‘The Darkest Minds’ Movie Talk #11: The Adaptation Process

Every Monday and Friday we’re bringing you The Darkest Minds content leading up to the film’s Aug. 3 release.

Books and movies are two entirely different mediums. It’s why it’s virtually impossible for fans to be completely satisfied with a book-to-film or book-to-television adaptation. There are just some things that don’t work in film like they do in a book and vice versa.
So when it comes to The Darkest Minds movie, don’t think of it as a direct translation, because it’s not. It will not be a word-for-word, scene-for-scene replication of the book. If anything, think of this film as a companion to the book, providing a different perspective of this world. If The Darkest Minds movie can manage to capture the heart of Alexandra Bracken’s book, then it will be considered a successful adaptation. And that’s what we all want.
When it comes to book adaptations, it can be an eye-opening experience for authors as they get acquainted with the process of Hollywood. The first rule being that once you sign your rights over to a studio, there’s no need for the studio to involve you at all. Sometimes studios are smart enough to involve the author when it comes to being a creative consultant, but usually studios choose to move forward without the author’s involvement. (More on that in our previous TDM Movie Talk.)
While there have been plenty of horror stories when it comes to book adaptations, Bracken found the experience really fascinating, especially when it came to converting book scenes into scenes in a film.
“It really reinforced for me how flexible a narrative is,” Bracken told us, “and how you can accomplish kind of the same thing through — rather than adding scenes, condensing scenes or kind of changing the order of things.”
Bracken found the experience really informative and while there were changes made — including a couple she wasn’t a big fan of in the beginning — she insists that the changes were made for a good reason and this film protected the characters we all love. Which is what we all want.
“I thought it was fascinating, the whole process,” Bracken told us, “and I was not especially precious about them making changes as long as they had a good reason and they weren’t really changing the characters because I think the fans feel the most protective over the characters and their group and their relationship.”
Given how books and film are two different mediums, there are some things that are going to work better on screen and some that they’re going to need to change. For Bracken, she found the translation from book to screen quite fascinating from a storytelling perspective.
“I was talking to the film editor on the project and it was fascinating because as many similarities as there are between editing an actual book to editing a film,” she told us. “There are two completely different mediums, so something that works well in the book doesn’t necessarily work well on screen and vice versa. So there were a lot of cool things that they could do that it would’ve taken me like 15 pages to describe the characters doing, but it’s one shot and you get it and it’s so impactful.”
It also helps when you have a director like Jennifer Yuh Nelson, who the cast and crew, and Bracken herself, have praised for her warm energy, command, and vision. While Bracken didn’t have a final say in what happened in the film, Nelson made it a point to include her in this process. Because who knows this world and these characters and this story better than the woman that wrote it?
“I personally felt very heard and respected and she has made it a point to push to include me as much as possible,” Bracken said. “I just really respect and admire her and I’m really grateful that she was willing to come onto this project and that she understood it so well from the start and got the heart of the story.
“You hear these horror stories about like directors who are so aggressive and yell and that is the opposite of her style,” she added.

The Darkest Minds hits theaters on Friday, Aug. 3.

Stay tuned to Fangirlish every Monday and Friday for more The Darkest Minds Movie Talk leading up to the film’s release.

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