#MidWeekPOV – Rrrrring! Hollywood Calling!

 

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Picture this. The phone rings. It’s a big name Hollywood movie producer. Yeah, I know it wouldn’t really be him/her in person, but humor me. Go with it. So, it’s a famous producer, and he wants to make a blockbuster movie out of your latest book. 

What do you do?

Do you do as most would? Say yes immediately, then spend three days in a delirious whirlwind of disbelief, running up your long distance phone bills to the approximate size of the national debt, screaming “Neener, neener, neener!” to every person you ever knew who pooh-poohed your writing skills?

Or do you actually take the time to think the offer through . . . and THEN sign away your rights and do all of the above?

When I started getting comments that my second Wake-Robin Ridge book, A Boy Named Rabbit, would make a beautiful movie, I asked myself that question. Not because I believed it was ever likely to happen, but just because I wondered how I’d react in that situation. Would I even try to salvage some shred of integrity and demand to retain creative approval rights over a few things? Casting, for instance. (The one thing that Hollywood is sure to get wrong 99.9% of the time.)

I’ve thought about it, and–don’t laugh, now–I just can’t see myself telling Hollywood they can take a story I’ve sweated blood over and stick (fill in the blank here with the name of whatever actor is currently a hot property) into the part of a character he doesn’t even vaguely resemble. I think that would make me even angrier than having them change the ending of my story.  Casting 5’6″ Tom Cruise as 6’5″ Jack Reacher comes to mind, and not only because the size difference is preposterous. Sorry, but Tom Cruise is not the intimdating force of nature that Lee Child’s Jack Reacher is. (Truthfully, I’m pretty sure *I* could take Tom Cruise.)

Seriously, how important would it be to you that Hollywood gets it right? That they understand your book and your characters, and cast the best actors for the roles, rather than the latest heartthrobs. Do you want to risk your precious story ending up like Interview With the Vampire? A movie that makes me double over in laughter every time I see Brad Pitt and (oops, here he is again) Tom Cruise in the starring roles. I guarantee you Anne Rice’s novel did NOT make me laugh. It’s a shame the movie does.

Of course, the book is almost always better. We all know that. But now and then, there are a few book-to-movie transitions that work well. Shouldn’t yours be one of them? I know it’s easy to say this, in the abstract, but I think if I still had a roof over my head and food on my table, I’d pass on turning over my creation to those who don’t cherish it the way I do.

What do you think you’d do? Take the money and run? Or stand firm, and demand some creative control, even if it meant the deal wouldn’t go through? Inquiring minds wanna know. 🙂

 

 

20 thoughts on “#MidWeekPOV – Rrrrring! Hollywood Calling!

  1. Thai made me smile Marcia – I sometimes wonder who I would choose to play my characters in a Hollywood epic version. (I’ve chosen Welsh actor Michael Sheen to play Owen Tudor, as he was great in the recent adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’.)

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    • Glad it made you smile, Tony. I think you’ve made a great choice, though I haven’t (YET) read your book. However…the bigger question is…would you trust Hollywood to go with it? Or do you think Tom Cruise would make a great Owen Tudor? (THEY might, you know.) 😀 😀 😀

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  2. It is strange, but once my story is done. I can leave it. If Hollywood came knocking I think I would take the money and run! LOL I think it is because what I have written so far has not been in a series and so my characters have been sketchy, in even in my mind. I honestly don’t do much outward appearance stuff for my characters because I feel the reader has the prerogative to imagine that. But that is just the way I write – more the inward character rather than the outer appearance. Does that make sense to anyone but me?(!)

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    • Yes, it makes sense, Marie, though I prefer to know what people look like, even if the facial features are my own imagination. Tall, short? Dark, fair? Those kinds of things. But naturally, I want to know who the person is in his heart of hearts, as well.

      In all seriousness, getting the casting wrong goes way beyond picking someone who’s not physically right, I think. Sometimes it’s the persona of the actor that throws it out of whack, too. And there are other things I hate about the way Hollywood guts a tale, and leaves only the vaguest impression of what it was all about. I don’t want them missing the whole point of my story, either. If they get THAT wrong, then no one who sees the movie will ever understand the book, and probably would never read it. So, I know I would think long and hard about creative control, myself. But that’s just me.

      There are no right or wrong answers, here. I’m just curious as to how other writers would feel. Nice to see ;you responding today. It’s been pretty quiet while I was away. 😀

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  3. Interesting scenario. I’m in the camp of ‘take the money and run’. As far as I can tell, the only authors who ever successfully retained some sort of control over their creations have been the mega-wealthy, like J.K. Rowling. In all other cases, it seems to result either in the film not being made, or the author losing control anyway, somewhere down the line.
    Even if it weren’t a true representation of my book, I would be fascinated to see what they’d do with it.
    Provided they don’t use Tom Cruise, of course…

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    • Hi, Deb! Yes, I know retaining control is very, very unlikely, which is why I mentioned that fighting for (or even daring to ask for) it would probably cost you the deal. But I don’t think I care much. I hate the way books are manipulated by Hollywood, and characters become unrecognizable, so I’m guessing Little Rabbit will remain safely within the pages of my book, even if Hollywood did ring me up. 😀

      You are surely far smarter than I. But if you land a billion dollar deal, don’t go calling me up saying Neener, Neener. I swear I’ll hang up on ya!! 😀 😀 😀 Okay, so I’m kidding. I’ll congratulate you. (And then become your new best friend. 😉 )

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      • LOL 😀
        I’ve come to realise that films scripts are very formulaic in their contrition, and when they take a book as a basis, probably only the kernel of the idea will ever survive.
        Unless your name is JKRowling…

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        • I suspect you are right. So you can pretty much know what to expect from any deal you cut with film makers, and you better be okay with it. (That’s the “editorial you,” and not a direct order. 😀 )

          As for J.K. Rowling, I have to say that is one of the few times when I’ve been thoroughly satisfied with the way Hollywood handled both the script AND the casting. The movies captivated me just as thoroughly as the stories did, right from the first notes of that haunting theme. *sigh* And I have to say that I cried when I heard about Alan Rickman’s death, though not just because his Snape was so wonderful. I’ve been a fan of his for years and years, since I saw him in a wonderful film called Truly, Madly, Deeply. I’d watch anything he did, for that unbelievable voice alone. He was simply a treasure. I almost never watch movies any more, but if anyone could get me to make an exception, it would have been him.

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          • I so agree with you, Alan Rickman was a fabulous, truly individual actor.
            I cried over David Bowie’s death, so soon after – he was my teenage hero, as Ziggy Stardust, and I was one of those who copied the hair and makeup – wish I had some pictures!

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  4. Interesting question Marcia. I’ve read all too often how writers have cringed at what became of their original work, yet allowed it. I don’t believe we’d get any say in casting either. I would never take the money and run without going through a list of questions and hiring a lawyer before signing anything. 🙂

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    • You can hold out for a certain amount of creative control, Deb, but only authors with an awful lot of clout would be likely to actually get it. The rest of us would have to knuckle under, or say no to the deal. Goodbye having Chris Hemsworth cast as Gunnar Wolfe when they film Swamp Ghosts! Ha!! Of course, if you DID want to take their deal, with or without control, I would certainly hope you’d have a great lawyer on your side. I know I would. Thanks for weighing in. It’s interesting to see how other writers feel about this.

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  5. You had me at: “I’m pretty sure *I* could take Tom Cruise”

    I think I could take him too.

    At this point in life, I’d hope to have a say in the production, but if it came down to getting the deal or not, I’d take the deal. The spin-offs would be worth it in the long run. I’d sell more books because my name would be out there. And who knows, I might sell another movie deal, and then I’d have more say.

    I wouldn’t want Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt in my book to movies. I have always wanted to write a movie perfect for Harrison Ford to be the main character. It’s not written yet. lol

    Honestly, I don’t follow Hollywood enough to know which actor would fit best into the rolls of my fantasy novel. Even after I watch a movie, I don’t know the actors’ names. I’m just not interested. Is it sad to say I don’t care who they are off set; I invest only in their characters. The only reason I know many of the Avenger’s names is because my kids spout them off like they are their friends.

    Will I ever be called to make my book into a movie? Probably not. But as you said, it’s nice to dream about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good Morning, Diane! Nice to see you today. Yes, it’s an interesting dream, isn’t it? Full of possibilities. You do bring up some very valid points about name recognition and spin-offs. That would be sorely tempting.

      I don’t watch movies any more, either. I’m very tired of Hollywood actors who spend more time trying to tell the world they know more than the rest of us. Regardless of what it is they are espousing, my feelings are I’d rather know less about their private lives, and be able to focus on their acting skills. Assuming there were any appealing movies coming out of Tinsel Town these days. I’m not even tempted by most of the trailers I see.

      However, here’s my sense of it when it comes to my books. I’m a newbie writer. My books aren’t even close to perfect. But they tell the stories I want to tell, and are peopled with characters I’ve grown to care about. If I sat in a theater and watched a film where my story lost its central thrust, focused on overdone sex scenes and gratuitous violence, missing the whole point of the tale, and I couldn’t even recognize the people I created, I’d cry. I’d just sit there in the dark and cry in bitter disappointment. I HATE things that make me cry for bad reasons (as opposed to crying because I’m deeply moved by something.) So I’d leave the theater feeling sick and unhappy, and I’d rather avoid that, even if it means writing in obscurity forever.

      Of course, when Hollywood DOES call, waving huge sums of money in my general direction, I feel quite sure my husband will snatch the phone out of my hand and scream “She’ll take it!” He doesn’t care if I cry. He’s used to it. He says I cry at K-Mart openings.

      😀

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      • It is a very entertain thought.

        Fear of what Hollywood would do to my novels isn’t the only fear. Because I write fantasy, my biggest fear–if I went the traditional route–would be the publisher putting a half-naked woman with big boobs on the cover. I would cringe with hate. That would be worse than what Hollywood would do because the books are mine, my story. The movie–it would be someone else’s vision. I can separate the two.

        Chris Hemsworth as the lead, eh? My daughter would love it! I’m more of a Chris Evans type. But he’s not short enough to play a dwarf.

        It is good to dream of such things on this cold, winter’s day.

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        • It’s even chilly down here in central Florida today, but I like that much better than heat, so I’m having a pretty good day, myself.

          Yes, that cover control is mandatory! OMG, the thought of anyone doing my covers other than my good friend and graphic designer, Nicki Forde, makes me cringe. Even worse than the woman with excessive bosom exposure is the headless male torso with those fake, plastic looking Ninja turtle abs! I know those covers sell books (currently, though that too, shall pass), but I swear, I’d put a plain brown wrapper on my book first. I’m SO over them. Heck, I’d even rather go back to the days of Fabio, bent over a swooning maiden, with his long, bleached tresses blowing in the wind. Almost anything would be better to my mind, and I probably miss out on some good stories because my eyes just slide right on over those covers, without pause.

          Now, please don’t anyone take offense. I fully understand the reasons for this trend in cover design, and I’m quite sure it works on lots of buyers. I’d probably be smarter to go with something similar, myself, but no one around here has ever accused me of being a marketing genius, believe me. This is just my personal preference, and an honest assessment of how those covers DON’T work as intended for this buyer. 🙂

          Chris Hemsworth would be perfect, since that’s who I used as my inspiration for this particular character. Even the lead female, upon meeting him, decided he looked just like Thor, and that she hated him on sight for daring to be so good-looking. She even taunts him from time to time, calling him “Thor,” much to his displeasure. So, if I can’t have Chris in the part of Gunnar Wolfe, then I’m just not doin’ it!! That’s my story, an’ I’m stickin’ to it! 😀

          Back to chilly day dreams. 😉

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  6. Hi Marcia– I’m new to your blog, but what a great question to start with. As you know, I write for preteens. My latest book is a novel about a pairs skating team called (what else?) PAIRS ON ICE. If I were offered a film or TV deal, I think that, once I got up off the floor after fainting, I’d be pretty amenable to whatever they wanted to do––except change my story. My characters are pretty normal kids with kid-sized problems (getting along with each other and their families–Jamie is dealing with a new stepmother) and I wouldn’t want a film to have them using drugs or being abused by their coach. However, if they wanted to make Jamie a blonde or cast Tom Cruise as Jamie and Matt’s coach, I’d say, “Go right ahead,” even though he looks totally different from the Cam in my head!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Liz! Glad to see you made it here! Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on this question. It’s been fun, seeing what everyone thinks.

      You have a nicely balanced feeling about this issue, I see. And it makes perfect sense. (Even casting Tom Cruise as the skating coach, instead of as one of the teenaged stars, which is probably what he’d demand, hahaha.) And you are definitely in the majority, here, so far, in that you’d accept the deal, even with changes. But asking Hollywood not to add more drama (in the form of drug abuse, or other distasteful situations) is probably unrealistic. I’ll bet they’d toss in every currently hot topic they could dream up, regardless of whether it fit with your story line or not. But then . . . maybe I’m being too cynical. Wait. We’re talking Hollywood here. Never-miiiiiiiiind. 😀

      Here’s hoping we ALL get a chance to find out what we’d REALLY do, when Hollywood comes calling. Good luck! And thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoy browsing around on The Write Stuff. And Welcome!

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