24 June, 2009

Sparking Adaptation Thoughts...

Every now and then, just when you think you have a water-tight schedule for how your research will progress that day, something comes along that blows it all up. Sometimes this can make you want to rip your hair from the roots, lock yourself in a small cupboard in the basement of a library and never see or speak to humans again as you rock back and forth, hugging your knees, trying to remember why you dove into PhD research in the first place, but sometimes, like today, it gets you whirling and thinking about all sorts of avenues that you hadn't thought about before.

All it took for me today was the interview on makingof.com with Melissa Rosenberg. It was only 8 minutes long, but while Twilight gossip runs rampant (and you'll notice I'm not a fan of commenting on the periphery gossip of the cast), information on the creative processes of the adaptations is not as plentiful; and every time there's just one new line of information, I get about a dozen new questions and ideas to follow.

I'm not familiar with makingof.com, but obviously I'm now going to stalk it for some of my behind-the-scenes informational needs. This interview was fairly general, but she did give me a few jumping off items that I'm going to have to see if I can learn more about. It was neat to hear about the processes in general; what she is used to, how she generally works, and then the specific examples with the Twilight Saga. I was surprised to learn that she considered her collaboration with Stephenie Meyer in Twilight's adaptation was less than it is in New Moon and Eclipse, as I certanily always got the feeling that she was heavily invovled in all of the processes. Although that may have been more towards the end; once they had a draft they circulated it to Meyer, and that's where the tweaking happened, whereas in Eclipse, Rosenberg actually sent Meyer her outline for the film, and they've worked together utilizing the unwritten elements of the novel (i.e. the significant backstory and mythology that didn't need to be in the book, but Meyer had to create to understand and write the text), and incorporating them into the film.

I also liked how Rosenberg called these moments 'easter eggs', using the DVD terminology for secrets hidden in the disc that only the die-hards would find, or the fans would understand. This is a nice nod to the ravenous fanbase who will, of course, have read all of the correspondance on The Twilight Lexicon, read the deleted chapters on Meyers's website, and have poured through every periphery text that has branched off from Meyers's four original texts. It's interestng to have one media's terminology (easter eggs for DVDs) apply to a film and a novel.

Lastly (well, lastly for this post, I've gotta go type some of this up while I'm thinking about it!), it was nice to hear Rosenberg's acknowledgement of the fans. She knew she was working with something beloved by millions, and many would disregard this in the creative process and just write the story that they felt needed to be told, but when working with a hugely popular text like this, and producing one of thes translation for an event film*, I think you need to realize the impact that respecting the fans can have on the final piece. It doesn't sound like she found that to be a shackle to her writing, but instead more of a motivation to turn a well-realized novel into a better-realized screenplay.

I still don't think the Twilight Saga is a perfect adaptation (nothing ever will be), but it's brilliant to analyze the different aspects of this particular work, and see how they have approached each translation of the novel, and how they are learning from each act as well. Twilight was open to all, very few knew what it was they were actually working with (as in the scope and mania surrounding this film). Now, with New Moon, it's a closed set, very few pictures and interviews have been released, and the set-visits were very limited and controlled (good for the filmmakers to control the interpretation and access of the media, but not necessarily an accurate representation of that set; it's more tailored and limited), and there have been less leaks of information online. I'll be quite interested to see how this affects the script, the film, the advertising and reception of the finished work.

See? Rambling... brain spinning... I love these days that get me thinking. I'm off now to see what other avenues and questions I can pull from this.

*I feel the need to define 'event film' as I don't think I have before. Event film is a rather new term, and it basically refers to a film that transcends one media, is from another print source, usually, and has entertainment events attached to its releases (i.e. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Twilight... based off of beloved books, huge fan base, midnight release parties, conventions, concerts and merchandise associated with each release etc.)

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