I’m currently working on a few different projects, one being an adaptation my novel Simon as Season 1 of an original anthology series. It’s quite an undertaking but I’m … taking it under. Or undertaking it. Seems like overtaking much of the time. The idea is to create a new modern-day retelling story for each season. I’m not limiting myself to Shakespeare at this time.
When adapting a novel to a movie script, one of the biggest challenges is deciding what to cut out. (“The book was sooooo much better.”) But the process I find myself in with Simon constitutes an entirely different challenge in that I’m actually having to add content. It’s essentially an 8-hour movie! (Maybe 13???)
One of the more beneficial adjustments I’ve made is rethinking the story with a true ensemble cast. Simon as the Hamlet character is of course at the center of everything, but a season of television will mean more scenes at the country club, more time with the Beaumont family, and yes, even more flashback scenes featuring Simon and Juliana’s romance when Simon’s father Richard was alive.
Another story device I’m experimenting with is the sensationalized network news coverage of the mass murder. The novel starts there, and that first hour of coverage plays out at the start of two other chapters (#10 & #16 of the book’s 17 chapters). The idea for the TV series is to start each episode with 5 minutes of news coverage from that first, chaotic hour. After those minutes, the anchor will break for commercial – and that’s where the Simon storyline will pick up where it left off at the end of the previous episode. Like I said, it’s an experiment. It definitely works (in my mind).
Of course, once I committed time and energy to this project, I read the news of the feature film adaptation of Lisa Klein’s YA book Ophelia. It’s getting a fair amount of buzz because Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) is cast in the title role. Called a Hamlet “spinoff” (huh?), the novel and film tell the original, period-piece story from the unstable heroine’s POV. Like the reviews of this book (which I haven’t read), my feelings are mixed on this project. Is it a bad thing that will make my project seem like a “just been there/just done that” copy? OR could a mainstream light shining on an alternative Hamlet story be thought of as the start of a possible trend? That would make my project (which is vastly different, of course) seem attractive and marketable.
We shall see . . .