Saturday, December 11, 2010

Getting Historical

We were jubilant when we obtained the rights to GREEN DARKNESS. Since it had been on the NY Times Bestseller List for 6 months, it was sure to have a large fan base. That was back in 1972, a long time ago -- but --  it had also been reprinted more recently.
Once we'd signed on the dotted line, we realized the full horror of what we’d undertaken. GREEN DARKNESS is a period piece. Everyone “in the know” will tell you that period pieces don’t sell, despite the fact that every year period films are nominated for Academy Awards.  In fact, three-quarters of GREEN DARKNESS takes place in the past. The past is what gives it its unique flavor and texture. Fans of the book always remark on how well it evokes the Tudor era and draws you right in. Recreating the past means $$$. Big budgets go hand-in-hand with big name talent.

After some conflab, we decided that our first hurdle would be to minimize the use of the past without compromising the story. Since the “present” of the book is 1968, that’s already the near distant past and costs money to recreate, so we’re modernizing the “present”. We’re going to try to ensure that it carries the flavor of the original. But in 42 years a lot has changed.

Really, the book could even become a mini-series, along the lines of THE TUDORS, since it flashes back to the era immediately after King Henry VIII's death and deals with the turbulent years of his succession. Religious upheaval, death and destruction, witchcraft, stake burnings are all part of this story--what fun!! It's a screenwriter's dream! But a mini-series is not what conventional wisdom recommends for two relative unknown writers. We’ll stick with a feature-length script -- at least for now…

As we mentioned in our past blog, screenplays average about 20,000 words. I’m guessing that GREEN DARKNESS is close to double the average 250,000 word count for a novel. All we have to do is condense 591 novel pages into 110 – 120 (max) screenplay pages. If you’re familiar with scripts you will quickly realize the extent of this challenge.

Have you read the book? Do you have a favorite part that you’d hate to see left out?

Stay tuned~~the plot thickens~~

1 comment:

  1. I am re-reading the book right now. I guess I read it about once every 20 years :) I don't know how you will ever cut this down as much as is required, and if you'll be able to retain the original flavor of the novel once you've done it. As you said, it is SO much in the past! That's the story part of it. Very little takes place in the "present". I will pay close attention as I read it this time, and will post some comments here if you wish. I'll be praying for your efforts, because I would love to see your project do really well!