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Self-Adaptation

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So, you made a thing, and that thing is popular. Suddenly folks are hounding you to adapt it a film, TV series or whatever that they can make money from. And while you like the idea, you're more than a bit worried about Adaptation Decay, and not entirely sure you can trust the execs with your masterpiece.

So what do you do? Well, usually you'd have little choice in the matter outside what company you give permission to tamper with your work, after which they'll decide just how much they want you involved. But by some random miracle, you've got quite a bit more leverage than that or said company is surprisingly open to your suggestions. In which case, why do you need someone else to write the adaptation? You're a versatile guy, how hard could making the adaptation be? You know what bits are important and what can be cut, and how to make sure your favorite bits stay in. So you write it yourself.

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These are the results.


Examples:

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    Film - Live Action 
  • Clive Barker was exclusively a horror writer before becoming a film director. He has based several of his films on his earlier stories, such as Hellraiser (based on his novella The Hellbound Heart) and Lord of Illusions (based on his short story "The Last Illusion"). He also directed Nightbreed based on his book, Cabal.
  • William Goldman had experience writing for film, and so rewrote The Princess Bride himself, removing many of the (admittedly unfilmable) metatextual elements of his own accord and shifting the focus towards the fairy-tale parody angle, retaining the editor's notes about the story being read to him as a child as a different Framing Device. He also adapted Marathon Man from his own novel.
  • Ayn Rand wrote the screenplay for the adaptation of The Fountainhead, and had significant say in the creative process. Among other things, she absolutely insisted that Howard Roark's climactic monologue at the end of the film be reproduced from the novel in its entirety; it ended up being one of the longest monologues in cinematic history.
  • During the filming of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee used to come every day to the set but stopped after three weeks because by then she knew the movie would be fine without her.
  • Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola worked very closely to adapt The Godfather and build together the new storylines of the sequels.
  • Nicholas Pileggi served as Martin Scorsese's co-writer in two adaptations of his books, GoodFellas (based on Wiseguy) and Casino.
  • As of 2012, comedian Jerry Lewis has brought his original version of The Nutty Professor to Broadway; as well, as managing a CGI-animated sequel/remake to the original, produced exclusively for DVD.
  • Frank Miller was a co-director on Sin City, as Robert Rodriguez felt that being such a direct adaptation of the original comics (the visual compositions usually being directly lifted from the panels) meant that most of his directorial work had already been done for him by the creator.
  • Rómulo Gallegos was invited to work as the scriptwriter for the 1947 movie adaptation of his novel, Doña Barbara.
  • Stephen King made the movie Maximum Overdrive, loosely based on his own short story "Trucks" from Night Shift. He even released a trailer in which he directly addressed the viewer, boasting that if you want something done right, you've gotta do it yourself. It's the only movie based on his stories that he personally directed and reception was pretty negative, an opinion King himself later agreed with. By his own admission, he was also drugged out of his mind for most of the shoot.
  • J. K. Rowling was fairly actively involved in the creative decision making for the Harry Potter films, note  and writes the Fantastic Beasts sister series herself, albeit with Steve Kloves as a co-writer on the upcoming third one.
  • Tom Stoppard wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of his play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, and ended up directing it as well. Rather than seeking to keep everything the same, he had no hesitation about making substantial changes, adding new bits to take advantage of the new medium, and cutting out bits that no longer worked. He said in an interview that part of the reason he took the director's chair was that it "just seemed that I'd be the only person who could treat the play with the necessary disrespect."
  • Chris Roberts, creator of Wing Commander, wrote the story for and directed the movie.
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower was written and directed by Stephen Chbosky, who wrote the original novel.
  • William Peter Blatty produced and wrote The Exorcist, which was based on his novel of the same name. More directly, he directed The Exorcist III, based on his novel sequel Legion, at least in part out of his disdain for Exorcist II: The Heretic.
  • Gillian Flynn wrote the film adaptation of Gone Girl.
  • Holes: After Richard Kelly's screenplay for the film was rejected due to being an In Name Only adaptation set in a post-apocalyptic world, original author Louis Sachar wrote the final screenplay himself, keeping the film very faithful to the book.
  • Jordan Mechner, the creator of the Prince of Persia franchise, was the screenwriter for Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, doing the first two drafts of the script, and was on set during the filming. He is credited with writing the story.
  • An In-Universe example happens in Saving Mr. Banks, where P.L. Travers is given unprecedented creative control over the production of Mary Poppins by Walt Disney. Interestingly, this was the case in the actual production as well, though Travers was unhappy with the result.
  • In 1934 Alfred Hitchcock directed The Man Who Knew Too Much and then a remake in 1956.
  • Cecil B. DeMille directed the 1956, The Ten Commandments which was a remake of his own silent film from 1923.
  • Roger Corman remade some of his own movies:
    • He directed The Wasp Woman in 1960 and produced the 1995 remake.
    • He produced Death Race 2000, its remake, Death Race and all of its prequels.
    • He was an executive producer for the original 1980 Humanoids from The Deep and produced its 1996 remake.
    • He directed A Bucket of Blood and produced its 1995 remake.
    • He produced Forbidden World and its Dead Space remake.
  • Ernest Cline co-wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of his book, Ready Player One.
  • Ed Wood directed Necromania, based on his own novel, The Only House.
  • Enki Bilal wrote and directed Immortal based on The Carnival of Immortals comics he wrote.
  • Takashi Shimizu directed the Ju-on and it's American remake, The Grudge. He directed The Grudge 2 and was an executive producer on The Grudge 3.
  • Thea von Harbou wrote the screenplay for Metropolis, which was based on her book of the same name.
  • Astrid Lindgren was deeply involved in writing scripts for films based on her novels. This came about after she famously disowned the 1949 film adaptation of Pippi Longstocking.
  • Famously played with with Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, an adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factorynote . Although the screenplay is credited to Roald Dahl, much of his script was altered by ghostwriters, which included the addition of the "gobstopper test" in order to give the movie a villain (Slugworth) and a moral. He hated what had been done to his script so much that he (allegedly) stated in his will that the book's sequel, "Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator" would never be adapted into a movie.
  • Michael Haneke directed the original Austrian Funny Games and its English language Shot-for-Shot Remake.
  • Hans Petter Moland directed both In Order of Disappearance and its American remake Cold Pursuit.
  • David Rook wrote The White Colt in 1967, then wrote the screenplay for its 1969 film adaptation, Run Wild, Run Free.
  • Sam Raimi co-wrote and directed Darkman based on a short story that he wrote.
  • Peter Shaffer who wrote the play Amadeus made a screenplay of its film adaptation
  • Greg Rucka wrote the comic The Old Guard and the first screenplay and final rewrites for the film adaptation.
  • Peter Benchley wrote both the novel and the screenplay for The Island (1980).
  • Joe Ballarini wrote A Babysitter's Guide To Monster Hunting based on his trilogy of books.
  • Woody Allen adapted Play It Again, Sam from his play, while Shadows and Fog was based on his one-act play Death, which appears in the short story anthology book Without Feathers.
  • Ingmar Bergman adapted The Seventh Seal from his own play Wood Parting.
  • Dalton Trumbo directed only one film, an adaptation of his novel, Johnny Got His Gun.

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  • Chance Calloway, the creator of Pretty Dudes, was an author before he created the show, so he adapted his own scripts into prose for the novelization. The book was published under his pen name C.S.R. Calloway.

    Western Animation 
  • The scripts for the Peanuts specials, more often than not, would simply be ripped directly from the comic strips with minimal changes, so Charles Schulz was the lead writer by default. But Schulz had a lot of creative control, often writing any additional material as well, and many of the specials' trademarks — the jazz score, the casting of children, and the simplistic animation style — were his decisions.
  • Peter S. Beagle wrote the script for the animated movie adaptation of his novel The Last Unicorn. Due to a notorious case of "Hollywood accounting," his share of the profits was much smaller than would seem fair.
  • Aaron McGruder, creator of The Boondocks, also created the animated series based on them, and wrote every single episode of the first three seasons (though he was totally absent during the fourth and final season).
  • Scott Adams, creator of the long-running Dilbert, developed the animated series with Seinfeld producer Larry Charles and also co-wrote a majority of the episodes' scripts.
  • Jim Davis scripted all the Garfield TV specials that aired in the 1980s and early 1990s. It wasn't until Garfield and Friends that he allowed others to write his characters.
  • Winsor McCay directed cartoons based on comics that he wrote and drew like Dream of the Rarebit Fiend and Little Nemo.
  • A Doonesbury Special, based on the newspaper strip, was co-directed and co-written by creator Garry Trudeau.

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