I teach a class where the students adapt a short story or short play into a short film. I catch a lot of flack because I’m so mean and don’t let them film their own precious original ideas. Yeah, well, the world is mean. Which would you rather have, a not-very-good film that is based on your own not-very-good idea, or a film that is really, really, really good, based on someone else’s killer idea?
It’s easier to write a good script from a good idea. Well, rearrange that to: It’s impossible to make a great film from an idea that is not great.
If your film is not great, you have wasted your time. “Good” and “Very Good” are worthless to you as a career builder.
Most (95%) student films (I started teaching 19 years ago) are based on weak ideas.
No one out there cares if you came up with the idea yourself.
They are only interested in seeing a superb movie that you made.
If you are adapting someone’s superb short story, instead of your own semi-lame idea, you will make a far better movie.
It will help you in the long run.
You will get better actors to be in your movie because your script started off at “Hoo fuckin’ ray!!” instead of “I hope we can save this.”
You will therefore make a better movie.
That’s basically it.
Adaptation vs. Original Idea From A Beginner is practical & pragmatic and realistic. It’s also cold and heartless, but so is the real world.
I push for adaptation because it delivers far, far, far better results.
Unless, of course, you’re one of the 5% who has a fantastic idea for a movie. Then have at it!