So you’re a hotshot studio executive looking to churn out the next big thing (you’ve got that mortgage on your second LA beach house to be thinking about, after all), and, as usual, you’re flat out of ideas. And then one day it hits you: scripts have words in them. Books have words in them. So all it would take to make a book into a script is some slightly different words, in size twelve Courier font. Right?
Obviously this is correct. You spend a minute basking in your own genius before stubbing out your Cuban cigar and rubbing your hands together in anticipation. Time to dial up some literary agents!
But better slow down there, Mr. Producer- adapting books to film can be a tricky business. Lucky for you, we here at The Oxford Student have got your back. Here are some sure-fire tips for strangling every last drop of literary merit out of your source material…
1. Make something to make money.
This is pretty obviously the only reason to make movies, after all. Don’t even bother trying to create an adaptation that stands on its own artistic merits as an achievement in cinema comparable to the original novel. Heck, don’t even bother trying to make something viable as potential entertainment. Just slap the word Twilight on it and the kids will come anyways, right?
2. Dumb it down.
Everybody knows that the movies are the opiate of the masses- and the masses are as ignorant as they come. But passing up on big-name works would just be passing up free money, so it would practically be a crime to leave something like Anna Karenina unadapted. What’s a studio to do? Easy- just remove the Realist commentary on the vast panorama of Russian life and replace it with pretty dresses. Boom.
3. Adapt something into two parts.
This one operates on basically the same principles as #1. As conventional wisdom goes, if one film will make money, two films will make twice as much. Source material too short? Take a page out of Peter Jackson’s book and turn a relatively short novel into a bloated three-part adventure epic by just plain making things up. Your narrative structure and character growth will be totally shot, but boy will you be rolling in it!
4. Pick a book filled with things you can’t actually show on screen.
After all, audiences are just clamouring to see risqué books they enjoyed in the comfort and privacy of their own home stripped of anything indecent and viewed alongside a hundred horny strangers in a public place. Real stroke of genius, that.
5. Make it Darker and Edgier.
Nothing’s trendier these days than turning something lighthearted into an unwarranted angst-fest. You might be worried that this requires actual insight into the strife inherent in the human condition- but of course you needn’t be. Just tell the lighting department to ease up a bit and throw in some pretentious dialogue, and you’re all set.
And there you have it! Pick one or two of these, and odds are good you’ll have a blockbuster on your hands. Of course, we will concede that there is one drawback to these tips: you aren’t the first Hollywood executive to follow this advice, and as much as it pains us, we suspect you won’t be the last.