Sunday, March 1, 2015

From Page to Screen: Screenplays

Okay so I realize that I’ve been doing a lot of these, from page-to-screen, reviews, critiques, opinions, etc. But with the way the movie industry has been working as of late; cranking out movie after movie adapted from bestselling novels, it only seems appropriate that I, a self-appointed book nerd, give my opinion on the subject. I mean ultimately writing books is what I want to do, I want that to be my full-time job because that is where I find the most joy. For now though I continue to read what’s on the market and even see the movies, though don’t ask me to see 50 Shades of Grey, it’s not happening!

Thus I reach my point of this particular blog. Lately the internet has been inundated with 50 Shades, and justifiably so it was a best-selling novel and anticipated by many to hit the big screen; but of course where there are fans there are also nay-sayers. I would probably fall into the latter category, though I’m not quite as vocal as some I’ll just leave it at 50 Shades does not intrigue or interest me at all and leave it at that.

So when I tell you I’ve been following articles about the franchise it may shock you, but hey it’s all the internet wants to talk about and sometimes a slow day at work means reading Yahoo articles just to pass the time. That’s when I happened upon an article that made me shake my head and cringe.

E.L. James wants to be the exclusive writer for the screenplay for the 50 Shades sequel.

Someone’s joking here right? She really wants THAT much control over the next film? Demanding, in fact, enough control that would ultimately delay any and all production and bringing things to a grinding halt before they’ve even begun?

As an aspiring author myself you’d think I would be all for it! Hell yeah authors writing their own screenplays to their movies! This will be great! Wrong! Once more for affect … W-R-O-N-G! WRONG!

Look I get the appeal, I mean I would’ve been totally willing to sit in the theater for 17 straight hours and watch Harry Potter if it meant no detail had to hit the cutting room floor, no matter how miniscule. But that’s not everyone. Hey there’s plenty of people that are just not into reading and would simply rather see the movie, I consider to be blasphemy, but it’s a choice that others make and I’m okay with it. That’s why details need to hit the floor, it’s why cuts need to be made, it’s why pacing and timing are so important to keep the integrity of the book and the story while still creating something entirely different to capture a new audience!

I’m all for collaboration! Authors do need some level of control over the project; their voices must be heard during the production process. I mean my work is my baby! I pour my heart and soul into what I write! If I were ever lucky enough to have even a fraction of the success E.L. James has been blessed with I would not be acting as she has been. Yes she is entitled to be a bit of a mama bear protecting her cub, but she also needs to loosen the reins a bit and give away some of that control. She's basically a one hit wonder, her first novel sky rocketed, and it would probably only benefit her to learn from those that have been writing professionally for years! 

Collaboration! That’s key! Writing screenplays is an entirely different animal from novels/fiction. There are different rules! Formatting is completely different. Now I’m amenable and I would say if the author has prior movie experience, has written screenplays before or has even been trained on the How To’s of screenwriting then of course! Give the author some leeway and let them pen the screenplay, Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay for Gone Girl! You go girl!

Here lies the difference though, in my mind at least, Gillian Flynn wrote the screenplay and her novel was a standalone. The movie was very successful but not 17 straight hours; details did need to be omitted and scenes were cut in the name of timing and pacing but the integrity of the book remained. E.L. James had a spat with the screenwriter for the first movie while she worked alongside him to create the screenplay and now believes she can take on the task and handle it herself.

Maybe she can, who knows? But realistically if she can handle it we won’t be seeing a sequel for two years, at minimum! The clock is ticking and I’m starting to think the 50 Shades fever will cool long before start of production is announced let alone ac actual release date for the film.

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