Tuesday, December 12, 2006

To Everything Turn, Turn, Turn....

Over at John August's blog, he brought in this recent LA Times article, There follows a great discussion on the strings and arrows of a novelist's demands and furies after a novel was adapted into an underperforming film.

A lot of comments brewing, good arguments on both sides of the issue. (I haven't chimed in there, only because others have spoken for me.)

My position is this: aside from the legal issues, an author should do all in his/her power to support the filmmakers to make the best film version, and that includes dropping antagonistic attitudes to screenwriters, and instead being part of the team.

When comparing books to film versions, the "book was better" argument doesn't wash with me. They're two different ways for telling stories.

In this case the irate author doesn't seem to be able to accept the "kill your darlings" principle, which, I think, applies to the process of adapting, than just to rewrites.


taZ said...

C'mon man! Don't do a "Dave" on us again ;)


Oh, I'm with the studios, not Cussler. He's simply too arrogant and weird.

Dave Olden said...

"... do a "Dave" " ?

Is that a dance step? ;)

"Oh, I'm with the studios, not Cussler. He's simply too arrogant and weird."

I suppose, if I were to firmly take sides, I'm on the same side as you.

The sad part is that Cussler's behavior doesn't need to be insulting and rude. He can either support the project once he's sold the rights, or he can beat the hell out of the screenwriters, and create resentment.

His was not a supportive attitude.

He may have (I stress: "may") have hurt his chances of anyone wanting to work with him in the future.

taZ said...


Nah, I think he has. And even if somebody wants to work with him, it's going to state in the contract that Cussler is completely cut off after giving the rights.

But Cussler would never agree to this unless he got $50 mill dollars. Which is more than the movie-budget.

Conclusion, we've seen the first and last Dirk Pitt story. A bad one.

Dave Olden said...

I stressed "may" so intently, because this industry makes for 'strange' bedfellows, and it's hard to read what the future may bring.

I really don't know, and won't pretend to.

That said, I really do believe he has fresh bullet holes in his feet after all that, and they'll take a long time to heal.

I haven't seen any DIRK PITT movies. Cussler hasn't exactly encouraged me to.

annabel said...

I can understand a novelist wanting to protect his story, but this is crazy! Cussler never should have been given such control because he is not qualified. Being a successful novelist does not make you a good screenwriter and it definitely doesn't make you any good at making movies.

Cussler said, "I felt like an artist who creates a picture and then someone else comes along and paints over it."


Dave Olden said...


I read the article, but I missed that comment.

Clive might have more honestly said, "I'll sell you my square peg for ten million dollars, for your round hole. But it must stay a square peg. That's gotta be in the contract, or no deal."

And the solution....

Before signing contracts, psych-profile novelists. Measure their tendency for antagonism AND their capacity to work productively with others. If the needle points antagonist, it's not worth it. (Time to reach for the slush pile for the next one..)

For guys like Cussler, the electrodes go on with duct tape.

I think that the lesson, if he's learned it (which I doubt), is: find filmmakers you trust, and then let them do what they do.

Finding someone to trust in Hollywood I leave as an exercise for the reader.

.. DaveO

Alex Epstein's take on the issue you'll find in the December 17th, and 18th postings, and one about adaptations for the 19th.

Site Meter