Book Reviews by Brenda
‘What makes a great film adaptation?’
At the August Byron Bay Writers’ Festival I attended a session on film adaptation. Speakers were Andrew Knight of Sea Change and Rake, Elliot Pearlman author of Three Dollars and The Street Sweeper, and Keith Thompson of The Sapphires and Clubland.
The three screenwriters were outrageously funny but I think my notes makes sense – (always follow the laughter at a book festival, you’ll thoroughly enjoy yourself and learn lots too).
Thus – screen plays are action driven and immersive while prose is contemplative. Every book has a character of its own and to capture its essence you must direct from the page.
If you love the book, find the philosophical undertakings. It’s a wrestle and not always a satisfying one.
Equal weight should be given to everything. There should be a variety of voices as in a bank robbery. Recite dialogue aloud to get the ‘voice’. (They complained of the lack of voice in Australian writing). You need musicality for dialogue. Words are allusive and a screenplay can take a long time to write. (It took Thompson five years to write The Sapphires). You are always haunted by what you want to do and what you are doing. Music and image have a powerful conjunction but nothing beats good writing.
As a rule of thumb, a page of screenplay takes a moment of screen time. The nationally of the actor will alter the script, such as an Irish actor being cast as the minister in Sapphires. Seek an original ending, but it must relate to the audience. Collaborating with the author can’t be generalised as no two experiences are the same.