Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Giving it all away... by Cathy Ace

BUSINESS: If a major producer/production company wanted to option or buy your book…but wanted to change it in major ways, as often happens in Hollywood, would you still sell it? Explain your reasons and your limitations. But remember, once you sell something to Hollywood, except in extremely rare instances, you lose control over the film property.

This is an interesting question, and one I believe I would have answered differently a few months ago. This is a topic which has led me to many hours of pondering recently, and I have sought counsel from several authors I know who have already been through the process of having their work produced for the screen, be it of the large or small variety.

With author Ann Cleeves and Brenda Blethyn, who brings Vera Stanhope to life on-screen, at Malice Domestic 2018

What I have discovered is that the right response to having work “taken over” is different for different people, and that a certain amount of soul-searching is required to come up with the right answer for oneself. Do you want to focus on writing books, and let the production pros get on with their version of your books and characters? Was your deepest desire always to become a screen writer so you’ll grab the chance to be 100% on-board and take your novel as just the starting point for an on-screen adventure that you oversee completely? Or are you somewhere in between those two extremes? 

With James Runcie, at CrimeFest UK 2016

Linwood Barclay recently wrote the screenplay for the movie based on his book “Never Saw It Coming”, whereas Peter Robinson was absolutely hands-off the British TV productions of his DCI Banks novels. Ann Cleeves has an excellent, informal relationship with the company bringing Vera to our screens, while Maureen Jennings writes one script per season for the Murdoch Mysteries. James Runcie is an Executive Producer (but chooses to be informed of decisions, rather than giving input to them) for the Grantchester series, whereas MC Beaton is a script editor, often on-set, for the Agatha Raisin series. 

With Maureen Jennings, Bloody Words 2014

I’m thinking that, for me, it would be best to stand back and let the pros get on with what they want to do, but to keep the relationship with the production company lively and interactive. Ultimately, I see myself as a storyteller, not a film maker, so I can continue to tell my stories, while film makers interpret them for the screen. All that being said...any of these scenarios is still a dream for me, so you know...take it all with a handful of salt.

I'd be honoured if you'd consider reading my work - you can find out about it, and me, here: 


Dietrich Kalteis said...

You're right, Cathy. It would probably be best to stand back and let the pros get on with what they do, no matter how hard standing back might be.

Cathy Ace said...

Given the chance, yes ��

Susan C Shea said...

I guess you can always refuse to watch a stinky production of your great novels and do as Lee Child did, and laugh (or in his case, chuckle quietly) all the way to the bank.

Paul D. Marks said...

It's a tough choice. And I think you're right about it needing a certain amount of soul searching. There's pluses and maybe minuses to one's work being adapted for the screen...

Cathy Ace said...

He did but now he's backing a new TV treatment ��

Cathy Ace said...

You're right Paul