With the Writer's Guild members on strike, it's time for you wannabe screenwriters to push through the picket lines and get noticed. I don't actually know how possible this is. I kinda shrugged off my own mother's suggestion of this idea thinking it not possible -- well, that and the fact that I haven't really wanted to be a screenwriter for many years now. But I figure, if possible, the easiest way to get noticed would be to write up a brilliant adaptation of a popular book that's been in need of a good script. Need some examples of such books? Check out The Onion's latest list, "If you film it ... : 21 good books that need to be great films, like now." Many of these books have already been optioned by or sold to producers and some of them are currently on the track to getting made. Others, like Confederacy of Dunces, have been attached to multiple filmmakers and stars for nearly thirty years now. Someday it will probably get filmed, but the point of this list is not that it needs to be adapted. It needs to be adapted well. Actually, better than well. In the satirical paper's words, it needs to be a great film.
To admit how badly read I am, at least with regards to popular fiction, I've only read three of the 21 books. The rest I'm at least familiar with through news of their respective film deals and/or development, much of which Cinematical has covered. Of those three I've read, one is something I was recently excited about being adapted until it fell through, one is something I can't imagine making a great film because memoirs hardly work cinematically, and one I've seen adapted once and could care less about being adapted again, especially since it's the subject of an annoying legal battle (can you guess the three?). Anyway, the list is pretty well-thought out, but it made me wonder what most people think makes a great adaptation. Do people really prefer movie versions to be literal translations, or do they want something less redundant in their adaptations? Personally, I've always championed the latter. To me, a great film is one that is brilliant enough that: 1) You don't easily say the usual, "the book was better," nonsense; 2) You can still read the book without it having been ruined by the film -- major points if you can even ignore the cast of the film while reading; 3) It utilizes the film medium so that it now seems necessarily appropriate that the story is being depicted visually rather than verbally; 4) That it communicates new ideas that the novel didn't communicate. I know of three adaptations that come closest to fulfilling these four standards of excellence, To Kill a Mockingbird, About a Boy and Adaptation. I'm sure there's plenty others, but like I said, I'm not well-read enough to be sure.