Interview for research project

jasperjoy

New member
Hello, I'm currently studying in high school and am looking to produce a research project based around 'How to compare a movie adaption to the book'. A focus question of my studies is "what elements of literature do not translate well into film" and im looking for film makers and students to interview about this. The interview questions look like;

-How long have you been involved in film making?
-Do you have any experience in movie adaptions of books?
-What role are you (e.g. director, script writer, editor)
In your experience, what technical constraints of film making do you face when producing a story?
How is producing a story as a film maker different to producing a story as an author?
What elements of a narrative or piece of literature aren't possible to translate into film?
What elements of a narrative or piece of literature can be translated into film effectively?
What technical differences between film and literature would get in the way of producing a movie adaption that's 100% true to the book?

If you'd be interested in helping me out and doing an interview please message me or respond to this thread. All insight is appreciated and will help me out greatly :)
You can contact me at jasper.jp@hotmail.com
 
Last edited:

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Staff member
Hi jasperjoy, I don't know of any 100% true to the book movies and I personally don't think that is possible. Consider that each person has their own interpretation of a book and so one representation may not match others with different experiences and levels of insight. What high school do you attend?
 
Last edited:

jasperjoy

New member
Hi jasperjoy, I don't know of any 100% true to the book movies and I personally don't think that is possible. Consider that each person has their own interpretation of a book and so one representation may not match others with different experiences and levels of insight. What high school do you attend?
Hello, thanks for your response :)
I attend Seaview High School in Adelaide, Australia
I also personally don't believe a movie can or should be 100% true to the book. I'm interested in hearing why you think this is though :)
 

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Staff member
I am probably not the best person to answer your questions. I have been known to have different thinking from the norms and I have not made a movie from a book. Here goes anyway.

"How long have you been involved in film making?"

Sometime during 1990, I worked on the JFK directed by Oliver Stone production as a set carpenter while they were shooting in Dallas. I think that this job took me on a path that brought me to where I am now. It was then that I fell in love with the creative collaboration and teamwork of making movies. I helped to antique and build sets. I can't express to you how much I enjoyed the work. I purely stumbled on the job or if there was guidance it was either from some subconsciousness or that of the divine intervention of which I could definitely see it being of the later. I worked with some of the most hardworking talented people I have ever known. They inspired me not just during that production but for life.

I have not had much formal training but I have had some. I went back to school and after taking an entrance exam landed in honors classes at a Dallas community college where I took honors writing class called "writing for the movies." After several hops skips and jumps, in April of the year 2000, I took a job working for a publishing company in NYC that published magazines in the entertainment industry. At some point, I had a meeting with the Publisher of the American Cinematographer in Hollywood at the ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) clubhouse. They became my client in 2002 through 2014 and we still work together in many ways.

I launched the StudentFilmmakers Magazine website in 2004 and started publishing the magazine in 2006. I have produced, co-produced and hosted in New York and LA many workshops with award-winning editors, directors, producers, and cinematographers over the last 20 years. It's how I financed my own personal film school and I enjoy learning from people with experience who know what they are doing. My favorite classes so far were our lighting workshops with Peter Stein ASC and Andrew Laszlo ASC. Both of them were not only very knowledgeable but were good at conveying what is important in a nontechnical way. Peter Stein, ASC said, that you could do something that was off the mainstream as long as you did it consistently throughout the movie. "You want your movie to flow like a river." Ok, I have digressed enough, back to questions.

"Do you have any experience in movie adaptions of books?"

I do not have experience in movie adaptions of books. I did, however, read one or two books at least that I still think would make great movies that I wanted to do and was thinking about it seriously enough to take action. I contacted the right people about gaining the rights to the book. I decided that for the first feature film I want to produce, it was going to cost much more than I could raise on a first project and mostly because of the locations in the story. Even if we built the sets in a studio or used available sets, it was going to be extremely costly with scenes on the streets of New York City and scenes in schools in Moscow and the Russian countryside and villages. As you probably know, people don't want to give you big money for your first major projects. You have to prove yourself. You can read the book to see all the set changes, setups, and locations we would need to make it.
"The Painted Bird" by Jerzy Kosiński or "Steps" by Jerzy Kosinski.

"What role are you (e.g. director, scriptwriter, editor)"

My role in filmmaking is a publisher, writer, community creator, and support at this point. If I get a shot at making a movie, it will be either producing, directing, writing or all three. However, these days most of my time and energy is directed towards my magazine, websites the people I work with and my customers.

"What elements of a narrative or piece of literature aren't possible to translate into film?"

I don't believe there is anything that can't translate into a film other than the subjective experience of reading a book.

"What elements of a narrative or piece of literature can be translated into film effectively?"

I don't know why I don't like this question. It's more of a statement than a question to me. It's saying that only certain elements of narrative literature can be translated effectively. And, implies you need to know which elements can be translated because the other elements can't be translated effectively. I don't believe there is anything you can't express in motion picture and probably better than you can in the written word because you have more to work with so whatever you or your professor believe can't be effectively conveyed I don't agree.

As far as a good story goes, Peter Stein, ASC said that starting with a great story is best, but talented actors, directors, and cinematographers could sometimes take one that was ok and make it great.

"What technical differences between film and literature would get in the way of producing a movie adaption that's 100% true to the book?"

I am sure there are technical issues with conveying the same messages with motion pictures as you do with words but its that 100% things there that gets my attention. This question reminds me of when a teacher set up a box in the classroom and has students walk around and look at it and then take their seats and write about what they saw. None of what they write is the same even though they all saw exactly the same thing. They all see it differently and express what they saw differently. I think it's the same with reading, interpreting and adapting a book to motion picture

Movie making is more like an artistic painting than mathematics and engineering and percentages even though they may have some part. You have brushes to choose from and paints. You can and probably should break it down to the very molecules in the pigments and how they are made as well as which brushes do what and why but the essence of the movie-making is making those brushstrokes work together in a combination to achieve the vision of how you want to tell the story. Saying it's true to a book is purely an opinion of a reader or critic based on their criteria and that measure is subjective.
Would you say Monet's Water Lilies are not 100% true to the lilies or Van Gogh's starry night is not 100% true to the sky? They saw it through their lens and so will any reader of a book. It will never match your interpretation perfectly. So, no 100%. Forget it. And, perfectionism is the enemy of excellence.

I think some book vs. motion pictures differences are the large numbers of words you can use to paint your pictures in a book. You can develop characters over many pages or chapters and intricate plots over long periods of time wherein a motion picture feature you have a couple of hours.

A screenplay is about 120 pages give or take and a book like, for example, James Michener’s Centennial is 909 pages. A book like that covers generations and things are dug up from the first generation and the complexity of it all would take multiple movies. However, that does happen and it can be done. And, with consumer controlled streaming, we can now consume the episodes in a series in a week.

We could tell those stories in not necessarily longer movies but longer episodes that we could create more frequent installments of maybe quarterly instead of yearly? It makes me think about Andrew Laszlo ASC and the Movie Shogun. At any rate, longer stories and longer books can be done. Where there is a will there is a way or maybe it's supply and demand.
 
Last edited:

jasperjoy

New member
I am probably not the best person to answer your questions. I have been known to have different thinking from the norms and I have not made a movie from a book. Here goes anyway.

"How long have you been involved in film making?"

Sometime during 1990, I worked on the JFK directed by Oliver Stone production as a set carpenter while they were shooting in Dallas. I think that this job took me on a path that brought me to where I am now. It was then that I fell in love with the creative collaboration and teamwork of making movies. I helped to antique and build sets. I can't express to you how much I enjoyed the work. I purely stumbled on the job or if there was guidance it was either from some subconsciousness or that of the divine intervention of which I could definitely see it being of the later. I worked with some of the most hardworking talented people I have ever known. They inspired me not just during that production but for life.

I have not had much formal training but I have had some. I went back to school and after taking an entrance exam landed in honors classes at a Dallas community college where I took honors writing class called "writing for the movies." After several hops skips and jumps, in April of the year 2000, I took a job working for a publishing company in NYC that published magazines in the entertainment industry. At some point, I had a meeting with the Publisher of the American Cinematographer in Hollywood at the ASC (American Society of Cinematographers) clubhouse. They became my client in 2002 through 2014 and we still work together in many ways.

I launched the StudentFilmmakers Magazine website in 2004 and started publishing the magazine in 2006. I have produced, co-produced and hosted in New York and LA many workshops with award-winning editors, directors, producers, and cinematographers over the last 20 years. It's how I financed my own personal film school and I enjoy learning from people with experience who know what they are doing. My favorite classes so far were our lighting workshops with Peter Stein ASC and Andrew Laszlo ASC. Both of them were not only very knowledgeable but were good at conveying what is important in a nontechnical way. Peter Stein, ASC said, that you could do something that was off the mainstream as long as you did it consistently throughout the movie. "You want your movie to flow like a river." Ok, I have digressed enough, back to questions.

"Do you have any experience in movie adaptions of books?"

I do not have experience in movie adaptions of books. I did, however, read one or two books at least that I still think would make great movies that I wanted to do and was thinking about it seriously enough to take action. I contacted the right people about gaining the rights to the book. I decided that for the first feature film I want to produce, it was going to cost much more than I could raise on a first project and mostly because of the locations in the story. Even if we built the sets in a studio or used available sets, it was going to be extremely costly with scenes on the streets of New York City and scenes in schools in Moscow and the Russian countryside and villages. As you probably know, people don't want to give you big money for your first major projects. You have to prove yourself. You can read the book to see all the set changes, setups, and locations we would need to make it.
"The Painted Bird" by Jerzy Kosiński or "Steps" by Jerzy Kosinski.

"What role are you (e.g. director, scriptwriter, editor)"

My role in filmmaking is a publisher, writer, community creator, and support at this point. If I get a shot at making a movie, it will be either producing, directing, writing or all three. However, these days most of my time and energy is directed towards my magazine, websites the people I work with and my customers.

"What elements of a narrative or piece of literature aren't possible to translate into film?"

I don't believe there is anything that can't translate into a film other than the subjective experience of reading a book.

"What elements of a narrative or piece of literature can be translated into film effectively?"

I don't know why I don't like this question. It's more of a statement than a question to me. It's saying that only certain elements of narrative literature can be translated effectively. And, implies you need to know which elements can be translated because the other elements can't be translated effectively. I don't believe there is anything you can't express in motion picture and probably better than you can in the written word because you have more to work with so whatever you or your professor believe can't be effectively conveyed I don't agree.

As far as a good story goes, Peter Stein, ASC said that starting with a great story is best, but talented actors, directors, and cinematographers could sometimes take one that was ok and make it great.

"What technical differences between film and literature would get in the way of producing a movie adaption that's 100% true to the book?"

I am sure there are technical issues with conveying the same messages with motion pictures as you do with words but its that 100% things there that gets my attention. This question reminds me of when a teacher set up a box in the classroom and has students walk around and look at it and then take their seats and write about what they saw. None of what they write is the same even though they all saw exactly the same thing. They all see it differently and express what they saw differently. I think it's the same with reading, interpreting and adapting a book to motion picture

Movie making is more like an artistic painting than mathematics and engineering and percentages even though they may have some part. You have brushes to choose from and paints. You can and probably should break it down to the very molecules in the pigments and how they are made as well as which brushes do what and why but the essence of the movie-making is making those brushstrokes work together in a combination to achieve the vision of how you want to tell the story. Saying it's true to a book is purely an opinion of a reader or critic based on their criteria and that measure is subjective.
Would you say Monet's Water Lilies are not 100% true to the lilies or Van Gogh's starry night is not 100% true to the sky? They saw it through their lens and so will any reader of a book. It will never match your interpretation perfectly. So, no 100%. Forget it. And, perfectionism is the enemy of excellence.

I think some book vs. motion pictures differences are the large numbers of words you can use to paint your pictures in a book. You can develop characters over many pages or chapters and intricate plots over long periods of time wherein a motion picture feature you have a couple of hours.

A screenplay is about 120 pages give or take and a book like, for example, James Michener’s Centennial is 909 pages. A book like that covers generations and things are dug up from the first generation and the complexity of it all would take multiple movies. However, that does happen and it can be done. And, with consumer controlled streaming, we can now consume the episodes in a series in a week.

We could tell those stories in not necessarily longer movies but longer episodes that we could create more frequent installments of maybe quarterly instead of yearly? It makes me think about Andrew Laszlo ASC and the Movie Shogun. At any rate, longer stories and longer books can be done. Where there is a will there is a way or maybe it's supply and demand.

Firstly, I really appreciate this insight. You've made some excellent points I hadn't even considered.
I would just like to follow up with a final question, keeping in mind your responses to the previous questions, "how should an audience compare a film adaption to the book"

Also I'd just like to double check if I have your permission to quote you within my research topic and cite you as a source.
 

Kim Welch

Senior Member
Staff member
As I have said, I am probably not the best person to answer your questions if you're looking for someone that has technical experience making movies from books. Also, I think outside of the petri dish. I really can't tell anyone how they "should" do anything. I have read a lot of books, and I have watched a lot of movies, but I don't watch a movie or read a book because I should or so that I can compare the movie with the book or the book with the movie. I read because it opens my mind, and I share experiences with others and because I like it and basically movies are the same.

I think that any classroom discussion about a book to film adaptations without a study of the adaptation of "Being There" by Jerzy Kosinski is missing at least some of the crux.

The book "Being There" is a book by Jerzy Kosinski that I read and enjoyed immensely. I think I have read everything Kosinski wrote that is published. He has an existentialistic outlook and social wit that I enjoy. I read it while I was in high school and before I saw the movie.

In the book, Chance is the name of the main character. It's political satire with social and economic portraits. You will enjoy it and I recommend it. In the first few pages, we find out that Chance watches a lot of TV and has never been out in the real world. He has lived his whole life behind huge walls in a mansion, working as the gardener for a wealthy man. The old man dies, and Chance has to leave the house and go into the real world. Like your idea that there is an accurately rightly done adaptation of a book to a movie. Chance is comparing the real world with the TV shows and characters he watches. And the likenesses as you might compare a movie to a book.

The interlacing from the TV world and the real world starts on page 3 but this quote from page 4 is more about our subject matter in the second and third paragraph and the book is peppered with these throughout where the TV word he watches overlaps and how it fits his real word experiences, we can read,

"The figure on the TV screen looked like his own reflection in a mirror.
Though Chance could not read or write, he resembled the man on TV more
than he differed from him. For example, their voices were alike.
He sank into the screen. Like sunlight and fresh air and mild rain, the
world from outside the garden entered Chance, and Chance, like a TV
image, floated into the world, buoyed up by a force he did not see and could not name."

Throughout the book, Chance uses what he has seen on TV to guide him in the real world. The Characters in the movie and in the book adaptation of the TV he has watched to the real world works exceptionally well. To understand this, you need to read the book. I don't want to spoil the book or the movie for you, so I will stop.

The movie "Being There"

Douglas won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and Sellers was nominated for Best Actor. The screenplay won the British Academy Film Award for Best Screenplay and the Writers Guild of America Award for Best Comedy Adapted from Another Medium. It was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay. In 2015, the United States Library of Congress selected Being There for preservation in the National Film Registry, finding it "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant"

The book and the movie are not the same things. It's not because it was technically impossible to reproduce the depth of the emotional content in some areas or make it more in others. Those were artistic choices. The book is a successful book, and the movie is a successful motion picture adaptation of the book. I enjoyed both very much and I got a lot out of them. I don't think you should but you might find them interesting, educational and insightful if you read the book and watch the movie. I will leave you with a quote from the movie and the book.

"I like to watch TV."
Chance

I will edit this later. Also, if you use any of my ideas or quotes I would appreciate a link to our site and a statement of an open invitation for filmmakers to join and comment.
 
Last edited:

jodymichelle

Senior Member
Staff member
Hello, jasperjoy, welcome to the forums.

After reading your post, I did a quick search into our article archives and what pulled up was an article called, "Playwright/Filmmaker/Firefighter David Paterson: From Love, Ludlow to Bridge to Terabithia," written by Glen Tickle. This was published years ago in our print/digital publication, StudentFilmmakers Magazine.

The article mentions how the filmmaker, David Paterson, adapted the book, "Bridge to Terabithia." Glen Tickle wrote, "David Paterson was not tapped at random to turn this beloved book into a film. His mother, Katherine Paterson, is the book’s author." Check out the article!

>> Playwright/Filmmaker/Firefighter David Paterson: From Love, Ludlow to Bridge to Terabithia by Glen Tickle



-
 
Top