Sunday, May 21, 2017

Seeing my book made into a movie

When I wrote SMALL CRIMES back in 2003 I had no expectation of seeing it made into a movie. Back then I'd had two short stories published in magazines, I'd written two other books (FAST LANE and BAD THOUGHTS) that I hadn't yet been able sell, and all I was hoping for was to write a book that could be published.

When SMALL CRIMES was filmed last summer, my wife and I spent a day at the set. This was when they were filming at Joe's parent's home with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Robert Forster, and Jacki Weaver, and when we got there we were put in a girl's bedroom on the second floor while they were blocking out the first scene of the day, which is when Joe stormed up to his parent's bedroom. So we were sitting around talking to one of the producers, and all of a sudden we heard all this foot stomping and yelling, and I was feeling goosebumps hearing my book come alive. Rumble Films, the crew, all the actors couldn't have been nicer. Probably my best day as an author. This beat out getting a call from John Williams at Serpent's Tail that they wanted to publish SMALL CRIMES, probably even beating out NPR picking SMALL CRIMES as one of their top 5 crime & mystery novels of 2008.

So what was it like when I finally got to watch the movie? I'd been prepared for the changes between the movie and the book--I'd read the script, and knew up front what had been changed. There always has to be changes for a number of reasons, including movie length, budgetary concerns, director's vision. But even with all the changes and the last third of the book gone, the movie still feels very much like my book, and the film's Joe Denton feels very much like my Joe Denton. As good as all the actors were (Robert Forster, Jacki Weaver, Robert Cole were all pitch perfect, and Molly Parker gave an amazingly nuanced performance as Charlotte Boyd), Nikolaj's performance was brilliant. He played Joe as someone desperately trying (and failing) to con those around him that he just wants to be a better person, but at times cracks show through, revealing the true Joe. In all sincerity, I think this is a smart, brilliantly acted film, and Evan Katz and Macon Blair did a masterful job merging their vision with mine so that both exist simultaneously.

So what was it like to see my book made into a movie? A thrill. No other way to describe it.


pga007 said...

I haven't read your book, but did see the Netflix movie of it. A very enjoyable experience, if one really can " enjoy " noir. I agree that your main character did an excellent job conveying the con's con,sometimes so much you think he might even believe it himself. The story dynamics were very strong,and I agree the rest of the cast performed magnificently.

Kaye George said...

Terrific! Congratulations on this huge achievement. What a wonderful experience.

Barry Ergang said...

Mazel tov, Dave! I look forward to reading the book and then watching the movie.

Barry Ergang said...

Hmm..good news. I have read the book, so I'll watch the movie later today.

Dave Zeltserman said...

Kay, Barry, thanks! pga007, there was a lot of self-delusion in the book, and I think they did a subtle job capturing that in the film. Noir might not be enjoyable, in that you don't necessarily have a hero to root for, although you still might be hoping that the protagonist doesn't get swallowed up by the abyss regardless of his weaknesses and fault. Still, it can be oddly cathartic. Morality is restored by the end, and there's also some of that 'there but the grace of God' lesson.