How to Adapt A Story to Film

On episode 293 of Scriptnotes, John and Craig are joined by screenwriter Irene Turner and they discuss three stories in their segment “How Would This Be A Movie?” The three ideas vary in genre and are all true stories.

The first idea is about an article on Canada bound refugees. They discuss one of the refugees who has a great story and has traveled to several places and has been split up with her husband and is trying to get back. Her story alone they agree would be compelling. Another character is trying to escape violence and they say his story could be more action and thriller oriented. The like how the story has the irony that his escape from violence might get him killed and it would be intense to watch him as he attempts the obstacles. They also talk about another story where some refugees don’t escape and they say that the narrative would also need that to make their situation realistic and raises the stakes and build the tension.

The second true story was about Amy Krouse Rosenthal who wrote an article in the New York times that was dying so what she did was write an article to tell woman about how great of guy he is and why they should pursue him. She died ten days later. They say the story would be hard to sell because it is so sentimental and sweet and personal and as a movie it could easily be exploited to make people cry and pull at their heartstrings. They also talk about making this into a film would lose Rosenthal’s voice and personality. They say it would be easy to make this generic and making it unique while capturing the writer’s personality would be the challenge. They all think this would be the most challenging but also thing that this would most likely adapted into a film.

The final story is about Prenda law. It was a scheme that a law firm in Chicago attempted and failed where they went after porn downloaders for copyright infringement. They would file copyright lawsuits and found various IP to downloaders ad threatened downloaders to pay them (upward $4000) or they would face public allegations. The kicker was that they were filming their own pornography and put it out their to make sure people illegally downloaded it. They say that this bizarre story would work best as a dark comedy in the vain of a Coen Brothers movie like Fargo. They also talk about it just being a enjoyable time to watch the walls close in on them as they fail at their dirty scheme. I personally would like this see this wild story turn into a movie.

This segment on Scriptnotes was fun, interesting and enlightening to finding different ways to approach the same story. I think it helps for writing any story whether it’s real or not.



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