"From Page to Screen: Turning Your Book Into a Movie." That was the title of one of the workshops I attended during the "Navigating Your Writing Life Symposium" presented by the Virginia Writers Club. I was intrigued. What author doesn't want to see his or her book up on the silver screen?
The workshop was given by John Gilstrap, a New York Times bestselling author who sold movie rights to his first two novels, Nathan's Run and At All Costs. He talked about important points for selling rights to a movie studio. Even after you've sold the rights, there's still no guarantee a movie will be made, he explained. Here are some points he gave in the process from book to movie:
1. Write a cinematic book with compelling imagery and lots of things happening.
2. Attract a movie producer. It helps to have Hollywood contacts.
3. Sell or option the film rights. Nothing happens until the money exchanges hands. Hollywood is all about the money, he pointed out. He said that nine times out of ten, the author is out of it at this point.
4. Develop the project. This involves a treatment which presents the structure of the movie in a compelling way. The screenplay comes next, and someone--it could be the book author--is hired to write it. Then the acting talent is brought in.
5. Involve a studio.
Gilstrap explained the difference between selling an option and an actual purchase of all rights. The purchase means more money for the author. However, if that producer never makes the movie, a movie will never be made of the book. That's because the purchase deal usually involves buying all film rights to all the characters in the book.
One point Gilstrap emphasized was, "Never cut a deal in Hollywood without an agent."
Getting a movie deal for your book is an exciting dream. For my first novel, Hearts Across Forever, I visualized a romantic movie scene of women clad in glorious pastel-colored ball gowns dancing on a misty portico in old Jamaica during colonial times. So much action. Such fantastic tropical scenery. From page to scene, I can still visualize it as a movie...
Mary Montague Sikes