…Only One for the Show?
[How to Select only ONE of My Titles for the Screen]
By Jeff Salter
If one – and only one – of your stories would be adapted for the silver screen, which ONE would you select? Would you prefer to write the screenplay… or just watch from the sidelines while the studio uses whoever they use for such projects?
Even though this topic was my own suggestion, I’m gonna do what I often do — dance around the issue a bit. At present, I have 20 fiction titles out with three royalty publishers. As some of the Resident Foxes have stated so far this week, each of these stories is my “baby” and each is dear to my heart for different reasons.
Before I discuss those titles, however, let me get a few things out of the way:
* I know I could not write my own screenplay. First of all, they almost certainly would not allow a first timer to do so. Secondly, I doubt I could even write a screenplay, since it’s a completely different sort of “treatment” of a storyline.
* I know it would be painful to see any of my favorite scenes cut or my favorite supporting characters omitted — but I think I could accept that also. After all, I had to cut 55,000 words from one of my novels before I could even submit it. And another of my novels had over 20,000 words cut by the editor! I survived. [Both books are probably better for those deletions, even though that ‘surgery’ was distinctly painful to me at the time.]
* I know I would not have much (if any) creative control over the script, the casting, the direction, or which already-filmed components would later be left on the cutting room floor. It would be difficult to endure, but I could accept that — solely because I know it’s the premium “cost” of getting my story to the screen. And even a movie that’s only “average” in quality (of content and production) will still have a lot of viewers… and that exposure would bring a lot of new readers to my book.
* Even though it’s pleasantly diverting to imagine which actors might play the roles of particular characters of my creation… most of the actors I’m really familiar with are already dead (or at least long past their prime). I don’t see all that many “current” films, and (therefore) don’t know / recognize many of the current crop of Hollywood actors.
My first novel to be published was actually my seventh to complete. While I still love the story of Overnighter’s Secrets – and the real-life detective work which lead to my novel – I’m not sure my “first child” would make the best movie.
A fairly recent title – Random Sacks of Kindness – has a very important theme (assisting the homeless in ways that are actually EFFECTIVE)… but the overall subject matter is a bit depressing and might not make the best film.
Stuck on Cloud Eight would be wonderful to see on film, because the crew would have to build part or all of my specially designed treehouse. And I’d LOVE to see that brought to life. But I’m not certain my hero’s over-the-top “quest” (to win the favor of the heroine) would translate very well to the screen.
One of my forays into sci-fic is Size Matters — in which my heroine accidentally takes an experimental pill and shrinks to the size of her favorite 11-inch “Cyndi” fashion doll. It would be a hoot to see how the production crew handled having a live actor zooming about in a Cyndi car, exploring a Cyndi beach house, and trying on Cyndi-sized clothing. But it would certainly be costly to film.
Either of my two screwball comedies – in the series, Amanda Moore or Less – would be loads of fun to watch on film. Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold would tap in to the frustration many women feel as their significant male struggles to ‘survive’ his symptoms. Scratching the Seven-Month Itch has some scenes that still make me laugh when I re-read them.
My Action thriller, Double Down Trouble, would make a great movie — plenty of bad guys, plus my hero and heroine deciding to make a stand (to protect the elderly citizens caught in the middle). My other action thriller, One Simple Favor, is also fast-paced and adds some humorous elements that audiences should appreciate.
Either of my two cowboy time-travel titles would make good movies. The first, Cowboy Out of Time would likely be better (of the two), since it’s basically the origins of how Hunt Weston was zapped from 1885 and woke up in 1985. There’s plenty of humor, and a developing romance with Rose Roamer, along with some cool action. The sequel, however, would be quite expensive to produce, since it utilizes a lot of period vehicles and clothing and weaponry.
My second published novel – the sixth that I completed (Rescued By That New Guy in Town) – is funny and brisk, but it’s written in first person and everything is therefore seen through the eyes of the heroine. I’m not sure how that kind of story translates to the screen… but I’m guessing it would have to be totally overhauled.
There are a few titles I’ve not yet mentioned… and for no particular reason except that they wouldn’t necessarily be at the top of my list for screen treatment. But that brings me to the final two… you could call these the finalists.
The Ghostess and MISTER Muir is special to me for many reasons. Partly because I penned it so quickly, racing to be the first author to place a story in the newly-created (fictional) town of Magnolia, Alabama. And partly because it’s a loving homage to the wonderful 1947 film, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. With incredible effort, I re-purposed nearly every proper name – and many other images – from that movie. My intent was for other people who also loved that film to see those references and smile, thinking, “Oh, yeah… in the movie, Sproule was the publisher.”
Tied for the top spot – and (probably) edging it out for my selection for screen treatment – is my tribute to the greatest generation, Called To Arms Again. This novel is so special to me in so many ways that it’s nearly impossible to condense them into this limited space. Suffice it to say that my characters honor people like my parents, my uncles and aunts, my teachers at school and church, the leaders of my little town (growing up). And some of these many characters were directly inspired by specific individuals from that group. I think viewers would appreciate the humor, would cheer at the action, and would feel the warmth of the noble patriotism and self-reliance of those senior citizens who were called to arms again, six decades after WW2’s sacrifices.
So I guess that’s my selection: Called To Arms Again. See it soon at a theater near you!
[JLS # 547]