Wendy Wheeler (zainybrain) wrote in script2screen,
Wendy Wheeler

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Screenwriter Extraordinaire Andrew Davies Speaks

As I posted earlier, in happy squee-age, Andrew Davies came to the University of Texas to be interviewed, a free event for the Plan II students and anyone else who wanted to attend. J4 was very accommodating to me -- I insisted we be there an hour early because I was SURE the line would be around the building.

But we were the first two there. Ha! Got to sit right down near Davies, however, so, kewl. And by the time 7:30 rolled around, there were about 280 people in the 300-seat theater, so I wasn't far off on the numbers, just on the timing. Some random statements from this charming, enthusiastic, extremely capable adapter (my personal favorite for his PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, BLEAK HOUSE, LITTLE DORRIT, ROOM WITH A VIEW, etc.):
  • He didn't start writing screenplays until he was 50 (!). He'd written fiction and children's books before then. Now he's 72. Or as he says it, "Seventy-two some of the time."
  • He gets a sort of personal relationship in his head with the authors he's adapting, and would love to meet them. He remarked about Mr. Darcy's first proposal in P&P that the speech is given in its details at first. Then she launches into expository summation. And he said aloud, "Oh Jane!"
  • He finds himself deeply immersed in the POV of young women. He sometimes feels like he is a young woman ("and what that can say about me certainly can't be good"). When the unfairness of life for a young woman of the Regency period becomes all personal to him, he has to remind himself that he's NOT indeed a young woman seeking a good husband.
  • He knows he has a sweet deal when he writes the BBC mini-series because, unlike the 90-120 minutes of a movie, he gets 6 to 8 hours. LITTLE DORRIT was an 8-hour event.
  • He has a list of authors he wishes he could adapt. Many are American that he named: Edith Wharton, for one.
  • He doesn't do a lot of historical research for the period dramas (btw, not his favorite term for them). He's written so much about Regency and Victorian eras, etc., that all that background has seeped into his consciousness. Plus he works with the awesome (love her books myself!) Jenny Uglow in getting the period details right.
  • His description of his home (Warwick? London?) which has a home-office in the attached flat next door that he also bought is fascinating. They broke the wall out of the back of the built-in closet in his bedroom to get him to the closet of the room on the other side. Most of the time he swims through the clothes to "go to work" and then swims through the clothes to come back "home" again. Much like a magical wardrobe!
  • One of the things he will do, especially with adapting Dickens and his casts of dozens, is find the person who mostly carries the plot. He'll focus more scenes on them than on others. Like for LITTLE DORRIT, instead of starting with 60 pages of intrigue between two criminals in French jail, he starts with Amy Dorrit leaving the debtor's prison to interview for a job.
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