“Cinéma Vérité”

52 Pick-up 2.0, #11, 3/17/2020

Beaner Krenk: “Is there a storyline that you’d like to see turned into a movie? Or an episode when Longmire relaunches (fingers-crossed)? I’m currently listening to An Obvious Fact and I’d love to see this one on screen.”

Hi Beaner,
Tough call. All my favorite authors are the ones who are able to summon up an entire, visual world in the reader’s mind’s eye, for lack of a better term a cinematic quality that allows you to experience a book as if the action is taking place on the big screen. Steinbeck is one who immediately comes to mind. I was fortunate enough to do an event at Pacific College in Monterey, California, and one of the payoffs was having lunch in Doc Rickett’s lab on Cannery Row. I remember sitting there eating pizza and drinking beer in the little shack backed up against the ocean and thinking—this is where it all happened–Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday. It was exactly the way Steinbeck had described it.

I’m always deeply moved whenever anybody compliments the novels, saying that they just unfold on the page in front of their eyes just like a movie. I guess, in a way that’s what I’m shooting for—putting you in that world to the point where you aren’t even aware that you’re reading a book.

There are some of the Longmire novels that are perhaps more cinematic than others, but the biggest problem is generally length. Longmire episodes are anywhere from forty-two minutes to a little over an hour. I remember meeting with the producers the first time and they said, “Your books don’t break down into a forty-two-minute episode very easily.”
I responded, “Thank goodness; if they did, you shouldn’t be reading them.”

Subsequently, they used bits and pieces of the books in the show, but not the stories in their entirety.

In a roundabout answer to your question, I guess the novellas Spirit Of Steamboat and The Highwayman would be the easiest to adapt in that they’re only about a hundred and fifty pages long. There are problems with both in that one of the major characters in Steamboat is Lucian, who they’ve killed off in the TV series. You could do the story as a flashback, but then you have to deal with the age adjustment that they did in the show, making the characters younger. I suppose you could make Lucian a Vietnam veteran rather than one from WWII, but a little of the societal aspect of the old B-25 pilot having bombed Tokyo and then risking his and Walt’s life to save a Japanese girl would be lost—but then again, you could make the girl Vietnamese.

The other novella, The Highwayman could work in that it’s only Walt and Henry in the bulk of the story, but the mysticism that comprises a great deal of the plot, not to mention the cataclysmic finale with the truck wreck would be expensive. Not that coming up with a vintage airplane and all the special effects in doing Steamboat would be any cheaper…

Another problem with filming The Highwayman would be the cost of filming in Wyoming in that I don’t think there are any tunnels like the ones in the Wind River Canyon anywhere other than Wyoming. Not that I have any problems filming in Wyoming, the problem being that we simply don’t have the infrastructure to film here the way they do in other states.

There are full length novels that I think would work in abbreviated versions like The Dark Horse, Junkyard Dogs, As The Crow Flies, Any Other Name, An Obvious Fact, or even the most recent Land Of Wolves… Interestingly enough, the one I hear that about the most is Hell Is Empty which the TV show partially used. Heck, I’ve still got the movie-length script I did for my first novel The Cold Dish, so who knows?

See you on the trail,


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