"It'd Make a Great Movie" = "I Have Unrealistic Expectations"

This has been bugging me for a while. I see it happen a lot. An author will be interviewed on a book blog or review site, and the author will say, "...And I think my novel would make a terrific movie or television show."

A lot of authors might feel this way. That's fine. But don't put it out there. They may as well say, "...And I have unrealistic expectations" or "...And I think my novel would make a terrific plaque to put up on the moon."

Movies shouldn't even be on your radar. You need to develop a following through your writing. That's how novels are converted to the screen. If they're going to happen, they'll happen. But until then, you need to stop being preoccupied with something that very likely will never happen.

You make novels, not movies. You don't see a lot of directors out there saying how their movies would make great novels.

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Is it ok for fans to say that?
Fans, sure. Because that's building the demand for the movie organically.
Except that "small" or obscure books are optioned or bought every day by people in the film industry. They don't all get made into movies, but it happens--even when there's not necessarily a crowd of fans clamoring at the gates.

And let me go on the record right now, in case I haven't already made it known: my novels would make fantastic movies. Or maybe an HBO series. Seriously.
But what's your mission? To write great novels or to have your novels made into movies? The latter is what I'm talking about.
What makes you think the two are mutually exclusive? Once I've written them, I want them to have as much life--and earn as much income--as possible. If my agent thinks there's film/TV potential, who am I to argue?
I'm not saying it shouldn't happen. Take it if it's there. But there's this preoccupation out there that has to do with getting a book made into a movie, like that's the reason they wrote the book in the first place.
I'd rather see your books developed into an HBO series. The layers and potential of your settings and characters will have to glossed over in the short window allotted to a movie. Four- or five- hour miniseries would be great.
I look for books that would have a tough time being turned into movies. I'm not really interested in, "Hollywood on the page," to paraphrase Benjamin LeRoy at Tyrus Books.

Have said that, last year I sold the movie rights to my first novel, Dirty Sweet, and was hired to co-write the script which we've just finished. It's quite different from the book, as it has to be, but I think it's pretty good. I'm annoyed to get paid more for the movie rights (never mind the writing fee for the screenplay) than for the book itself, but I took the money.

As Jon says, lots of obscure and odd books get optioned every day. In fact, I'd bet more often than not they are the books that look more difficult to turn into a movie. Jon's series, for example, would make a great HBO (or other cable network) series - the characters are good, the setting is really interesting and the books have attitude.
John--very exciting for you, congratulations! Good luck going forward--what happens next?
Next the producer tries o get a director and some actors interested and then a studio. If it moves forward at all it will likely be a co-production which be complicated and will probably could take a while. there's really no standard procedure to get movies made in Canada but we all say we want to avoid the usual route that leads to bleak movies about alienated people not saying very much ;)
Hope it greenlights, John!
Congratulations and good luck, John. Getting you to work on the screenplay should be a huge help. The key to getting your books to work as movies is to capture the attitude on the screen. No one will know if that's working better than you, especially given the time you've spent around films. I could look at a movie set and have no idea what it will look or sound like when it's in a theater; you'll know.


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