Great Adaptations – Based on a Novel by What T Dickens

I’m running a workshop at Aye Write next Friday, along a screenwriter I know well, Sergio Casci, and a producer I know almost as well but haven’t slept with yet (Claire Mundell of Synchronicity Films).


The three of us have been working on a film adaption of my thriller, The Devil’s Staircase, for 107 years. All going well, it’ll be filmed later this year.


The process has been fascinating – from finding the right producers, deciding who should write the screenplay, enticing a hot director (still top secret), and now – choosing the cast.


It’s scary, though. What if I hate it? What if it’s nothing like the book? Who will I blame? Even scarier, what if it’s nothing like the book and I love love love it?


My favourite adaptations are probably from short stories, like Stephen King’s The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist, perhaps because there’s just too much material in a full novel. And so many adaptations get it wrong, stuffing it all in no matter what, or leaving out the crucial element that glued it together.


I’m curious – what are your favourite adaptations?

And which ones made you scratch at your eyeballs? (Captain Corelli springs to mind for me…)








~ by helenfitzgerald on March 1, 2012.

11 Responses to “Great Adaptations – Based on a Novel by What T Dickens”

  1. Fight Club and Trainspotting both somehow captured the essence of the books, which seemed kinda unfilmable when I read em.Also, have you seen Jindabyne? Aussie adaptation of Carver story – brilliant, brilliant film. Dx


  2. Yeah, those two were great. Will check out Jindabyne. The Slap was a fab TV adaptation of the book – better even somehow. Voice-over can be a give-away, though… soon as you hear it you know it’s an adaptation and the screenwriters got lazy (Worked for TS though but not many others).


  3. Just remembered Shawshank R has voiceover too. And watching Election right now which is one of my all time faves. Take it all back about not liking v/overs.


  4. Goodfellas is my all time favourite film, so that’d have to be up there. Others I’d go for…Stand By Me (Based on The Body by Stephen King)Silence of the LambsOne Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Even though it’s somewhat different to the book in parts)The GodfatherShutter Island.I hear very good things about We Need To Talk About Kevin, but haven’t seen the film or read the book!Also, I’d throw in Lord of the Rings in as a very faithful adaptation to the books…they’re both as boring as each other.


  5. True Luca. I think the best way to get your book made into a film is to sell over a million copies of your book!


  6. Or sleep with a screenwriter… 😉


  7. I’m targeting Aaron Sorkin next time.


  8. I’ve already tried that. He’s a tender lover. But he never calls you.


  9. WINTER’S BONE (based on the wonderful Daniel Woodrell novel) was excellent. I used to be really annoyed when the film was nothing like the book but, having adapted a short story of my own, with the resulting screenplay turning out to be completely unrelated (and I mean not even third cousin twice removed) to the short story it was based on, I’ve given up comparing and just enjoy both incarnations. Of course, there are also the films which are an improvement (THE ROAD springs to mind). I need to check out Doug’s recommendation of Jindabyne as I love Raymond Carver’s short stories.


  10. The Devil’s Staircase has changed a lot and I’m tempted to rewrite the book… With every change, I’ve thought "Of course! Why the hell didn’t I realise that?"I can imagine it’d be a nightmare to have an overly-precious author peering over the screenwriter’s shoulder.


  11. We need to talk about We Need to Talk about Kevin! Watched it last night.I loved the book. Thought the movie was an over-indulgent imagery-fest that drowned the gloomy-enough-already in good old fashioned Scottish gloom. Did she need to have blood on her hands in every scene?So disappointed with this.


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