Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Writer's Right

When George Rideout assigned Barbara the screen adaptation rights to his play Michel and Ti-Jean, he told us he didn't feel the need to be involved in the writing of the film script. The way he saw it, he'd already said everything he'd felt compelled to say when he wrote the play. And he still has so many other plays he wants to write, he doesn't have time to go over creative ground he's already covered. And covered well. Which is entirely fair enough. 

So, throughout this adaptation process, he and I have carried on a sparse and cordial correspondence, occasionally punctuated with the odd email saying he's available if I have any questions, or he likes the title I've chosen, or we could meet for a coffee when he comes to town. Otherwise though, true to his word, George Rideout has always stayed completely clear of the adaptation nitty gritty.

The last time we met over coffee, though, something changed... And even then, I didn't realize it had changed until the very end of the encounter. As we were saying our goodbyes, George threw out this off-handed remark: "If you'd like, I could read your next draft....".


So that was last fall. And it wasn't until this spring that I had a next draft solid enough to even think of showing anyone, let alone the very man whose wonderful theatrical work I was wrestling into cinematic submission.

But now that this second draft has been slow-cooked to the point the meat is practically falling off the bone, I guess I'm finally ready...

So, to wit:

Dear George,

Please find enclosed the 2nd draft of A Nutshell of Infinite Space.

I'm excited for you to read, but also a little nervous - as you might well be yourself!

In order to ease you into this strange, but familiar universe,  I'd like to give you a few "heads up" before you take the plunge:

- You are going to encounter new layers to your "story". I haven't turned it into Die Hard, exactly, but this iteration of your original idea has taken on a more adventurous shape and a dimension that is true to me, while still respecting the spirit of your play and most importantly, the relationships the play evokes. 

- Some timelines may not always seem to respect reality - but please bear with it. There is a method to my madness.

- I’ve used as much of your fantastic dialogue that I can keep intact in its entirety. In other places, I have truncated it for rhythm's sake, and very occasionally (please don’t freak out) I have attributed the words of one character to another.  

And finally, the last thing I'd like to say is, thank you. For your words, your wisdom and your characters. I hope you will feel that I have done - and will continue to do - my level best at respecting and honouring them all.

I'll leave the next word to you.

So, with that, I sent the package off to George's home in the Eastern Townships and waited.  Even if those who'd read it so far had given me positive feedback, I needed to know that George could get behind what I'd done before I could go further.

About a week went by before I got this note :
Hi Tara,

I received the package. It will be a week to ten days before I’m able to go through it due to other tasks which are less interesting but annoyingly pressing.

So, looks like I will have to wait a bit longer ... 

À suivre!

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