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Reading the original books from which scripts are based, as preparation for the shoot (2 replies and 2 comments)

Shyam Ediriweera
3 months ago
Shyam Ediriweera 3 months ago

Hi Roger,

In many of the films that you've collaborated on, including The Goldfinch, No Country for Old Men, The Shawshank Redemption, the story and/or scripts for these films are based on a book - for example, in the case of No Country..., the script is based on the book of the same name by Cormac McCarthy.

Is reading the book upon which the screenplay for a film is based an essential part of your research and preparation for shooting the film?

I wonder if it can sometimes be challenging to "unsee" in your mind your interpretation of the story from this original book, if that differs significantly from the proposed script? Or do you find that such a process is vital to inform the conversations with the director and production designer for determining the ultimate visual and story parameters for the film?

Also, do you generally prefer to read the source book after you've read the script?

Thank you very much and kind regards

Shyam

Roger Deakins
3 months ago
Roger Deakins 3 months ago

I had already read 'No Country For Old Men' before I read the script. I believe I was sent 'The Goldfinch' as a book before the script was finished and the film project green lit. 'The Shawshank Redemption' was from a short story and I have not read that.

I Like reading and so I find it interesting to see how a book and a film adaption relate to one another. I wouldn't say reading the source material is essential but it can give a more rounded idea of a story and its setting. I found it very helpful reading the source book for the film 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford', which has the same title. That I book I would recommend reading regardless of the film as I would all Cormac McCarthy's work.

Shyam Ediriweera
3 months ago

Thank you for these insights Roger,
I'm reading No Country for Old Men at the moment, and thoroughly enjoying it - I'd forgotten how much books can provide such a secluded escape into another world.
The film feels very aligned and true to the book.
I must say that I could not have imagined such rich, cinematic landscapes of that region from reading the book alone. In this regard the film provides such monumental and striking landscapes that I find elevate the settings, with their barren beauty and harsh features, to becoming a more fundamental part, or character itself, of the story.
Can I trouble you to describe how you came to find these filming locations? Was it a very long location scouting process, or did you already have in mind to film around Marfa?

Jacob W.
3 months ago

Perhaps Roger, you should read "Killers of the Flower Moon" and give Mr. Marty Scorsese a ring, seeing as he is going to do that one in Oakhlahoma next year...

Roger Deakins
3 months ago
Roger Deakins 3 months ago

I read 'Killers...' when it first came out.  I am glad the subject will get more attention with a film.

Yes, we scouted a number of different places for 'NCFOM', and settled on what we felt were the best but also the most practical. We scouted Eagle Pass and I would have loved to shoot there but you can only afford so much. As it was we only had a few days of 1st unit shooting in Marfa whilst the bulk of the shoot was out of Santa Fe.

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