Barry Eisler On Taking Books to Film

Having my first book, Rain Fall, made into a movie last year by Sony Pictures Japan was a great experience.  Fascinating and fun.  I visited the set, which was very cool; I met Gary Oldman and Akira Emoto, two actors I like a lot; and I attended the premiere, which was a blast.  If you want to know more, here’s my writeup of the premiere in Tokyo; photos of set and the premiere; and a short video of the premiere (if you can stand my mangled Japanese).

Rain Fall
Published: July 1, 2003

Although Sony bought the screenplay I adapted from my novel, in the end, the director they hired, Max Mannix, wanted to use his own.  Naturally, I preferred mine (who wouldn’t prefer his own?), but it wasn’t my movie so I was fine with their decision.  If you’re curious about some lessons I learned in adapting my book for the screen, here’s an article I wrote called Story in the Novel and for the Screen.  Very important to remember which you’re writing for, and to keep in mind the tendencies and possibilities of each.

Having a movie made from your book is great.  No matter how the movie turns out, it can only help sell books.  An easy principle to understand, of course, if the movie is great, and stars Johnny Depp and wins multiple academy awards.  But it’s true even for a bad movie.  A bad movie won’t dissuade people who already like your books.  And while many people who see the bad movie won’t be moved to buy your books as a result, at least a few will, and those few wouldn’t have heard of you, or bought your books, in the absence of a movie.  So sales-wise, a movie represents only potential gain — a good thing to remember should you suffer the quality problem of your book being made into a bad movie.

I think it’s best to expect that once the deal is done, the movie people won’t want anything to do with you and that you won’t like their movie.  That way, you can only be pleasantly surprised.  If you surrender creative control, be professional.  It’s not your movie; it’s a movie that’s based on, or even just inspired by, your book.  Think of it that way to keep proper perspective.  Your novels; someone else’s movie.




Dayna Linton
Dayna Linton
Dayna is the owner of not only Novels Alive but of Day Agency, a full-service self-publishing agency for independent authors. She has been assisting independent authors to achieve their dreams of becoming published authors for over 15 years. From New York Times and USA Today Bestselling authors to the first-time author to every author in between. Dayna is a self-professed bibliophile. While dancing has always been her first love, reading came as a very, very close second, with gardening coming in as a close third. Dayna is also the divorced mom of four adult children and a very proud grandma. She is also a web designer, social media specialist, book blogger, and reviewer. She's a long-time Disney lover and a Utah Jazz, Utah Utes, and Dallas Cowboys fan. See Dayna's reviews here: Dayna's Reviews


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -