Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A bit about adapting Oz...

I haven't blogged about my ongoing writing of the ultimate "Wonderful Wizard of Oz" screenplay in awhile... Well, longtime blog readers will know that I have been working on it with Sam Milazzo, a fellow Oz fan in Australia. I want to clarify that while Sam and I share all of our ideas with each other, we are not collaborating on a script, we're writing separate scripts that we hope to combine one day.

One of the biggest problems you can have when adapting a book like this is when you're a fan of it and appreciate how it was written so much. Adapting a story to another medium (with a few exceptions) always requires some changes, and when you love the original, it's hard to make yourself do them when they need to be done.

I've noticed that Sam is better at writing adventurous and exciting action scenes, while I seem to handle the "humanizing" of the story better. That already was the first requirement for me to alter, add, or reluctantly omit certain items. I've asked questions like: "Why is Uncle Henry so dismal at the beginning of the book?" "Why do Aunt Em and Uncle Henry seem so detached from Dorothy?" "Would Dorothy's friends she meets in Oz really get along together so well right off the bat?"

One chance that presented itself was to make the Winkies stronger characters. This called for completely re-arranging the main events in the chapter "The Rescue" (or "How The Four Were Reunited," though whoever did that title forgot Toto) and placing them earlier in the story. It also gave a chance to create a "lead Winkie" character.

One change that I made was obvious: I used the Tin Woodman's origin from The Tin Woodman of Oz instead of the version in the original book. By doing that, you remove the character of the old woman that Nimee Aimee lived with and simply have the Wicked Witch of the East, who, save for this, doesn't get any screen time, except for her feet. Also, the later version is more dramatic and is easier to put a brief romance into, making Nick's loss of his heart all the more tragic. And believe me, I made it TRAGIC.

I've been weighing options to actually make the movie, the easiest option that presents itself is animating it, but believe me, I'm not up to doing an animated movie myself, so I'd have to ally myself with some good animators and voice actors, and we'd also need all the sound effects and music. However, Sam is not keen on doing it animated, and honestly, neither am I.

There's also the possibility of doing it as an independent live action film, which would be more costly, but with the funding and right talent, it could be done. Sure, our dream cast lists would have to fly out the window (though I actually want to cling to my Scarecrow choice as much as possible!), but if the end result is a quality film, it's worth it.

But first... We need to finish the script!

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