Guest Post by Brett Matthew Williams
We asked Brett…
How is storytelling with (only) words different than that of visual/screenplays/special effects of TV storytelling?
The Unspoken Pact: a term I’ve coined for the phenomenon of trading ones active imagination for the cost of watching an adaptation, or original programming on ones television or computer. I’m speaking of the fine details. Take for example the climactic scene in the final Lord of The Rings book. When one reads the book, they can picture Gollum looking, walking, or even sounding a certain way. But when someone watches that same scene in the 2003 movie, it’s stuck that way for good. There is no changing it the way we’re sometimes able to replace incorrect song lyrics in our head with the right ones after looking them up online. The scene is the way it is and that’s the unspoken pact that was made when you paid for the movie.
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I love the Beatles. Whether you love them or hate them there is within the hearts and minds of everyone aware of western popular culture an opinion on the Beatles. At their core they are just four British guys; George, Paul, John, & Ringo. Yet somehow they provoke strong emotional responses that turn grown men into pouty teenagers in either passionate defense, or avid crucifixion of the four men who were ‘Bigger than Jesus’. Then there’s the debate on who the ‘best’ member of the band was. Everyone has a personal favorite, even if they say that they don’t. I used to like John until he married that woman with one leg (Heather Mills). Now I question his choices… But I digress.
I mention the Beatles because just as people are passionate about that band in particular, so too will people fight tooth and nail to defend their favorite work of literature against any rendition of it on the small screen. Television has become a breeding ground for spiteful fandom waiting to rips its claws into the carcass of adapted works, pinpointing differences and variations on themes that aren’t to their tastes. And why not? Isn’t it a fan’s right to criticize their favorite works if they feel they aren’t up to the standard once set in the past? On screen the collaboration of numerous individuals, including set designers, costume designers, casting agents, prop masters, and a myriad of other individuals go into each and every bit of the imagined world presented within the camera’s scope. That level of escapist entertainment comes at the cost of a trade, one agreed upon the second you turn on your television, computer, etc. You’re trading your right of imagination to a crew of people that you will never meet for literally hundreds of hours of labor spent working on the smallest details of (for example) Middle Earth.
Falling in love with the characters you create is only natural, akin to how one feels about a beloved pet. But killing off, maiming, or otherwise seriously damaging an actor hired to portray that role can give them serious ego issues amongst their co-workers. Actors are another major equation in the difference between telling the same story in two different mediums. Speaking from personal experience as a former production assistant, there’s nothing like an angry actor who is currently going through a salary negotiation to screw up a writers season finale script. This is what makes adaptations especially such a tricky subject.
Storytelling via television allows for this same sort of emotional attachment, yet like a pet it demands more time. More episodes. More ad revenue. More pets on the head. Please.
A book will take your neglect. It will sit on a shelf unwanted for years until the magical day comes when your electricity goes out and you read that Time is Relative book everyone has been talking about. A book won’t ever be taken off of Netflix at the end of the month. Nor will a book ever accidently send selfies, post pictures of food, or spam you to play the newest online game with it.
A book is just a book. Simple. Pure. Regal.
The act of storytelling is a process that begins with an idea, grows with a steady stream of thought, and blossoms when the writer chooses to catalogue their knowledge for the world to enjoy. Although this varies greatly between the mediums of book and screen the responsibility of expectation is within each of us, the consumers, to manage at our own discretion.
About the Book Time is Relative
Meet Rolland Wright – a seventeen year old orphan living out of his car in rural Woodland Hills, California. Aside from grappling with the fact of being abandoned by his drunken father two years previous following his mothers mysterious murder, his life mostly revolves around finding a warm place to sleep at night. When one day he is attacked by men claiming to have killed his father, Rolland discovers a strange ability to slow the flow of time around him, beginning a journey that takes him to places outside of time, space, and eventually to the early 19th century to fight the sinister General Andrew Jackson. With the help of a rag-tag group of historical and mythical figures with various supernatural abilities of their own (Joan of Arc, Jesse James, etc) known as the Knights of Time, Rolland solves the mystery behind his mother’s murder, falls in love, battles the evil Edward Vilthe – reaper of souls, and finds a home of his own in the paradise known as Eden.
The Time is Relative series chronicles the origin story of the mythical figure Father Time, beginning with the award winning first novel, Time is Relative for a Knight of Time. All dates and events are historically accurate. The participants… maybe not.
About the Author
Brett Matthew grew up with a passion for both film and history. He began his career fresh out of high school as a Production Assistant/ football player on NBC Universal’s television series Friday Night Lights (of which he can often be seen in the first two seasons as a member of the championship team – Go Panthers!). He quickly moved on to serve as an Original Series intern with the USA Network in Studio City, California. Following work on shows like Monk, Psych, and Burn Notice, Brett returned home to Texas to continue his education, graduating with his degree in History from Texas State University. A proud Master Freemason, Brett thoroughly enjoys fantasy fiction, watching Netflix, running, baseball, Shakespeare, and spending time with his family and critters.