CREATIVE ADAPTING

There has been a lot of talk of adaptations recently. Between Wheel of Time, Sandman and everything else under the sun, adaptations are either a dream come true, or a nightmare, depending on your expectations. Expectations can either be low and grant a measure of acceptance to the presented work, or high and ultimately grant a measure of disappointment. Expectations can mirror critical acclaim or defy it.

I was part of a writing circle that used to meet at a local library once a month in order to swap stories and critique and analyze previously swapped stories. Most of the stories were short stories that could be written and read quickly so that we could give tips to each other on how to improve our works and help each other out. One of my partners in film-making put the meet up together and ran the meetings. He really loved one of the participants stories and wanted to adapt it to film.

I found this idea new and interesting and was excited to take a crack at it. The original story was a science fiction piece where most of the action took place on a space ship from where a space battle was being directed. This wouldn’t work for a small budget film studio. So I boiled down the essence of the story and changed the dialogue enough to make it work as a more historical piece.

The crux of the story is about a boy king coming into power making big, military decision that affected the lives of many. So I placed that premise into a Civil War Era type setting. I also made the setting on an alternate world rather than ours because I didn’t want to have to search history for a situation that precisely fit the needs of the story or that would change the story too much. In tone and style, I felt I kept what the author of the original was trying to convey.

This film was the second where I took on the reigns of directing as well as writing. This helped with my visualization of the material and how I wanted to convey the theme. Also, my efficiency of direction had improved from my freshman effort and I had a better grasp on how to run the show. If I remember correctly, we filmed the whole thing in two days. For that sense of history required for the scenes to work, we were able to get some great military costumes and other decorative props. The original writer of the short story had a connection with someone at Boston University and got us access to one of their historical buildings from the 18th century. This provided us with a beautiful setting for a king to make momentous, historical decisions from.

Of course, I’m biased in saying we improved on the original with our adaptation. But, there are very few who could refute me, so there, ha! In all seriousness, the film became something else than its origin. That is what you want from an adaptation. That is what Peter Jackson did for the Lord of the Rings. It’s not Tolkien. It’s a film trilogy called, The Lord of the Rings. If you’re up for it, check out my film called, A Last Resort.

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Author: Jarrod

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