MTV Networks is ready to adapt another movie into a TV series. Get ready to SCREAM!
The network will produce a pilot for a TV-series adaptation of the popular horror films. The series would reinvent the horror-comedy franchise that began with the original release in 1996, which was written by Kevin Williamson and directed by Wes Craven.
SCREAM would be the second movie-to-TV adaption for MTV, alongside the widly popular TEEN WOLF TV series, written by Jeff Davis. With this new development brings the question, are movie-to-TV adaptions the right move? And how does a writer do it?
TV series and movies are one of the popular entertainments for people. Television shows have captured the imagination of the people and the actors and actresses who work in these series and it’s all due to the insomniac writers. Even though, Kevin Williamson won’t pen this series, (he’s a little busy writing for his other serial killers on The Following) the writing should still, hopefully, be the same comedic and horror tone SCREAM fans all know too well.
Today Hollywood looks with envy to TV, to powerful storytelling, to brilliant, edgy one-off dramas. TV easily offers equal and greater riches with epic story and character arcs building throughout the seasons, whereas in films, the story end in less than three hours (unless there’s a sequel…).
Today TV productions often match features in big scale ideas, visuals, emotions – even cost. Yes, you can argue that features need a different sensibility – you write for a global audience – and you write for a shared audience experience. You’re not writing for the boy who’s home alone and leaves the story experience several times to text his friends back. In cinema, ideally, the writer’s main goal is to keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the movie. TV writers are allowed to get away with a ton of commercial breaks, leaving them to write different “OMG” moments when ever they want.
All this still leaves the question, how does a writer make a movie-to-TV series successful.
First and foremost, movies are creative ideas of writers whose main motive is entertainment and enjoyment trying at the same time to give to the audience something new or present visuals and acting talent of the stars in a novel manner. The intention of screenwriters is to write a compelling story that will bring an audience to the theaters. The more the people go and watch the movie, the more is the movie considered to be successful (duh).
Who’s responsible for making a TV show able to be endured with so many ads in between? (No doubt the series has to be entertaining or otherwise you wouldn’t sit through so many commercials, and this is precisely the reason the quality of TV series has improved a lot; so much so that in video quality, format and writing, they are no less than a weekly 60 minute, continuous, movie)
So who’s responsible? The actors? The style of the show? The budget? If you answered yes to all of them, you are correct, but the most important aspect of a TV series is till missing. The writing.
The writing for a successful show must grow and mature from episode to episode. It has to capture viewers every week they watch. The writer must make the viewer remember every minute why they started or will begin watching their show.
In film – we want that character arc; we need the character to learn something, to change, to reach a conclusion, a resolution. In TV we often want and need the character to stay the same, to keep struggling from episode to episode and season to season.
What can a writer do to make his or her TV show worth watching? It can be anything really. An entirely new world, a freaky fresh way of storytelling, a truly special character. The uniqueness can be something big or small – a different way of looking at the world or simply a fresh twist on an old tale. When a writer is working on their script they should feel as if they are in the presence of something special, something fresh, something worth your time. When you’re writing, it should feel personal. If it isn’t, think about it. If you still don’t know, ask others. It’ll help you direct your focus on the right medium, and collaboration partners, of course.
Even though the gap between films and television shows is narrowing, is it a right move to turn one into the other? We all know how “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” went, but there has also been successful movies that were born from TV shows. 21 Jump Street was a huge hit. Well, not when it was on TV, but when they brought the show back as a movie it became a must watch comedy film. If a screenwriter is going to adapt an already known piece, it has to be done properly or get ready for the pitchforks and torches.
As we move forward, TV is going to become more and more viable as a place for artistic expression. With the rise of critically praised cable TV shows like Breaking Bad, Homeland, and Mad Men, I can imagine aspiring screenwriters setting their sights on TV as a possible outlet. Some artists might find the feature film format to be too restrictive, and concentrate their energies on working their way through a cable network, pitching ideas, etc. We are seeing all this in action come into play over at MTV Networks. With the success of TEEN WOLF, their call to turn a well-known horror franchise into a TV series, with a new take, is a good decision. Teen horror is an overrated genre and MTV viewers love it and if Wes Craven is directing the pilot, I’m on board. Are you? Guess we will have to wait until summer 2014.
TV shows or movies? Which do you prefer? What are some films that you think should be made into a TV series, or vice versa? Leave your comments down below.