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on book-movie conversion

March 23rd, 2006 | 1 min read

By Keith E. Buhler

Nicholas Pileggi, on converting a book to a movie:

"The book is the book. You gotta remember. The book is the book. I think a lot of writers miss out on this. You write the book. I am the director of the book. I mean I should have a shot person, a beraue, a writing crop. I am the monstroheim of my book, that's my book. I put the music in if I want music, I cast the book, that I describe the characters. The movie has nothing to do with the book, except [the book] is the basis.

But the vision of it and the mood of it and the color, the real casting for the movie, all of that is the real work of the director. What the author has to do, since you already own the book, that's yours, its on a shelf, no one can touch that – you have to, if you're smart, I think, help in every way you can, to allow that director to fulfill his vision of your your book can be turned into a different art form. It's a different artform.

You can't say, "Wait a minute, that wasn't in my book, I want it in the movie." Get out of there! You can do all you want in the book… leave the movie alone, let the director do it. Now it's easy for me to say 'cause I'm working with Martin Scorsese. A lot of directors maybe aren't up to it, and a lot of writers kind of, ready to throw themselves off bridges because of that. I had the opposite experience, it was really a fascinating experience to watch."

-Nicholas Pileggi, Author of best-selling novel "Wise Guys" and co-writer of the Academy Award Winning Motion Picture "Goodfellas"