May 17, 2010

Script to Screen: Toa Fraser, Witi Ihimaera and John Barnett

The characters:

John Barnett, CEO and co-owner of South Pacific Pictures (Whale Rider, Sione’s Wedding, etc)
Witi Ihimaera, novelist and short story writer
Toa Fraser, playwright and film director, co-author (with Vincent Ward) of screenplay for River Queen, writer and director of  No. 2
Vanessa Alexander, The Chair, producer, director (Magik and Rose), writer and lecturer


The camera pans the faces of the public, revealing a higher percentage of men than we’ve seen at any other event. Lots of beards, too, real beards, not shave-every-3-days stubble. It travels down the blogger’s row, showing us that every single man is wearing jeans except for one bearded Thor Heyerdahl-type in cargo shorts, and then zooms in on the group on stage.

What makes a material suitable for adaptation?

Cut to John Barnett, looking like the cat who ate the canary.

You will have to love it every day for a very long time – something like 4 years. In the case of Whale Rider, 17 years. Then the story… lots of books leave you with a sense of desolation, and cinema audiences -- (aside, smiling) much larger than book audiences – tend to stay away from that kind of story… You can have a re-imagining, or a deconstruction, or a reconstruction, but you need to make sure you know which it is, what is your purpose.”

Cut to Witi Ihimaera, in a black velvet suit jacket, jeans, and a koru pendant which is so glittery as to seem inlaid with diamonds (maybe is?).

It’s always been a dilemma for me to adapt my work for screen. Film only sees what it sees. It looks down the barrel of the camera and it doesn’t see the edges. Of course we authors love to see the edges.

Cut to Toa Fraser, conversing about the choice of the African-American actress Ruby Dee to play the Mt. Roskill Fijian Nanna Maria in No. 2.  and how some people were against it but they were proven wrong. Individual lines hard to make out because blogger has noticed a modern day Colette look-alike in turquoise leotard and black smock, then a Gertrude Stein look-alike in ankle boots with heels, blue jeans, a man’s suit jacket and a big scarf, and is looking around for a third inter-war littérateur to put in the blog.

     Voiceover by blogger
I just need one more. There’s got to be a Zelda Fitzgerald here. Aargh, they’re dimming the lights…  

Film clip: Mia Blake and Ruby Dee in No. 2  (Ms. Dee in bed, Mia Blake helping her put on lipstick. Ms. Dee is a pro indeed. Mia Blake steps out of the room and pauses, emotive, looking off into the distance. Behind her, a map of Fiji on the wall)

     Blogger voiceover again
Hmm, that looks kind of constructed, she just happened to stop right by the map of Fiji?
Film clip ends.

(Warm applause)

Man did you see the great lighting in that scene when Mia Blake comes out of Nanna Maria’s room and she stops in the hallway and the lighting just picks out the map of Fiji on the wall and makes us notice it?

     Blogger  voiceover
Oh, umm. Anyway it looks like a good movie, I think it's the kind that would have me choking up a few times. Wow, Ruby Dee flying out to New Zealand to make this movie two weeks after her husband died. They were always making movies together. She was so beautiful when she was young. They had a TV show together too. Wow. It’s really like they say. The show must go on.


Ditulis Oleh : tosca // 03:30


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