I’ve just now finished my education in the class called Films Today.
I began studying years ago, and now at last I’ve graduated. Why, you may ask, did it take me four decades to finish the course? I hate to say this, but the reason is: I’m slow. Year after year, I thought a story that so many book-readers enjoyed could be a good motion picture (of course once it had a fine screenwriter, an excellent director and a cast who loves the action).
My instructors kept reminding me, “Money! Don’t forget, it takes money to make a movie!” I thought, of course it takes a little money to help it to happen, but when it came to a test for me to understand this, I failed. So many books I’ve written, I thought, so many of them would make terrific movies!
A couple times there was the money, but as you know, that doesn’t guarantee a good film. The source of the trouble, was me. I chose a wrong person to direct the film, or I didn’t recognize or object when scenes were included instead of being cut.
So I kept on coming to class for the pleasure of the subject, yet I kept on failing every test. Now I’ve learned that failing, is graduating.
It used to be that there could have been a wonderful film of Illusions. Just a few million dollars, some biplanes, some fields for them to fly into, a few actors and a script, then just thirty thousand feet of film or so, and it would be finished!
Not now. For the last half-year, I’ve talked with screenwriters, directors, producers, studios and independents, foreign movie studios, actors — and nothing has happened. I’ve been told that the film industry is not anywhere it used to be — the old film industry, they told me, is gone.
Nowadays, motion picture projects need huge amounts of money, in the first place, and in the second, the source of the money needs to be certain that the film will be successful. The best way to do that, it seems, would be to film a sequel of a picture that was a success in the first place.
Deciding not to shoot a sequel, to make an original film even after a successful book, is to make a gamble with one’s money. To make an original film that is not intended to appeal to teenage viewers today is a Big Gamble. To make an original film that is not intended to appeal to teenagers and computer graphics now is a Very Big Gamble. To make an original film that is not intended for teenagers, does not use computer graphics and doesn’t smash things into little pieces along the way, is a Major Very Very Big Gamble.
If you’re an invester in motion pictures today, then, would you choose to put your money into a sequel, or into a MVVBG? Once in a while your bet will pay off after a long time (The Princess Bride). Usually, though, the money will rise to vanish above the cooking of its own production.
So in the last half-year I had all these people, even apparently a couple of major stars (though they never spoke a word to me) mildly interested in the film of Illusions. Nothing happened. Then by itself, I realized my story would never be made until the film industry changed the way it makes and distributes motion pictures. That means, to the best of my knowledge, that the book Illusions will never be a film.
Now I’m content. The book continues to do well, finding readers all around the world. Only a few of our major novels have whispered their stories as well or better than this little book has done it.
So here’s an announcement: The film of Illusions (shy of some miracle) will never happen in our lifetimes. I might be born, say fifty years from now, as president of a major film studio, and make the gamble then. Illusions could be a huge success (or go bankrupt) by my bet on the edge of a spinning dime… (Oh. In fifty years, there won’t be dimes.) …on the edge of a spinning thousand-credit coin. No miracles required. Just a few people who know it could be fun, and their money, waiting on the table.