Adapt This April 22, 2013

“Don’t spend time at night with your subject, because he’ll tell his story too many times before going on camera.” – Producer and director Peter Raymont of White Pine Pictures, who did Shakes Hands With the Devil with Gen. Romeo Dallaire, among many other documentaries. Peter was one of the guests at ADAPT THIS, the TIFF Studio conference I was lucky enough to attend last week, with 15 other writers and 15 producers.

How to Keep Your Day Job, adapted from the story by Rebecca Rosenblum. Written by Lesley Krueger, directed by Sean Frewer, produced by Lea Marin.

How to Keep Your Day Job, adapted from the story by Rebecca Rosenblum. Written by Lesley Krueger, directed by Sean Frewer, produced by Lea Marin.

TIFF Studio is launching a series of career development workshops for the Canadian film industry, and in the spirit of sharing, here are some of the valuable quotes and insights from last week:

Isabelle Fauvel, development adviser at Initiative Film in France: biopics are  trending down because of the increasing number of lawsuits attached to the genre.

More from Peter Raymont: “Enhanced books” are on their way up, non-fiction e-books issued or re-issued with film clips and other visuals. Peter is working with David Silcox on the re-issue of his wonderful book on artist Tom Thomson.

Chris Selak, executive vice-president of Lionsgate TV on their upcoming Netflix series, Orange is the New Black: Be careful working with composite characters. In the case of Orange, TV writers working under showrunner Jenji Kohan were adapting the fictionalized version of Piper Kerman’s story about her year in a woman’s prison.

For legal reasons, Piper had already created composite characters. And the writers faced a fascinating problem. They had to be careful that in fictionalizing the already fictionalized characters, they didn’t inadvertently create characters who were too close to the real-life originals. Legal pitfalls abound. Working with the author was their salvation.

Isabelle Fauvel: French producers don’t option books in order to block other producers from tackling the subject, though North Americans do. Peter Raymont: He advises it.

Rachael Horovitz, producer of Moneyball, quoting Mike Nichols quoting somebody or other: “People tell you who they are within five minutes of meeting them.”

Also from Rachael: “Manners are missing.” To loud agreement from the writers and producers attending.

More later. Including tips from Steven DeNure , president and COO of DHX Media….