Listen to tips from a screenwriter for TV and movies Jeremy Brock. The co-creator of BBC’s Casualty, writer of Last King of Scotland, Mrs Brown and Brideshead Revisited) appeared on BBC World Service Radio to talk about screen adaptations.
Brock discussed adapting novels and fact-based projects for film.
On adapting the novel
- Don’t keep the dialogue – most of it won’t work on screen, it’s too long, too dense.
- Respect the spirit of the work – but don’t try to reproduce it on screen. Don’t be too literal or literary
- Be bold in the process of contraction to fit the novel into the screen-time
- Find an equivalent voice – the novel has the interior life and voice of it’s characters. You may try to reproduce this in voice-over, but it’s not a skillful movie technique and has limited use.
- Short stories often provide more ‘room’ to adapt to the screen, it certainly sounds like the writer gets more creative fun filling-in a full script
On adapting ‘true stories’
- Reality is sequential, the screenplay is consequential. Merely putting a sequence of events on screen will fail; we need to see the motivation and consequences of those events.
Brcock’s Brideshead Revisited is a 2008 British drama film directed by Julian Jarrold. The screenplay by Jeremy Brock and Andrew Davies adapts the 1945 novel of the same name by Evelyn Waugh, previously adapted in 1981 as the television serial Brideshead Revisited.