut out the boring parts and condensed the action, sticking to the strongly emotive moments.

Unless we are JK Rowling, we authors usually have very little to do with the adaptation of our book into a movie or TV series. Books and film are completely different mediums and what works in one, will not work in the others. I teach script writing, storyboard and animatics and I am constantly saying to my students how are you going to show what your character is thinking? You’ll need a flashback. How are you going to convey the character’s realisation? You’ll need a visual metaphor. Don’t try to cover a story that takes 20 years, compress, set a time limit if possible.

When you do get someone who is able to crystalise the essence of the book and even improve on it, then it is a joy as with True Blood and Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings.

Not every author’s experiences are so uplifting.  Here Ursula Le Guin talks about how the Sci Fi Chanel whitewashed Earthsea. She says:

‘A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan, which were published more than 30 years ago, are about two young people finding out what their power, their freedom, and their responsibilities are. I don’t know what the film is about. It’s full of scenes from the story, arranged differently, in an entirely different plot, so that they make no sense.’

One of the main disappointments for her was the use of white actors to play coloured characters. Here on her own web site, Le Guin talks about her experience and how she felt the director was putting words in her mouth. She ends with:

‘I wonder if the people who made the film of The Lord of the Rings had ended it with Frodo putting on the Ring and ruling happily ever after, and then claimed that that was what Tolkien “intended…” would people think they’d been “very, very honest to the books”?’

The message seems to be for authors to go into movie/TV adaptations with their eyes open . You can be incredibly lucky and have a director/script writer who takes the best from you book and makes it more accessible to the general public, or you can be left wondering if they read the book at all.

What adaptations have you seen that impressed you?



Posted in Agents, Collaborating, Creativity, Editing and Revision, Genre TV Shows, Movie/TV Adaptations | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Feasting on Spec Fic TV Shows

Posted by Rowena Cory Daniells on January 25, 2010

This holiday I’ve been watching Dark Angel. It came out in 2000 and I never heard of it until now. They only made two seasons. My favourite so far is the episode where Bruno returns. Very droll.

It took Buffy two seasons to hit its stride. I only have the first season of Dark Angel, but I can’t see why it didn’t take off.

Then I remember that Fire Fly was cancelled part way through its first season and all I can do is shake my head.

Meanwhile, Charlaine Harris, the author the the Southern Vampire Series that is True Blood, is coming to Australia in September. See here for info, scroll down to the bottom. I really enjoyed the TV show, especially the slutty brother. Again, very droll!

Here’s a pic for True Blood fans.

Posted in Genre TV Shows, Genre Writing | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »