The business of film
The business of film

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The business of film

2.4 From idea to screenplay

So far, the course has explored the many ways that films come about. Now it’s time to look at a real example as it came to fruition.

In this video clip, Ollie Madden, the producer of the case study film, Spooks: The Greater Good, and the writers talk about some of the challenges they faced in adapting a long-running, extremely popular BBC TV show into a film. When the show was brought to an end by the producers in 2011 they started to talk about the feature film. The feature film was eventually released in May 2015.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 4 Ollie Madden talks about developing a screenplay
Skip transcript: Video 4 Ollie Madden talks about developing a screenplay

Transcript: Video 4 Ollie Madden talks about developing a screenplay

OLLIE MADDEN
So once we come up with, well decided that we wanted to make a feature film based on Spooks, the TV show, the first thing we had to do was come up with a premise, or a core idea that we felt honoured the DNA of the TV show, and made it such a popular show, but I really felt truly cinematic, and theatrical, and worthy of a cinematic experience. So the majority of the creative time we spent on the project to begin with was working on the premise, working on that story arc. And we worked on an outline or a treatment for a number of months until that felt robust and interesting.
 The challenge was coming up with a story that felt big enough for the cinema, and also wasn't covering territory that had already been dealt with in the show over the 100 episodes that it ran for. And once we'd signed off on that the boys then worked on the screen play.
MAN 1
Qasim's escape was sanctioned by someone at the very top of the service, by one of the people who asked you to track me down. That's why I had to disappear.
MAN 2
You had Qasim. You let him go.
MAN 1
 I had no choice. He's our only connection to the trader. Once he's in the system he'll be silenced.
MAN 2
He's planning an attack. If they can't stop him it'll be on you.
MAN 1
This is bigger than Qasim, Will. Someone wants to destroy the service itself.
JONATHAN BRACKELY
It's quite an odd situation with Spooks in particular, because it's an adaptation of a TV show. So we had to keep certain things about our audience love about the TV show, and take those into the feature film version, but at the same time making it a distinctive feature film experience.
SAM VINCENT
There was one particular example of how you have to adapt your approach, the moment where Will tracks Harry to Berlin with June in tow. There was actually- when they got to Berlin, there was kind of quite a long bridging sequence of how exactly they go about finding Harry, various kinds of contacts that they meet, and then also some sort of work on Will and June's relationship, and some scenes that happened there between them. And there was nothing wrong with it per se, and if it was a TV episode, you'd absolutely have it, because it was quite characterful, it was quite talky, but in a film it was completely wrong.
 In a film, you sometimes need to make these big vaulting, sweeping moves, driven by the sort of emotion, and action and scale.
MAN 1
Colonel.
WOMAN
Hello, Harry
MAN 1
Alexander Platts, northeast corner,
by the subway, 11:00 AM.
WOMAN
Why there? We have a safe house.
MAN 1
Call it nostalgia.
WOMAN
Did you receive your gift?
MAN 1
Yes, very thoughtful.
WOMAN
Don't forget to bring the archive.
MAN 1
Don't forget to bring his wife.
MAN 1
How did you find me?
MAN 2
There's only one place to run a meet in Berlin. You used to tell me, northeast corner of Alexander Platts, open sight lines, and multiple exits.
MAN 1
Undone by sentimentality.
OLLIE MADDEN
We must have done, in the end, 25-26 draughts before the final draft that we ended up going into production on, which is not uncommon, and a natural part of the process of refinement.
End transcript: Video 4 Ollie Madden talks about developing a screenplay
Video 4 Ollie Madden talks about developing a screenplay
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