Does it work?
Updated: Dec 14, 2020
My next novel, which will come out later this year, is Peg’s Story: In Search of Self. It’s the story of the mother in my first novel, Running Away. After that book came out, I wrote and sold the screenplay – the selling part took a few years. You may have seen the movie Running Away on Lifetime, and it’s been pirated to YouTube as well.
If you’ve read the book and watched the movie, you know that the movie did a great job with the suspense line but the backstory for the characters is different. That also means the dynamics between characters and the focus of the story changed.
The cover of the book and poster of the movie show the difference:
The novel is about the relationship between mother and daughter and how a subtle predator manipulates both of them to the point where Maggie (the daughter) ends up running away. The emphasis is on the mother-daughter bond – that’s why the hands are reaching for each other on the novel’s cover. My original script stuck with that emphasis, as did the re-writes I did to make it more affordable to shoot.
I’m still the only screenwriter on the credits, however the director added short scenes, including some up front to establish the stepfather as a bad guy quickly. The filmmakers explained that was essential to hold the audience. With several short scenes, the director also added a story line making the stepfather evil beyond what he does to Maggie. As in the movie poster, he becomes the focal point.
Film is a collaborative medium and the final measure is always: Does it work?
Whenever someone tells me they’ve seen the movie, their comments center on the creepy stepfather – no one talks about the girl or her mother. My central theme didn’t survive, but the film does grab people and hold their attention.
I sold the script to a production company with a track record for producing and marketing films to television and computer movie markets. They sold the film successfully to French-speaking European television and then Lifetime. They knew their market.
So yeah, the film works. I got paid, got my credits at the beginning and end, and it’s added to my IMDb page. I’m happy.
Next week I’ll take a closer look at the film and how it compares to my screenplay.
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