Writing Paper Planes – The Movie And The Book (a Guest Blog from author Steve Worland)

Author Steve Worland

Writing a novel is more difficult than writing a screenplay.

Why do I think this?

Two words.

Word count.

My three action novels run between eighty to one hundred thousand words each. A typical screenplay? Twenty thousand, if that. I had one horror script come in at sixteen thousand a few years back. So, obviously, that means the time investment is very different too, about a year for a book versus three months for a screenplay, though if you get your skates on you should probably knock it over a lot quicker than that.

Also the prose of a screenplay is much simpler than a novel. Scripts are all about being brief and succinct. You want it to be easy to read so there’s no reason for a producer to put it down and move on to the next project on the pile. And it’s not like you need much description anyway, unless you’re detailing an important element of the story. If the hero drives a ‘beaten up ute’ then that’s all you need to write. Any more description is superfluous. The director and production designer will do the rest.

Now what about money I hear you ask. Yes, screenwriting pays quite well, certainly compared to what you make if you’re a first time novelist.

So why would you ever write anything but a screenplay?

quickBecause getting a novel published by a major house, as difficult as it is, and it is extremely difficult, is a whole lot easier than getting a movie made, even one with a low budget. Getting any movie into production is, in its own way, a miracle. And if you write action adventure stories like me, which cost a fortune to produce, well, it’s even harder. I can write anything in a novel, a formula one car driving at three hundred kilometres per hour, upside down, on the roof of a French motorway tunnel (that’s in Quick, my latest book by the way), or a Space Shuttle landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Pacific Ocean (that’s in Velocity, my first book) and not have to worry about the cost. In a movie those sequences would have a producer in your ear immediately: ‘I mean — does it really need to be a Space Shuttle, Steve? We have enough money for a Cessna. Can it be a Cessna?’

And then there is control. As a novelist you have a great deal and can mostly do as you please, though I would always urge new writers to listen to the sage advice of their experienced editors, publishers and agents, whereas in the film business the screenwriter is the low man on the totem pole whose importance to the project falls somewhere after the director, the producer, the other producer, the other other producer (who is often the first producer’s half brother) and, always, the star. A big part of your job as a screenwriter is to juggle the disparate story and character ideas of that group and then finesse a solution that will make the script work and everyone happy.

This was something that, when I was starting out as a screenwriter, I enjoyed. I loved to take stories from the page to the screen. But the reality is that you don’t get a chance to make a movie very often and when you do it can take a long time before you see it at the cinema. You are lucky to get one made every couple of years. You can be writing all the time but the percentage of screenplays that actually get up is extremely low. So that means you can write an amazing story but if the German tax money falls through or the star is offered something more lucrative or the director bails over creative differences with the producer (and his half brother) the movie can keel over. The thing about screenplays is that you can write something you think is wonderful and, literally, no more than eight people may ever read it. Screenplays, unfortunately, don’t have value to the public as reading material, unless somebody wants to see how one’s written so they can write their own.

paper-planesSo, considering this screenplay/novel conundrum, it was interesting that with my latest project I had the opportunity to write both. A screenplay and a novel, in that order. It often happens the other way around but not with Paper Planes, an idea my co-writer and the film’s director Rob Connolly had a number of years ago. At the time we both had young children who, we realised, had not seen any Australian children’s films. (It was before Red Dog). That was a shock to us because, when we were kids growing up in the 70s and 80s, we saw Australian films regularly, everything from Storm Boy to Crocodile Dundee to The Man From Snowy River to BMX Bandits to Fatty Finn to Blue Fin. They were a part of our lives.

But that wasn’t the case with our daughters. For many reasons, some economic, some creative, some cultural, Australian films don’t have that kind of traction in the marketplace any more. So we wanted to see if we could change that and offer up a genuinely entertaining family film for an Australian audience. After all, if Aussie kids aren’t watching Aussie movies when they’re young how can we expect them to watch them as adults?

So it was my job to not only co-write the screenplay but to novelise it into a book children would embrace. There were two major jobs to do: flesh out the prose from the succinct and sparse language of the screenplay and find a writing style that kids could hook into.

As the Paper Planes movie runs ninety minutes you only have time to include the most exciting and emotionally satisfying parts of the story, so the aim of the Paper Planes novel is to give the readers the hero’s journey — a young Aussie bloke making new friends, clashing with powerful rivals and coming to terms with his family’s past as he attempts to create a paper plane that will compete with the best in the world — then flesh out the characters and backstory to add a little more depth while making sure the story is a satisfying read for those who haven’t (yet!) seen the film.

SamI’ve been writing action adventure novels for adults for the last couple of years so I though writing a book for young readers would be a doddle. I was so wrong. It was a real challenge to alter my style. I really had to stretch. Mainly I was mindful that I didn’t want to speak down to the kids. I also had to make sure my cultural references are spot on. It ultimately came down to practice. Doesn’t it always? Thankfully I had a wonderful team at Penguin Young Readers to guide me and point out the pitfalls before I stumbled into any large, unseen crevices.

One element of the process I didn’t realise would take so long and be so complex was organising the book’s ‘added extras’, specifically the section of colour photos from the film. For some reason I thought it would be simple but getting clearances from all the actors and photographers was a huge undertaking that took months. The book’s other ‘added extras’ include a Q&A with the Rob who talks about directing the film and a foreword by the film’s star Ed Oxenbould (whose uncle was the lead in the aforementioned Fatty Finn, if you can believe it). My favourite ‘added extra’ in the book are the folding and throwing instructions for a paper plane. There’s something about seeing the film that makes you want to fly a paper plane immediately, so hopefully the readers will feel the same after they finish the book.

As I said before, movies take a long while to get made so by the time Paper Planes hits theatres on January 15th, Rob and my daughters will be four years older than the little girls who inspired us to tell the story in the first place.

Even though they’re approaching their teens we’re sure they’ll love the movie, and the book, as much as we do.

Grab your copy of Steve Worland’s Paper Planes here

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Steve Worland co-wrote the screenplay for the Australian family film Paper Planes with its director Robert Connolly, whose previous work includes Tim Winton’s The Turning and Balibo.

Steve has written scripts for Working Title and Icon Productions, worked in script development for James Cameron’s Lightstorm, wrote Fox Searchlight’s Bootmen, which won five Australian Film Institute awards and worked on the Hugo award winning sci-fi series Farscape.

He is the author of the action-adventure novels Velocity, Combustion and Quick and recently novelised Paper Planes.

For more from Steve, check out his website www.steveworland.com, and catch him on twitter at @StevenWorland

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paper-planesPaper Planes

by Steve Worland

One paper plane flies straight and fast and true. Dylan’s.

Twelve-year-old Dylan Webber lives in outback Western Australia in a small country town. When he discovers he has a talent for folding and flying paper planes, Dylan begins a journey to reach the World Junior Paper Plane Championships in Japan.

Along the way he makes unlikely new friends, clashes with powerful rivals and comes to terms with his family’s past before facing his greatest challenge – to create a paper plane that will compete with the best in the world.

Steve Worland brings you the exciting, heartwarming story of Paper Planes, adapted from the award-winning family film that features a cast of Australia’s finest actors, including Sam Worthington, Deborah Mailman, David Wenham and Ed Oxenbould.

Grab your copy of Steve Worland’s Paper Planes here

Absolutely Fabulous News!

We’ve all heard the news and now we are SO excited!

Aren’t we?

Well, if you haven’t already heard there may be an Absolutely Fabulous film released this year!

ab_fab_-thumb-300x418I have loved this show for so long, I can’t even remember when I started watching it. My mother always hated it but my grandfather adored it, he saw things my way. I think what we both loved about Absolutely Fabulous was how over-the-top and funny it was, yet it was still a sharp commentary on what happens when you hate the life you’re stuck with and will do anything to make it, well, Absolutely Fabulous!

Who doesn’t love a mother trying to hold onto her youth by trying every single diet ever mentioned, wearing ill-fitting clothes by the hippest designers out there, constantly re-decorating her apartment and trying anything new that comes her way! Let’s be honest, you are only as young as you feel, so I applaud you Eddy!

As for Eddy’s daughter, Saffy, who has to look after her own mother and try as she might to make sure Eddy doesn’t get too carried away, I can relate. Sometimes I feel like the parent when I’m dealing with my mother’s life.

Oh, I must mention Patsy. Eddy’s best friend (at times) who encourages Eddy through all her antics because she herself wants to live and love life forever but can’t do it by herself!

Let’s hope the movie doesn’t disappoint!


Now let’s get down to some of the biggest romance books coming out in 2015. We think they are going to be Absolutely Fabulous, and we think Patsy and Eddy would feel the same way.

hard-to-come-byHard to Come By
by Laura Kaye

Caught between desire and loyalty…

Derek DiMarzio would do anything for the members of his disgraced Special Forces team–sacrifice his body, help a former teammate with a covert operation to restore their honor, and even go behind enemy lines. He just never expected to want the more ….

 Grab a copy of Hard to Come By here


quarterback-drawQuarterback Draw
Play-By-Play Series : Book 9
by Jaci Burton

Grant Cassidy knows how to be a football star – Flash that dazzling smile, throw the winning pass, get the girl. But while the hot quarterback loves the game and the lifestyle, no woman has come close to catching his heart. Then he matches wits with a smart, gorgeous model, and Grant finds himself wanting more than a fling. Supermodel Katrina Koslova might live in a world of glitz and camera flashes, but she works hard to provide more…

Grab a copy of Quarterback Draw here


the-road-to-hopeThe Road to Hope
by Rachael Johns

Nurse Lauren Simpson is known in Hope Junction for the wrong reasons – and she’s over it. Watching the man she’s always loved marry someone else is the last straw – she decides to get out of Hope. But her resolve is tested when the hot new locum doctor arrives in town.

Doctor Tom Lewis also has skeletons in his closet – including a painful breakup and devastating family news. He’s hit the road with his vintage ute and surfboard, to travel the outback and live in the moment. When Tom and Lauren more…

Grab a copy of The Road to Hope here


the-secrets-of-sir-richard-kenworthyThe Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy
by Julia Quinn

Sir Richard Kenworthy has less than a month to find a bride. He knows he can’t be too picky, but when he sees Iris Smythe-Smith hiding behind her cello at her family’s infamous musicale, he thinks he might have struck gold. She’s the type of girl you don’t notice until the second-or third-look, but there’s something about her, something simmering under the surface, and he knows she’s more…

Grab a copy of The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy here


cartelCartel
Cartel Trilogy : Book 1
by Lili St. Germain

How much is a life worth?

I grew up in Colombia, the daughter of a wealthy drug lord. I lived a life of extravagance, until one day a drug run went horribly wrong and everything came crashing down around us.

I was given away. A payment for a debt. The Gypsy Brothers Motorcycle Club became my new owners, and I did everything I could to survive.

But falling in love with more…

Grab a copy of Cartel here


Match Pointematch-pointe
by Indigo Bloome

The sizzling new erotic romance from the internationally bestselling author of Destined to Play.

Eloise Lawrance, a beautiful and dedicated ballerina, is on the cusp of achieving her dreams when her career is abruptly left in tatters. Enigmatic gambling tycoon Caesar King approaches her with an alluring proposition she can’t refuse – to dance as inspiration for the top-ranked men’s tennis player for two years.

Cleverly manipulated by more…

Grab a copy of Match Pointe here


And to celebrate the world (person) behind Absolutely Fabulous, here is Jennifer Saunders’ story!

bonkersBonkers : My Life
by Jennifer Saunders

She’s been in two of the most popular double acts in TV history. As the Saunders one out of French and Saunders, she gave the world one of its longest-lasting, most-loved comedy partnerships. And in Ab Fab’s Eddie and Patsy she created two hilarious monsters we’ve taken to our hearts.

Bonkers is the story of how it all came about. Or at least the bits she recalls. The rest she made up. Either way, it’s all more…

 

 

 

 

And to finish this blog here are scenes from Absolutely Fabulous!

PHOTOS: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt at the première of ‘Unbroken’

Big thanks to HarperCollins Australia for the invitations to the première of Angelina Jolie’s new film Unbroken. In particular Kelly Fagan and Kate Mayes. The film is based on the book, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand which is an account of the life of Louis Zamperini – Olympian, bombardier, castaway, prisoner of war and inspiration. Angelina Jolie directed and produced Unbroken which was filmed in NSW and Queensland, Australia.

Louis Zamperini’s life story is one of extraordinary hardship, which makes for some tense viewing, but his indomitable spirit leaves you cheering for each of his small victories. This is a movie for those who want to regain their faith in the human spirit and for those who just like a good movie.

Unbroken is on general release in Australia on 15th January 2015 which gives everyone time to… READ THE BOOK!

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9780008108342Unbroken

by Laura Hillenbrand

The incredible true story of Louis Zamperini – Now a major motion picture

On a May afternoon in 1943, a US bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean. After an agonising delay, a young lieutenant finally bobbed to the surface and struggled aboard a life raft.

So begins one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War. The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini. As a boy, he turned to petty crime until he discovered a remarkable talent for running, which took him to the Berlin Olympics. But as war loomed, he joined up and was soon embroiled in the ferocious battle for the Pacific.

Now Zamperini faced a journey of thousands of miles of open ocean on a failing raft, dogged by sharks, starvation and the enemy. Driven to limits of endurance, Zamperini’s fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would depend on the strength of his will…

Grab a copy of Unbroken here

New teaser trailer for Insurgent released!

insurgent

Spoil yourself…

Insurgent

Divergent Series : Book 2

I have done bad things. I can’t take them back, and they are part of who I am.

Tris has survived a brutal attack on her former home and family. But she has paid a terrible price.

Wracked by grief and guilt, she becomes ever more reckless as she struggles to accept her new future.

Yet if Tris wants to uncover the truth about her world, she must be stronger than ever… because more shocking choices and sacrifices lie ahead.

Spoil yourself, grab your copy of Insurgent here

 

First Trailer for the Fifty Shades of Grey Movie is here – What do you think?

Is your Inner Goddess pleased with the first look at the Fifty Shades of Grey movie?

Steven Spielberg to direct Roald Dahl’s The BFG

It’s official. A Big Friendly Giant is coming to a cinema near you.

Filmmaker Steven Spielberg is set to adapt Roald Dahl’s classic children’s book The BFG for the big screen.

The house was absolutely silent. No voices came up from downstairs. There were no footsteps on the floor above either.

The window behind the curtain was wide open, but nobody was walking on the pavement outside. No cars went by on the street. Not the tiniest sound could be heard anywhere. Sophie had never known such a silence.

Perhaps, she told herself, this was what they called the witching hour.

The witching hour, somebody had once whispered to her, was a special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up was in a deep deep sleep, and all the dark things came out from hiding and had the world to themselves.

Production on the movie is expected to begin early next year, with a planned release in 2016.

The BFG was previously turned into an animated TV film in 1989.

It’s the latest book by Roald Dahl to receive the Hollywood treatment. Check out some memorable clips from other adaptations like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda and Wes Anderson’s brilliant Fantastic Mr Fox.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Matilda

Fantastic Mr Fox

What would you pay to have a role in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay?

US online auction house Charitybuzz is giving fans of The Hunger Games the chance to appear in the The Hunger Games: Mockingjay.

The first item, a non-speaking role for the movie, is estimated to be worth $10,000. Whoever wins will be given time to meet some of the actors and crew working on the film. Bids will be accepted until March 27th.

This is the opportunity of a lifetime! You will have a chance to be a non-speaking extra on the set of the highly anticipated movie, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, which is currently filming in Atlanta, GA, through April 18th. You’ll hang out with the actors (no guarantee to meet the principals) and key crew while you have this amazing experience.

The second item, a visit to the set of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, is valued at $5,000. Producer Jon Kilik will serve as an escort for the winner and one friend. Bidding ends on March 20th.

Witness movie making live and in person on the set of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. You and a friend will be the special guests of Producer Jon Kilik, who will escort you around the set, let you listen in on the actors’ scenes, personally introduce you to some the cast and key members of the crew, and take you to lunch so you can pick his brain about The Hunger Games and being an award-winning movie producer (Babel, Hunger Games, A Bronx Tale, Malcolm X, Dead Man Walking and many more.)

So how big a fan are you? Would you be willing to fork out the big cash to have this once in a lifetime experience? Let us know in the comments below.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland

Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark.

Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a “Victors Tour” of the districts.

Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) – a competition that could change Panem forever.

Grab a copy of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire here

The Hunger Games

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks

Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her younger sisters place and must rely upon her sharp instincts when shes pitted against highly trained Tributes who have prepared their entire lives.

If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Grab a copy of The Hunger Games here

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