Monday, January 31, 2011

Episode 8 - Based on the Best-Selling Podcast!

Starring Daniel Radcliffe as Timothy Deal and Michael Cera as Nick Hayden, this investigative thriller follows the hard-hitting investigation of two heretofore unknown podcasters as they delve into the intricacies of movie adaptations, stumbling deep down the rabbit hole of Hollywood business decisions and fan demands to discover, once and for all, whether there is truth behind that universal declaration, "The book was better."

With a rip-roaring Soundtrack, commentary by Listener Feedback, newly expanded Project Updates, and a behind-the-scenes Cinema Selections, this is one experience that the San Francisco Herald-Tribune-Gazette calls, "heart-stoppingly wonderful...cruelly sophisticated...hopelessly naive...the best hour of pure entertainment since that one time!" Don't miss it! (3D glasses not included.) 


Show Notes

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  1. Hey Nick and Tim,

    Great podcast as usual. I actually took a class over the summer about narrative adaptation. The big project of the class was to adapt something into a movie, which was a daunting task, since I’m always hesitant about adaptations. I find that I’m more accepting of adaptations when I’m unfamiliar with the source material. That way, I’m not likely to have formed a negative opinion on the movie, and can enjoy it for what it is.

    I ended up choosing to adapt a video game called Fragile Dreams: Farewell Ruins of the Moon. I finished it just before the class, and thought the story was captivating, but knew not a lot of people were ever going to play the game. I found it to be easier to adapt than a book, since I could edit down a 15-hour action JRPG survival game that covers less than a 300-page book would.

    Two questions I’d like to hear your thoughts on. 1) What was your first bad adaptation experience? Mine was The Indian in the Cupboard. I saw that in theaters in middle school and kept thinking “the book was way better than this.” 2) Do you think storytelling in video games make a bigger impact than a movie or book could?

    Keep up the great work!
    -Greg Meyer

  2. I'm curious--did your class emphasize anything in particular about adaptations? I've never tried my hand with anything that wasn't mine to begin with (moving a story from one format to another).

    As for your questions, my first bad adaptation experience was "Jurassic Park." I was 12 at the time, if my math is right, and I was really upset about the changes they made. Enough so that my parents still remember my complaints. ;-)

    As far as storytelling in video games, I think it's possible, but I haven't thought through it and I haven't played near enough video games in recent years. I think a podcast on participatory stories (video games, Interactive Fiction, etc.) is something we should put on our roster.


  3. One of the main lessons we learned in class was deciding the focus of your adaptation. There was the faithful adaptation, which is sticking as close to your source material as possible. The second style was a mix between sticking to the source material and changing the story to make it flow better as a movie. Most movie adaptations tend to follow this road in adapting stories. The final one was changing everything in the story to fit as a movie, but keeping the spirit of the source material in tact.

    You’re probably in a better position than most scriptwriters for adapting source material. All screenwriters have to pay a fee to just adapt a story into a script. Some authors are pretty generous to screenwriters, but others come with a hefty price tag. The only way I could see you having a problem adapting your stories into scripts would be if you had multiple personalities, and one of them was extremely stingy.


  4. Funny thing is, I'm having a hard time thinking of bad adaptation experiences from childhood. It seems like it was more often that watching a movie adaptation would inspire me to go read the book. Oftentimes I would wind up liking the book better, but I couldn't get mad at the movie since it had got me to read the book in the first place.

    I do remember feeling disappointed in the commercials I saw for the Super Mario Bros. movie. That looked scary, violent, and over my head at that age; certainly nothing like the cheery world of Super Mario. When I finally did watch it as an adult, I still found it a bizarre experience. Why they chose to depict the Mushroom Kingdom after something from Blade Runner I'll never know.

    Concerning your second question, Greg, I would agree that video game stories can make a big impact, but I wouldn't say "bigger" than books or movies. It's just a different type of impact. Like Nick, I don't think I've played enough to be authoritative on this subject. Still, I think it's safe to say that video games excel at getting you into the world of a story, but tend to be limited in what type of story they can tell. But yeah, this subject definitely needs its own Story School someday. :-)


  5. By the way, the Lighting video we mentioned in this episode is finally online! You can find it here:

  6. I loved hearing your thoughts on "Dawn Treader." I would add to that discussion, but you can read my review of the movie on my Narnia Examiner page:

    Concerning adaptation in general...

    I agree that ultimately it boils down to whether the film itself is good. Some are so well done, as you mentioned, they eclipse the book (like "Wizard of Oz"). Some, however, are just plain bad. Case in point (as I mentioned in your interview of me): "Starship Troopers." It's just plain bad. As Brosman said, "The book is about the philosophy of war. The movie can be summed up like this: 'We're teenagers! We're horny! We have big guns! We blow up bugs!'" The only good thing about it the special effects.

    Something you only touched on are comic book adaptations. As an avid reader of comics, I have noticed that the best comic book films (if they're not based on a graphic novel) are ones that combine the best elements of different storylines from different comics and different eras. The upcoming "Thor" movie, for example, borrows elements from the earlier comics where Thor is cast to Earth as a mortal as punishment for arrogance. But he spends his time in a desert town like he does in the newer comics (written by J. Michael Strazynski, I might add). His costume also looks more like the one in the newer comics. It's much like adapting mythology. There's a bit more leeway to take liberties (though fanboys will still get ticked off, regardless).

    You are right about how films, which seem to have more clear-cut interpretations, can actually be taken differently by different people. Recently, I saw the rather trippy film "Sucker Punch." It's about a young woman who, it seems, is abandoned at a brothel and rallies the girls there to escape. This is shown through crazy fantasy sequences that represent their actions as they escape. I liked it because for a movie that could have had a lot of pointless and cheap titillation, it was surprisingly tame. The characters were real characters instead of just eye candy. It also portrayed the brothel as a bad place where women are used and abused, as opposed to someplace glamorous. However, I have a friend who saw it as misogynistic, even going so far as to label it softcore pornography.

    I'm sorry for this book of a comment, but I hope it fosters some discussion in a later podcast.

  7. Upon further reflection, I thought of some more comments to post on this episode.

    First, to talk about another film adaptation, this time "Watchmen." It's based on a classic graphic novel by Alan Moore. I liked the book, and the movie did a few things I didn't like and some that I thought were better. While the book is violent, the movie overdoes the violence so much in several scenes, it's unwatchable and borderline sadistic. Also, the movie is fond of overlong sex scenes, which in the comic last only a few frames (not that I'm condoning them in the comic. I'm a firm believer that sex isn't a "spectator sport.") However, I like the ending in the movie more. While the events are almost identical, the characters' reactions to them in the movie not only make more sense, they're more satisfying for the viewer.

    Now, about writing being intellectual and movies emotional: I'm think you're both right AND wrong. First, there have been many noteworthy "intellectual" films produced, like "The Matrix" and "The Fountain." They challenge the viewer to think as well as feel. However, author Jack Cavanaugh, when I took a novel writing seminar with him while at TUFW, said what separates fiction from all other forms of writing is that its primary goal is to arouse reader's (or viewer's) emotions. Its one thing to read statistics about the squalor and injustices poor Londoners endured in the 19th century, but its an entirely different experience to read "Oliver Twist" by Charles Dickens. It is fiction, but you are experiencing the hopelessness of characters who lived in those conditions. It makes those realities palpable, understandable. In fact, Dickens wrote such stories hoping it would inspire others to help the poor once they understood their plights.

    Now, I should probably go catch up with my DToT listening.