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J. K. Rowling Recounts Collaborative Relationship with "Potter" Screenwriter Steve Kloves for Written By Magazine

J.K. Rowling
Posted by: Edward
April 19, 2011, 08:08 PM

Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling has written for the Writer's Guild's Written by magazine about her collaborative relationship with "Potter" Film screenwriter Steve Kloves for their April/May issue.  The full piece, which can be read in its entirety via this link, details the 12-year-long "email correspondence" which resulted in seven adapted screenplays of Ms. Rowling's book series.  Rowling and Kloves began their work together following an early film production meeting in Los Angeles, California when the screenwriter shared his knowledge of the books and favorite character (Hermione) with the author.  The three-page article revisits a handful of moments throughout the 12-year correspondence which crafted the film's scripts, as well as details some of the moments in which Kloves was let in on secrets of the stories early, in order to ensure continuity of the story.

To read this fascinating piece by J. K. Rowling, please do click here!

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54 Comments

Lily___james_potter_thumb
948 Points

Just read it, it’s such a sweet article ;)
The two are just so smooth working together!

Posted by Miss Weasley on April 24, 2011, 11:38 AM report to moderator
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307 Points

critterfur, can you tell me a single time in the films where Hermione does something wrong? No. She never makes mistakes.
In the books she is not always perfect, but in the films it looks like she is the one who always saves the day.
Emma and Rupert have the tendency to play their character as if they were flawless, but in Hermione’s case is a bigger problem because she is helped by a terrible script.
I have nothing against the scritwriter, but I have never understand why they hired him. There are so many great scriptwriters out there, they could have made these films to be great, instead of just good or acceptable.

Posted by ethanHP on April 24, 2011, 01:56 PM report to moderator
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I’ve been a Harry Potter fan since before book 3 came out (so before the movies) and I have to say, J.K. Rowling is oh so impressed with Steve Kloves because the adaptations could have been a lot worse than they were. A lot lot lot worse. If you read the article, you see that they pair met with a studio exec who had not read the books, and didn’t think he needed to. At that time there were great fears of a “Hogwarts High” and the setting being transplanted to America. People who don’t read Harry Potter think the books are about an orphan boy who discovers he’s a wizard, gets to leave behind a miserable life with his foster family, and becomes popular at wizard school and saves the day. Which is all true, but doesn’t capture the essence of the books and it would have been highly likely that without the right people, those would have been the ONLY things preserved in the movies, making sequels impossible. But Kloves had read the books, loved them, and wanted to get them on the screen as written by Rowling to the best of his ability.

Note that Jo says Kloves thinks like a writer— anyone who has written fanfic has learned this stuff too- the need to realistically get people from one situation to the next, and to keep people in character when you have to change stuff around— and Kloves recognizes all of these things and he thinks about them, and when he doesn’t get something— he checked with Rowling.

I (and perhaps many other people) like to think that we could do a better job than Kloves, that we could snip out parts of such a complex series and piece them into a coherent whole. But the fact remains, that unless you have written a full script from scratch in isolation, only Kloves has gone from raw book to movie. We are going from movie to a better movie, but we are building on the framework Kloves had to build from scratch. We don’t appreciate that Kloves did an incredible amount of work to get where he even did. Folks, Harry Potter is a complicated book series.

That being said, I am in the “Kloves stinks” camp, and while due credit should be given to the director, actors and editors for screwing things up too, I think that a large number of the things I don’t like about the movies can be blamed on Kloves, and that’s who I blame when I say I don’t like the movies. He had the right ideas, but he just didn’t make it all the way.

Here’s what I don’t like about Kloves:

1. A lot of times, stuff just doesn’t make sense. I sat through the movies thinking “why did X say that?” or “I think I would want to explain to my neighbor what just happened because he’s leaving something out” many many times. Or “how are they going to deal with that in a future movie”? I didn’t feel that way with movie 5. The fifth movie made sense in a way that the other movies never did.

In general, things that required an explanation, especially after the fact, were never well explained. This is often because when the action is over, movies end as quickly as possible (see LOTR and the complaining about the movie seeming to end several times over, and the removal of the “crucial” scouring of the Shire scenes). Take the fourth movie: My immediate reaction to seeing movie 4 was “I need to go-reread book 4, I didn’t realize what a well-crafted book it was and that it all made sense”. Heh. GOF is one of the most non-sensical books in the series. Kloves doesn’t do “whodunits” well, he doesn’t do backstory well, and since the entire book only makes sense after a chapter-long confession by Crouch, Kloves is never able to scatter that where it needed to go.

2. Kloves loves Hermione, but he doesn’t understand her because the reason Harry Potter is the powerful hero and she’s not is because Hermione cracks under pressure and confrontations which Harry manages to do the right thing. Exhibit A: “There’s no wood” was butchered from movie 1 to create a scene where Hermione doesn’t act like an idiot before saving the day. The whole point is that it was really dumb for Hermione to remember one thing but forget the other until Ron bridges the gap. Very smart people do choke up all the time, especially when angered or frightened, and movie-Hermione never freaks out when it isn’t justified but book-Hermione does. She’s insecure and just a little insane at times. In the movies, Hermione comes off as faultless.

Kloves manages to tell a fantastic story adequately which translates to good enough in the minds of less extreme fans and non-fans. The movies are missing that indescribable element that would say “SEE? This is what I have been talking about” to the non-obsessed who don’t read. I don’t feel I can use them as a tool for sharing. If done well, the movies should tell a complete story and convey to people who only see the movies why the books are that darn popular. I don’t think that they do, though knowing what happens removes a certain bit of the surprise. But seeing the movies doesn’t spawn that obsessive high I’ve gotten walking away from the Incredibles or Star Wars that leaves me wanting more NOW.

Posted by EileenPrince on April 24, 2011, 10:03 PM report to moderator
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265 Points

Bittersweet. I can’t help but think it’s another thing come to a close.

Posted by KayWeasley on April 25, 2011, 12:31 PM report to moderator
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799 Points

Wonderfully said, EileenPrince. I think, in short, Kloves was far more interested in writing scripts based on a series of books entitled “Hermione Granger and the …”. As I’ve said before, Kloves does quite a good job on original screenplays but just because one can write a script it does not necessarily follow that one can write a good adaptation. One should understand one’s limitations and work on improving them in a less public (and globally adored) environment. (Are you listening David Yates?)

Posted by DeliaDee on April 25, 2011, 05:46 PM report to moderator
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2408 Points

When people complain about Kloves I just don’t think they comprehend just horrendously different things could have been in these adaptations. I thank my lucky stars everyday that they stand up proudly as companion pieces and are great films. In saying that I agree that the lack of Ron speaking at the end of HBP was so irritating. I did want an affirming trio moment like the one in the book. That would have hit the spot. BUT if you’ve actually read Kloves’ HBP script it is quite different. For instance Ginny is there too (thank God Yates changed that decision, it has to be the trio)

Posted by KiwiMcI on April 26, 2011, 09:07 AM report to moderator
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4481 Points

I think Kloves has done a wonderful job, and I really enjoyed reading this article. It’s always lovely to see what Jo has to say – she is continuously candid and so well spoken in her interviews. I feel like when she speaks, she lets her audience into her world, and that is why we feel as though we actually know her. It’s satisfying to know about the nature of her relationship with Kloves, and the fact that she approves of his interpretations and adaptations of her wizarding world.

Posted by Smitch on April 26, 2011, 07:13 PM report to moderator
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4481 Points

And to add my thoughts to some of the well-written comments – I know many will disagree with me when I say this, but in my opinion, the movies are largely made for the readers (the true Harry Potter fans). As fans, shouldn’t we be generally satisfied? Not with everything, of course – but with a lot of it. I don’t believe that these films are made for non-fans. Sure, a non-fan could watch and be entertained, albeit confused for a lot of it – but that is their call to watch it, and their responsibility to become familiar with the series if they are to fully appreciate the films. We can’t expect the movie-makers to do absolutely everything for us. Like EileenPrince mentioned – Harry Potter is a complicated (and lengthy) series. Are we really to expect that the films will capture and convey most the series? It is supposed to be an interpretation; an adaptation, and with that understood, I think they have done a splendid job. Sure, I am disappointed with several aspects, such as Harry and Ginny’s awkward kissing scenes, or how they didn’t include Dumbledore’s funeral. I could go on! But, I digress, because when thinking back on my Harry Potter film experience, I feel that the folks in charge worked as true fans, and true masters of their craft.

Posted by Smitch on April 26, 2011, 07:25 PM report to moderator
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1985 Points

Thanks for posting the article.

Posted by jhangelgurl (ITC!) on April 27, 2011, 07:37 PM report to moderator
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