Friday, January 24, 2014

Adapting à la Adaptation

I know it's still early days in this blog back and forth we've got going on, but I want you to know, I have been doing my best to keep up my end of the deal (according to the totally arbitrary terms defined by me). Since I started blogging about this particular film, I have been trying to post something at least once a week. I always aim for Wednesdays, but I don't sweat it too much if Thursday gets a little love too.

But now here it is, 5 bells on Friday. So, I'm definitely late to the post this week. 

In my defence, however, I plead productivity. 

This week, I had my hands - and head - fairly full finishing my scene by scene mapping of that road trip of the mind I've been telling you about. And now, at roughly COCKTAIL HOUR on Friday, I am happy to report that it's done. From Fade Up to Fade Out. For this weekend, at least.

I feel I have to qualify the time window because really, until the film's shot, edited and actually on commercial screens, the writing of a film is never really done. And even then...

In my experience, the script you're writing - or, too often NOT writing - goes to bed with you, it wakes up with you, it sleeps with you - or it keeps you from sleeping while it gets some maddeningly undisturbable shuteye and you lie awake beside it doing all the thinking. 

In short, it moves in and makes itself at home - usually smack dab between you and your loved ones - until you find a way to physically remove it. This is most efficiently done by handing it over, as a finished film, to a distributor (or equivalent).  

And even then...

I think the best way to illustrate the uniquely strange state of being squatted by your screenplay is, in a multi-layered word, Adaptation

As a Charlie Kaufman/Spike Jonze fan, I first saw this film about a screenwriter struggling to adapt an unadaptable book when it came out in 2002 and was charmed, bemused and challenged by it. But at that time, I hadn't yet embarked on my own journey of writing features for the screen - let alone tackling the adaptation of someone else's existing work. Which, if it hasn't already become obvious, is what I am in the middle of doing right now. 

Needless to say, when I re-discovered this house of mirrors of a story about storytelling recently, I felt like I'd found my celluloid soul mate.

So if you're here because you have even a mildly morbid curiosity about what the inside of a screenwriter's mind can look, smell, sound and taste like while she's in the midst of trying to crack the nut of the screenplay she's supposed to write - take my advice, stop reading this blog right now and go experience that film! 

Because man or woman, young or old, at one point in the process of adapting to living with our scripts, we screenwriters all become obsessive, compulsive, balding, calcifying, self-loving, self-loathing, A.D.H.D., hypochondriacal, procrastinating protagonists in our own stories of creation. And it feels kind of good watching someone else doing it for a change. Especially when it all turns out well in the end - sort of.


  1. Donald Kaufman: I'm putting in a chase sequence. So the killer flees on horseback with the girl, the cop's after them on a motorcycle and it's like a battle between motors and horses, like technology vs. horse.

    Charlie Kaufman: And they're still all one person, right?

  2. Still working out some of the details... but that's the gist.