Have you figured out my truth yet?
While I do know exactly where the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off House is and I’ve driven by many times, I didn’t live next door or have the opportunity to crash a party there. And the school The Breakfast Club was based on was actually New Trier, our rival high school to the north.
But I did live around the corner from the Cusack family and Joan and John’s sister (who is also an actress) babysat for me on numerous occasions. I don’t remember the baby sitting but I do remember my dad grumbling about how those “damn Cusacks” always threw loud parties…
This week’s lying game and the fact I’m heading out to LA in a few weeks for Left Coast Crime has me thinking a lot about movies. Every author hopes, dreams for their book to be made into a movie. And rightfully so. Having a movie made out of your book is basically a guarantee it’ll be a bestseller. But I also suspect that many novel writers have movie envy, that they wish they were writing or directing the next Oscar winner. Why not, right? Your work would be seen by millions, you’d walk the red carpet, and you’d have a chance to say the words, “I’d like to thank the Academy…”
But as much as I love movies and think it would be incredible to be a part of one someday, I do think novelists have the better gig.
Though it seems there are numerous hoops to jump through to get a novel published, there are three times as many hoops to get a film produced. After the script is finalized, there are actors and directors to hire, locations to edit, scenes to shoot, producers to please and, most importantly, funding to raise. Scripts are purchased every day and that never make it to the screen, movies are in production one day and killed the next. If you’re book is taken on by a publisher, contracts are signed, and edits are made, the likelihood of your project getting killed is very slim.
Additionally, movies are a team effort. So are novels, but in a very different way. Once the script is written, it’s pretty much out of your hands. The directors and producers make changes to the script, actors interpret their roles differently, and the editors cut certain scenes. They don’t consult the screenwriter before doing any of this. In novels, it truly is a team effort. Writers work with their agents and work with their editors to make the book better; they don’t take a backseat while a team of people tears apart their work.
Lastly, novelists have an opportunity to connect with their audience in a way screenwriters and filmmakers don’t. Novelists go on tour, their fans hand them their well-worn novels and ask for a signature. That’s lost on movie fans.
Lou Berney, both an author and a screenwriter, discussed this in a great interview last week if you want to hear it from someone on both sides. Even though I’ve technically been on neither, give me a career as a novelist any day. If they want to make my novel into a film, who am I to argue?