Writers love the edges: Script to Screen

Another full session, and one full, again, of great and inspiring stuff!  Any one of the panel could have held an audience on their own for the hour, but Witi Ihimaera, John Barnett, Philippa Campbell and Toa Fraser instead, with the help of chair Vanessa Alexander, managed to share the stage in almost equal measure. 

And this, I think was the main thing that I took away from this session – that in New Zealand, film-making is truly an ‘equal measure’ kind of process.  Adaptation of script or novel, with all its perils and challenges, can really only truly be successful when everyone works together – author, director, script-writer, actor and audience. 

A (far too) brief recollection of some of the ideas discussed:

Most important question when assessing a work for adaptation, John says, is “Does this resonate with me?”  If not, you will never successfully convey the spirit of the book or play. 

How do you get from the initial thing to the end-product?  Philippa:  Can use reconstruction, deconstruction or poetic re-imagining, and must be clear about which of these it is.  Also, she says, you must “place yourself inside the purpose of your adaptation.”

Advice to young or aspiring directors or script-writers from Witi:  “If you’re a writer, don’t even begin to get into adaptation … I used to say, Any old hack can write a film script.  But [it turns out] this old hack can’t.”

Toa:  “New Zealand films need people every step of the way to believe in them and will them into existence.”  And the real joy in NZ movies is working together with people from every area of production, from producers to actors to carpenters to gaffers. 

And finally, my favourite quote of the session, from the amazing Witi Ihimaera:

“Film only sees what it sees, and it doesn’t see the edges.  Writers love the edges.”

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