Whether “Sleeper’s Run” is compared to films or readers tell me what a great movie it will make, or I’m asked about its potential for a big screen adaptation, the question about a motion picture adaptation seems inevitable. At this point, this is nothing more than an exercise in wishful thinking. I’m a very visual person, meaning that I see what I create play out in my mind first. When I write, I just describe these scenes as they develop clearly in my mind. When you add to this my background in film, it makes a transition between mediums quite obvious, but there are some issues I’d like to talk about.
They word is “adaptation.” A book taken to film will not survive the transition unchanged. Each medium has its strengths and weakness. Some books have a hard time when jumping into the silver screen, “Heart of Darkness” is one example. Others become better as films, like “Jaws.” Some get a nice facelift, as in the case of “The Bourne Identity.” And yet, a few books find an equally successful transition as with “The Lord of the Rings” and the Harry Potter series. Granted, some fans have different issues with these adaptations, but overall, they have transcended their literary lives claiming a niche in film. Recently I saw a preview for John le Carré’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/focus_features/tinkertailorsoldierspy/, which I can’t wait to see. Lee Child’s Jack Reacher is close to make his film debut amidst some controversy from the series’ fans. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/18/movies/tom-cruise-agrees-to-play-jack-reacher.html
The challenge with something like “Sleeper’s Run,” is how can you adapt such a peculiar first person narrative? This is an element that sets the novel apart and gives it a unique flavor. On the other hand, things like chases, fight scenes, gunfights and locales can be enhanced in a motion picture. Would it lose its essence? Would it become just another sleek, shoot-’em-up summer event or a landmark in its genre? “Sleeper’s Run” was always meant to be a novel. I took advantage of the particular advantages of the printed word to tell the story.
Unlike a novel, a movie is made by an army of people with different agendas and points of view. Also, film is a collective experience rather than a personal one, like in a book. When we read a novel, we all have our own unique version of the story in our minds. What we see in a movie is a director’s interpretation of a story, which is hopefully closer to the image the majority of readers have of a particular narrative.
Again, this is just an exercise in imagination. I hope you find it entertaining. Keep on running!