A few days ago I went through some of my old writing files on my computer seeing what jumps out at me and what inspires me today; and, for some unexplained reason, my mind began to think about film adaptations.
There is a great public misnomer about film adaptations. When you hear people talk about films adapted from books or plays, the audience seems to think that the screenplay writer had a choice in making changes for the big screen. “Why couldn’t he have just filmed the book?” You would hear that complaint a lot around the Harry Potter films in podcasts and forums, for example.
The fact is film is a different medium than books, and with it comes its own limitations and strengths. While the borders on a book are only limited by the imagination of the reader (and writer), a film has to be focused on one point at a time, understanding that there is only so much space on the screen at any given moment. Length, pacing, and audience need to be considered (You can’t have things happen “off screen” in a movie, for example; the audience will think it didn’t happen if they didn’t see it).
The greatest difference between film and books, is that a film has got to “earn” your attention for every minute. It is harder for a film to “suspend disbelief.” Which means a story, while in a book can be stretched out, in a film there has to be action. In other words, there must always be movement; it’s how they keep our eyes on the screen and our hands out of the popcorn bowl. Continue reading →