Screenplay Adaptations

What are the best adaptations from ‘movie to TV show’ that you know of? Because stories are malleable and elastic, they can be shaped into many forms while retaining their plot essence.  Find out how you can adapt a film screenplay to a TV show pilot and develop the Show Bible from which hundreds of episodes can be written and produced.

The list of adaptations from film to series is lengthy, with more works being adapted every year.  It’s hard to choose which are the best adaptions from a stand-alone film to an episodic teleplay .  But since this blog promotes magical realism, fantasy, and sci-fi shows and movies, I’ll choose from the list of films that became episodic shows.

A few of my favorite series in the Sci-Fi Children’s category are:

  1. Aladdin
  2. Benji (became the sci-fi show Benji, Zax, and the Alien Prince)
  3. Beetlejuice
  4. Flipper
  5. Godzilla
  6. Hercules
  7. Honey, I Shrank the Kids
  8. Kong
  9. The Little Mermaid

In the YA to Adult Sci-Fi category my favorite are:

  1. Alien Nation
  2. Blade
  3. Black Dynamite
  4. The Crow
  5. Dominion
  6. Limitless
  7. The Mask
  8. Planet of the Apes
  9. Starman
  10. The War of the Worlds
  11. X: Destiny War

The above list of movies that became television series may have been a movie before they became episodic but most of them originated as novels.

Every one of these stories contains an inciting incident, the protagonist is likable even when it is a monster, and there is something in the way of he/she obtaining what they want or need to accomplish their goal.

How to convert a film screenplay to a television series

The way to convert a movie format into a TV series is by creating smaller short-term goals that are developed in each episode.  One way of thinking going about that most writers would agree with, is to break down the whole into the parts.  You see for every episode be a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end, or Acts I, II, III, you must see the smaller stories within the main plot.  That’s where the Show Bible comes in.

It all starts with the pilot.  The TV Pilot of a series launches the plot or problem through the protagonist’s world and introduces the key characters in the series. Characters can be introduced or eliminated in each episode without changing the overall arc of the series. Every character has a connection to the protagonist that can be exploited in more ways than one.  Each character has her/his own story and different problems can be exploited based on their connection to the problem and the protagonist.

The Show Bible

The Show Bible contains a detailed description of the literary elements of the show such as setting, characters, plot, and the series arc with its resolution and final resting place. From these elements, dozens if not hundreds of episodes can be written.  In many cases, one time appearances of celebrities may be written into the episode’s plot heightening the quality of the actors in the show and that helps to promote it.  Show Bible’s are guarded with jealousy by most shows.  When writers want to pitch an episode of a show to the network, they must go back to the pilot and see where their script ties in with the overall problem which is presented during the pilot.

If you are interested in transforming a story into a TV show, whether it’s a novel, film script, or just a short story let us know what you need and we’ll get back to you soon.  By filling out the Contact Form below you are also agreeing to receive our weekly blog update.

This 70s TV series, adapted from a movie of the same title, is now being adapted again into a new movie with Samuel Jackson, to be released in 2019
Shaft 1
Although not Sci-Fi, there is magic in Shaft.


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