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Meet the Teaching Artist: Book to Film Adaptation with Julia Spiro

by Writing Workshops Staff

6 months ago

Meet the Teaching Artist: Book to Film Adaptation with Julia Spiro

by Writing Workshops Staff

6 months ago

We're thrilled to introduce Julia Spiro to our community—a name that resonates with mastery in the world of storytelling, both in print and on screen. With best-selling novels like Someone Else’s Secret and Full under her belt, Julia has made notable inroads in the ever-evolving landscape of book-to-film adaptations.

Having adapted Someone Else’s Secret as a feature film, she's teamed up with renowned producer Denise di Novi, weaving her expertise from a rich tapestry of experience: from her tenure at Creative Artists Agency, to roles in Universal Studios and Warner Bros Pictures. As a former Vice President of Production and Development at Warner Bros, Julia was instrumental in the production of A Star is Born and Kong: Skull Island.

For authors aspiring to see their works come alive in cinema, Julia's upcoming seminar on Book to Film Adaptation for Writers is not to be missed. This seminar delves deep into the intricate process of transforming written narratives into compelling screenplays—a task that requires more than just truncating a book.

Julia promises to impart wisdom on how to reenvision a story through the cinematic lens, focusing on dialogue-driven narratives, visual storytelling, and the quintessential screenplay structure. From pitching your screenplay effectively to understanding why certain scenes work in books but not movies, Julia will cover a plethora of topics essential for any writer looking to venture into the realm of film.

Hi, Julia. Please introduce yourself to our audience.

Hello! I’m a novelist, screen writer, and recovering film studio executive. I also moonlight as a mom to a wild toddler.

What made you want to teach this specific class? Is it something you are focusing on in your own writing practice? Have you noticed a need to focus on this element of craft?

I wanted to teach this class because I so often hear from authors that they want to explore adapting their books into screenplays but don’t know where to start. I have experience as the writer and also as the producer, so I’m uniquely suited to guide script-curious writers through this journey.

Give us a breakdown of how the course is going to go. What can the students expect? What is your favorite part about this class you've dreamed up?

I will start by telling you in on my background working in the film industry and then to writing full time. We’ll talk about what I looked for in a great book-to-film adaptation when I was a studio executive, and why some books work better as films than others. Then we will get into more of the specifics of screenplay structure and I’ll give you helpful, applicable, constructive tips on how to turn your book into a well written, commercial script. We’ll also briefly touch on how to pitch your script and position it in a saturated marketplace.

What was your first literary crush?

The actual island in The Island of the Blue Dolphins. I fantasized about that place! (No wonder I live on an island now…).

What are you currently reading?

Yellowface by RF Kuang

How do you choose what you're working on? When do you know it is the next thing you want to write all the way to THE END?

I always start with a character first. Then I build the story around them. It has to be a character I’m willing to spend six months with. At least!

Where do you find inspiration?

I set all my books on Martha’s Vineyard, where I live. So I find inspiration in my day to day life.

What is the best piece of writing wisdom you've received that you can pass along to our readers? How did it impact your work? Why has this advice stuck with you?

Write what you know. Write in your voice. There’s only one of you. Everyone else is taken! Your best writing will come when you let yourself be you. Readers want authenticity. Once you stop trying to write the way you think you’re supposed to and let yourself write what you know, you’ll find that writing just might even become easier.

What is your favorite book to recommend on the craft of writing? Why this book?

I actually am not one to read a lot of instructional books on writing. The most helpful thing for me is to find a fellow writer friend or join a group (or a class like this!) so you can have a conversation with other writers and get personal advice on what works and doesn’t work for them.

Bonus question: What’s your teaching vibe?

Specific and constructive with LOTS OF LAUGHS!

Learn More About Working with Julia:

You can learn more about Julia's upcoming Book to Film Adaptation Zoom Seminar for Writers, and sign up now.

Instructor Julia Spiro is the author of two best-selling novels, Someone Else’s Secret and Full, both published by Lake Union. Both books have been optioned for film. Julia adapted Someone Else’s Secret herself for producer Denise di Novi (Little Women, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) and they are in the process of securing a director. Her forthcoming book, Such a Good Mom, will be published by Macmillan. Previously, Julia worked in the film industry, first at Creative Artists Agency, then at a Universal Studios based production company, and eventually at Warner Bros Pictures, where she was a Vice President of Production and Development. There, she oversaw many films, including A Star is Born, Ocho, Tomb Raider, and Kong: Skull Island.

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