A book about writing or adapting for the screen that doesn’t seem to fit its title.
The target readership for this Hollywood how-to guide would seem to be readers who already have a script in hand (or at least a very strong idea) and a chance of beating the astronomical odds for a newcomer to see her vision realized on the screen. “[T]his book will lay down the ground rules,” writes Marlow (Nano, 2004), “explaining what Hollywood looks for in source material and in screenplays, what’s involved in creating a good—or great—adaptation, and how to find help, or strike out on your own.” In the process, the author offers standard screenwriting advice such as “classically structured films have three major acts and seven plot points.” Yet there are many books already available for the aspiring screenwriter, and this book aims to distinguish itself by shifting the focus to adaptation, thus introducing a whole set of complications and challenges that the novice will be ill-equipped to handle. Unless the writer is adapting her own source material, there are all sorts of negotiations over rights and credits, along with advice that won’t be of much help to an outsider. Yes, you’ll improve your chances by packaging your adaptation with a proven director and a bankable star, but what are the odds of that? Yes, having well-connected representation might help, but, the author suggests, “Hollywood ‘reps’ (meaning agents and managers) are notoriously hard to land. In fact, if getting a book agent is the equivalent of scaling Mount Everest, then finding a good manager is something akin to, say, a journey to the moon—and landing an agent more like a mission to Mars.” Good luck with that.
Despite interesting insights from Paul Haggis, Walter Kirn, Rex Pickett, Vikas Swarup and others, this disjointed, often-repetitive book fails to find its purpose or focus.