Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Nick Earls: Omnibus edition

Finally got around to posting my Nick Earls features.

Part 1 - Nick Earls: finding life's novel moments

Part 2 - '48 Shades': the Brisbane connection

Then there's an aside on the science behind 'Zigzag St'

There was far more than I had room for in my features, so here's some extra bits and pieces.

Nick Earls on why he initially didn't want to read the 48 Shades script:

"I think my experience of people adapting author's works, personally it's, I've had some good experiences and I've been lucky but it doesn't work out every time and I try to pay attention to what other people have gone through when their work's been adapted, and it often doesn't work out well, and I think that sometimes the best thing you can do is separate yourself as much as you can rather than invest emotion in it.

"And if you sign something up to people you're obliged to give them a crack at it, you're obliged to give them a shot at finding their way through that story in a new medium and I don't want them to be completely constrained by the novel I've written.

"I mean it's a dream result for an author I guess if you turn up and see on screen characters who look and sound and feel like yours and a story that feels very like yours and works, but I guess in the end I'd really happy with something that works, I'd be really happy with a good film and if I connected with any of the elements of it personally I think that'd be a bonus, but if you're going to be practical about it you can't even expect that you'll get a good film, you just have to expect that ... I don't think you should be more optimistic than to hope that the cheque will clear and then beyond that anything might happen.

"So I try generally to spell that out to people early on and I, film-makers, if they've really responded to your novel, they want to make you happy and I've found myself having a number of conversations with film-makers where I've been the one to say to them, 'I don't expect you to make me happy, your job is to make the best film you can within the constraints of your medium and more particularly the restraints placed on you by the people signing the cheques because they won't make things easy for you, because they want hundreds of thousands if not millions of people to see the film so they're expectations are very different to creative expectations', and I think that's one of the big challenges you face.

"So the short answer to that is that I was reluctant to read the script at first and that's partly because there's a natural reticence I think when it comes to other people handling your characters and your story but also because if you read a novel you're reading a finished product, if you read a script you're reading a recipe for the finished product. It's not the same. So many factors, and it was going to be a first draft, and I thought, it's better to step aside and let them have a go at it but rob the producer didn't let me, he made me read it."

On script development:

"I'm interested in film now in a way that I haven't been before because I've started to learn some things about the medium and I think that's really good, but really there's far too many steps between that level of interest and a finished feature film and there's a lot of things to stop it along the way.

"People say all the time that Australian films suffer from not going through enough script rewrites and I think sometimes they suffer from going through too many stupid rewrites and too many people get involved and feel that in getting involved they're not doing their job unless they have input, with input being advice to change something, and sometimes things don't need to be changed and you can get into this rewrite cycle where you just get stuck rewriting and rewriting and rewriting and losing the heart of the thing that you started with."

On the challenge of turning Zigzag St into a film:
"Zigzag Street is in development as a film, and there's a really good team of people working on that, I haven't looked at the script for quite a lot of years and I'm leaving it totally in their hands and I know that one of the challenges that comes along with a story like Zigzag Street is that the person who looks like the female lead, the Rachel character, appears in chapter 43 out of 55.

"And in a novel you can do that and no-one's going to go, 'You can't do that in a novel' whereas, that's not how film structures work, so that gives them something that they've got to address and I don't know what way they're going to find to deal with that but I know why, when writing the novel, she first appears in chapter 43 of 55 and we don't get any hints before then that she's going to."

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