Three Scripts, One Hook
I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to inflate my perception of myself is to adapt my projects into other mediums. Taking an old movie script and turning it into a tv show makes it feel like I’m adding onto a past success, despite the movie never being made and likely being terrible. It falls into the category of “whatever you gotta tell yourself,” but who cares?
Right now I’m in triple adaptation mode. I’m in the process of turning my fiction podcast into a web series, while simultaneously writing a pilot script for a conventional television show based on the same podcast. It’s an idea I’m extremely passionate about, so I figured that a three-pronged approach would help its chances of seeing the light of day, one way or another.
It poses a very interesting challenge: what changes, and what stays? Obviously each script has to organically fit its medium, but some aspects will remain constant across all three projects. The tricky part is deciding what those are.
I took a film adaptation class last year, which is proving to be more useful than I ever imagined. We spent a semester studying dozens of plays that were adapted into films, and the occasional film adapted into a play. The patterns that emerged from the successful ones provided a template for this kind of work.
At the end, my professor condensed the course into a single sentence. The art of adaptation is, in his words, “finding the essence of a work, then building a different work around that essence.” You want to cut to the very core of a project, find exactly what the artist was trying to say, and ignore everything else. Every art form has its nuances, so you don’t want to be weighed down with anything inessential.
Now I’m trying to find the essence of my own scripts. I can’t tell if it’s easier or harder to do these exercises with your own artistic work. It’s tough, but it comes with unexpected benefits. I’ve found that the process of adaptation actually makes each individual script better. By forcing myself to zero in on what I really want to say, I find myself revising the original scripts to make them more focused. Trying to write a web series also makes the tv pilot better, and vice versa.
It’s a constant balancing act, trying to preserve what works without saying the same thing three times in a row. But if nothing else, this confirms my belief that this idea is worth pursuing. It’s always tempting to quit a creative project, especially when new ideas pop into your head every day. But when that impulse hits, focusing on what you wanted to say in the first place can motivate you to see your vision through the slog of execution.