Adapting Short Fiction for the Screen, Guest Blog by Screenwriter Derek Ryan

Derek Ryan is the screenwriter of an independent adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's 2BR02B based in Vancouver B.C. 2BR02B was one of Mr. Vonnegut's early short stories, written before most of his novels. Since it is such a splendid example of Short Fiction, he is reaching out to the short fiction community hoping to drum up support for turning it into a film.

For me, this was my first time adapting a literary piece into a screenplay format. Luckily, since the short story is already so cinematic, I didn’t have a David-esque battle to fight in order to make it work for the screen. The biggest challenge for me was giving the audience knowledge about the world that the film inhabits without resorting to narration or some gross sequence of expository dialogue. I feel narration is somewhat of a cheat, so instead, we added an entirely new scene as a prequel to the events in the short story. This way, the audience gets to see more of the world, and infer from what is seen, as to what the world is like. Though narration may be the most effective way to get facts across, I find it boring. We have our characters talking about the Federal Bureau of Termination and gradually over the course of the first few scenes, things start to fill in. I like it when the audience doesn’t know the whole story right from the start. It’s just more exciting that way.

The dialogue in the story also needed some revamping. In the original short story, there is an extended use of a 2BR02B vernacular that includes words and phrases that we don’t use. This happens when you get a very good piece of Sci-Fi. The world building is very important. But for us, in order for the audience to not be confused(since we have a limited time frame and can’t write exposition like in a book), some of these phrases needed to be toned down. For example, I couldn’t use all of the slang terms for the Federal Bureau of Termination, but instead could only fit in two. That was something that I didn’t necessarily want to do, but to have all of those terms floating around would have been too confusing to the audience. So, in order to still include them in our project, we decided to use all of those slang terms for the names of the perks we are giving away on the IndieGoGo page.

Anyways, turning this story into a screenplay was an absolute pleasure. It offered a great skeleton from which to make an excellent screenplay. Being able to have access to such a great story, and about a very interesting, and pressing issue – population -- was something that was a huge honour. Population is something that as a world we need to take a look at. The statistics behind population growth over the past 100 years are insane.

Though we are still at the early stages, this project promises to be one that everyone on our team can be proud of. It’s going to be a long haul going forward, but it will all be worth it in the end. Anyway, we hope that you guys like what we are trying to, and please give the short story a read! It’s a fantastic story, and we know it will make a fantastic film, especially with Paul Giamatti as the Lead. Thank you so much for letting me post on here, and I hope that you guys like what you see.

Here is the story -- http://www.gutenberg.org/files/21279/21279-h/21279-h.htm

Here is the link to our page -- http://bit.ly/1bCjYXB

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