25 Jul Book to Film to Book to Film to…
The Last Days of Night was always intended to be a novel. It was conceptualized, researched, outlined, and written for the page, and for the page alone. But, well, even the best laid plans…
So here’s what happened. I actually started researching TLDON before I wrote The Imitation Game. I’d work on the book every chance I could get during the 5 years we spent making that movie. Most of the first draft of TLDON was actually written on the set of TIG, because film sets — for a writer— are basically super boring most of the time, punctuated by occasional bursts of white-hot panic. Hiding in my trailer — well, my 1/4 of a trailer, to be accurate, since this was a tiny independent film — and typing away at TLDON became my favorite form of stress relief.
I wrote most of the second draft of TLDON in the TIG post-production building. I had this little window-less office that our editor Billy let me use for a few months while he was cutting the film. Largely so he could keep me around and tease me about how comically wordy my dialogue was. Every now and again our director Morten would poke his head in my room and ask how the book was going. When I described the story to him, he asked if I’d thought about adapting it as a film — “that sounds like a movie!” But I sort of shrugged it off. It was important to me to focus on a novel, after spending all that time on a movie, and I’d worked so hard to tell this particular story as a novel — I just couldn’t imagine re-working it as a film. So he let it go. And that, I thought, was that.
Cut to a year later. (In movie speak.) I was finishing the last few rounds of edits on the manuscript, and I gave a copy of the book to my friends and producers Nora & Ido. It wasn’t even really a “book” yet, just, like, a Microsoft Word file that was bright red with editorial notes. And they read it, and said, “you know, about this movie idea…” And I asked if they really thought this story could work on film, and they said, “yes.”
I still didn’t see it.
So we made a deal: I’d start writing a script, and we’d go through a few drafts together, and if at any point we decided there wasn’t a movie here, we’d just stop and do something else instead.
Cut to another year later. The book is locked. We’re on draft — I don’t even know — 5 or 6 of the script. It’s pretty different from the book. (I can’t tell you how just yet, or someone will murder me.) But I have this slightly unnerving feeling that the script might be… Kind of good? Its own thing, that doesn’t supplant the book, but presents its own unique take on the same essential story?
So we showed the script to Morten. And we showed the script to Teddy and his team at Black Bear, with whom we made TIG. And, to my enduring surprise, both confirmed within hours that I had been totally wrong the whole time. There definitely was a movie in there, and we were going to make it.
And now, per the link above, it’s going to star one of my favorite actors in the world.
Which leaves this as a bit of a note-in-progress on the making of the movie. The folder on my laptop says we’re currently on draft 11 of the script, which sounds about right. (TIG had… 20? 30? I’d be terrified to find out.) The novel comes out in three weeks. (My laptop shows 228 separate text files for the novel, organized into 9 basic drafts, for those of you who really want to stay up-to-date on my OCD.) I just got my first hardcover copy of the book in the mail last night, and I think it looks perfect. We’ll have some public events (readings and such) to announce any day now.
A few days ago I started a fresh folder for something that might be my third novel. Right now it’s just one lonely little file of notes. There will be more.