Some quick followups and thoughts concerning yesterday’s movie news:
1. First, thank you to everyone who sent along congratulations and happy notes. They really did make my day. I’m glad you are all as excited out there as I am about this thing. It’s neat.
2. But if you ask me what my primary emotion was yesterday, I would have told you that it was relief. This has been in process for a while now, so it’s nice to be able to tell people about it, finally. The not telling was necessary, to be sure. I’m glad it’s done now.
3. I would again remind folks we’re in early days yet. We’re in a very good position of having a great producer, director and screenwriter working on the thing, and things so far are coming along nicely. But speaking as someone who has been following films professionally for two decades now, until filming actually starts (and sometimes even then), anything could happen. Anything.
This is the nature of creative stuff anyway. I mean, think about Old Man’s War the book: I wrote it in 2001, let it sit in a computer file for more than a year because I was doing other stuff, put it up on the site in December 2002, sold it when Patrick Nielsen Hayden of Tor read it off the site and made an offer, and then had to wait until January 2005 for it be professionally published, because of scheduling and strategy (which, you know, paid off). And a book is a simple thing, relative to a film.
This is to say that the easiest part of the film making process — the part where they want to use my book as the basis for a film, and I agree with them — is done, and now we get to all the hard parts, which are considerable. So: Early days. Lots could happen, including nothing. Be patient. Cultivate your zen.
4. That said, for those of you who just can’t wait, Tor.com has a thread for people who want to talk about who they should cast in the movie. Go and knock yourselves out.
5. Some of you have been quietly asking if having a movie deal now means I’m stinkin’ rich. Well, I have very smart agents and I’m also not bad on the financial stuff myself, so I’ve done fine on the option front, and if the movie goes into production I’ll do even better. But because among other things I live under the philosophy that money isn’t real until the check clears, I’ve got a novel under construction now and some more in the pipeline and I’m still doing all the other stuff that I do. In other words, I still gotta work, folks.
6. I know that some of you are worried about how the movie folks will change the book, which is why I snuck in that note yesterday reminding all and sundry that the movie is going to be an adaptation, not the book itself. To expand on that a bit, I’ll note that in fact the movie will do nothing to change the actual book — the book is done, and is out there, and I own the rights to it, and I’m not inclined to fiddle with it. So that’s settled.
The movie will not be the book; it can’t be and shouldn’t be, because the act of reading and the act of watching a film are two separate experiences. What works in words doesn’t always translate into sound and vision. Beyond this, if indeed Paramount is eyeing OMW as a tentpole film, then they’re going to build it with the intent of bringing in as many popcorn-munching people as possible, which has its own dynamic. I think as a book OMW is probably better adaptable to this than many — all those years of watching movies professionally and critically has sunk into my storytelling, and you may have noticed OMW has the classic three-act structure that movies love so well — but in the end it’s still going to be fiddled with.
As I noted before, I knew this going in, which why when people started asking about the book, we waited for people we felt would treat OMW seriously — and part of that seriously is “to adapt the book to its best advantage onscreen.” And once you do that, you let them do the work, because that’s their job.
This is the long way of saying that don’t worry that they’ll mess up the book. The book is untouchable. You might worry that they’ll mess up the movie, based on the book. But I have some fairly high confidence in these folks — studio, producer, director and screenwriter — and I’m very interested to see what the OMW port into film form will look like. It’s exciting stuff.