To make the film, pupils had first to read the whole book and then analyse one chapter in order to write the film script. Julia Jarman demonstrated how using words only the author enables the reader to hear, see and feel exactly what is happening. Julie Laslett, from Dramatic Media, explained how a film script works differently as it is written for the director, crew and actors who use their skills to translate it into the medium of film. A film script needs to convey the author’s intention but also allow for interpretation. Pupils discovered that where the majority of the novel text was descriptive narrative, the script was mostly dialogue and had far fewer words. They saw the novel’s opening paragraph reduced to just three words: interior, classroom, daytime. Challenged to show the passage of time in the film, and easily done by one sentence in the book, pupils had to be imaginative and think in visual images.
Impact in the Classroom
Pupils’ increased ability to communicate in different media was one of the most beneficial and long lasting outcomes of the project.
“The ability to compare novel text, script and film is a powerful learning tool,’ said Liz Wickins, Head of English. ‘It leads to in-depth textual analysis and understanding of the author’s craft. The pupils not only learn about film but they also learn about the text it comes from.”
The Book to Screen Resource
Recognising the value of the project, the school worked with Dramatic Media to produce the Book to Screen resource pack, which is now part of the school’s scheme of work.
Now available to other schools, this resource comprises the novel Ghost Writer, the film of chapter 11, a book containing the author’s plans, the author’s annotated text, the annotated film script, worksheets and lesson notes.
Since its launch, this resource has proved so successful that Ghost Writer has been reprinted twice. It is used in many schools and in Success For All UK’s Innovative Unique programmes for English.
"I chose Book to Screen because we wanted to include texts that are different from the norm and are of high interest to students of secondary age, but also accessible and challenging. The Book to Screen package meets this criteria very well, as the book on which it is based, Ghost Writer, is a great story and the package allows students to see the process of it being adapted to screen. The resource is quite unique in this way and the teaching opportunities that come out of it are numerous and diverse." Kathryn Russell, Training and Development Consultant SFA-UK (Success For All)