Books Versus Movies

The Jump

Perhaps the question should not be which is the greater medium but instead which, if any, books are truly made of the right stuff to illuminate the silver screen. But given that movies are the ultimate marketing gift of renewed sales for publishers, surely all questions are redundant.

"You make movies for people and for audiences. I write my books and paint my pictures in splendid isolation and I put them out to the world. If people like them, they like them. If people don't like them, it's too late. Movies are a different thing. For one, you're spending $10 - 11 million of someone else's money, which is a responsibility, and you're trying to reach an audience that maybe isn't going to pick up a book. They want the information faster and more furious."

The Conjuring of Lord of Illusions part 5 - The Last Interview

By Anthony C. Ferrante, Fangoria, No 146, September 1995

"It's a funny thing how my life is a seesaw between very private, introspective writing processes and this very public, extroverted process of directing a movie. You have to be out there and have a loud voice and speak about what you need and have a public persona, and hopefully it allows for much creative inspiration. When everybody is feeling down, you want to be a source of energy to them. You want to be the one with the smile on his face. You can be goofy, and I actually think that's an important part of this. We're all human. We may be getting tired, but we take pleasure in it. It's 3 a.m. right now. I'm tired but I'm actually having a great time."

The Conjuring of Lord of Illusions part 3 - Principal photography (2)

By Anthony C. Ferrante, Fangoria, No 140, March 1995

[On whether Cabal had originally been conceived as a screenplay] "Oh no, it was a book. I'm nervous of the idea of doing books as first draft screenplays. And it's very rare, maybe only twice in my life have I thought of an idea that seemed to be a movie, not a book. I'm wholly committed to the word, wholly obsessed with the word. And, after all, a movie begins with theword, so it's back to that. Ideas get re-routed to the movies, if you like, but they don't start off that way. It would be very disruptive to the way I write to think that way. Although the stuff is visual, I, like you, write from inside the characters - all the time I'm in the egotistical sublime, in there with the responses of the characters. In 'Cabal', Lori and Boone are venturing into new psychic territory, discovering it as they go along, and there is no real cinematic equivalent to that.

Every Fear is a Desire

In London, September 1988 by Lisa Tuttle, Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"The whole idea of Nightbreed began with my novel Cabal. It's a book I'm very fond of and, as I was finishing it, I realised that it would lend itself very nicely to movie adaptation: it was economic in terms of narrative structure and I thought it might be something I'd want to do myself. One of the things I love about making a movie from something I've written is the pleasure of being able to reinvent your imagination: you've done it once, you know the way it looked when you wrote it, and then you reinvent it entirely. Nightbreed doesn't look the way I imagined it when I was writing Cabal. It has turned out to be much larger in scale than I originally anticipated, but it's still manageable for someone like me who is only making his second picture."

Nightbreed (press pack ?)

By [ ], Fantazia, No 5, October 1990

"The ego is satisfied by the books; the extrovert nature is satisfied by the movies. Finally, I expect to be judged by the books - for better or worse, they're 100% me."

The Hell it is *

By Peter Hogan, Melody Maker, 19 March 1988

"Movies are a communal activity, and I love that. But directors have a louder voice than writers in the movies. The studio cat has a louder voice than the writer in movies. And I can't take that. As a writer of books, you're an autocrat, not totally, but if you have a good relationship with your editor and a good relationship with your agent and so on people, if they have objections, are going to put them in a reasonably pleasing way. There's going to be a meeting of minds. It's going to be civilised. This is not true of the movies... . If somebody says, 'I think your story's wonderful,' and then makes a total wreck of it, I have no power. I would prefer to be the architect of my own failures than have somebody else do it for me."

Clive Barker: Renaissance Hellraiser

Barker at 1986 World Fantasy Convention, by Leanne C. Harper, (i) The Bloomsbury Review, September/October 1987 (ii) Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"Writing is quite a solitary experience. But it gives you absolute and complete power. Whatever you pen desires to create is created. Nobody questions it, nobody challenges it, nobody tries to better it. Nobody puts pressure on you to weaken or dilute it. However, you do this in splendid isolation. In movies, you are dealing with other people's talents. You're trying to make a marriage of minds where the actor and the special effects person understand what you're talking about, and you in turn understand what they're talking about. And if they have objections, you should listen, because actors act for a living... there were many times when Andy [Robinson]'s insight - and the insight of other actors, and of Bob Keen and the special effects people - improved what I had written... Now, having come from the absolute authority of the page, it is, frankly, a slap across the face to remember that there are other people out there who have valid opinions and observations. There were many occasions in the picture ['Hellraiser'] where the actors' ideas were much more responsive to the characters they were playing than my ideas. I find that the poetry of shock is an underestimated one - and one which is better prevented from trivialisation on the page than on the screen. In writing a scene of great graphic violence, it's much easier to tell the reader the complexity of your intentions. It's tough to put something extraordinarily graphic and grisly on the screen and hope that your viewer is seeing beyond the gore to what the gore means. But you can do that on the page with relative ease."

Raising Hell With Clive Barker

By Douglas E. Winter, (i) Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, Vol 7, No 5, December 1987 (ii) Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"[Books are the ultimate medium] because they're written in private to be read in private. And, ultimately, that's a more intense experience - for both reader and writer. Movies are a wonderful thing to do... but I have no pretension about the Cinema. I think finally it is an inferior art form to writing, and an inferior art form to the theatre. Because I make a hierarchy of Art based on its lateral applications - and a book is different in everybody's head, and a movie, finally, isn't."

A Dog's Tale

By Peter Atkins, Clive Barker's Shadows in Eden

"Books are always going to be far more important to me than movies, because words are more important than image... Words are a blueprint for a house which you, the reader, are going to build. When you go into a movie, they built the house, they painted it, and they sold it to you for $7.50."

Barker, More Than Just A 'Hellraiser'

By Tom Green, USA Today: Life, 24 September 1992

"With writing you have one to blame when it goes wrong, and one to celebrate when it goes right. With film, you have many people, each with a vision, and they're all wanting to offer something to the collective endeavour. And there are a lot more politics in film. There are no politics between you and the page."

No Apologies

By John Wooley, Bloody Best of Fangoria, No 7, 1988

"With writing you are completely your own master and the problem with film, for me, is that you become a prisoner of the system in a very short time... It's very intense because it's got to be right. When it's committed to film, it's committed to film. You can't keep rewriting it. You can screw around with it in editing, but if the material which you put on film, is not fundamentally good, then you've got only so much you can do to make it better."

Lord Of Illusions - Filming The Books Of Blood

By Michael Beeler, Cinefantastique, Vol 26 No 2, February 1995

"I like making movies but I don't like it as much as writing books. I'm a writer who is occasionally a filmmaker and the business of making movies is a healthy one for me because it keeps me from being so internalised that I can't express myself in the outside world. That's what happens to me at the end of writing a long novel. It's also a way of getting my ideas to a larger public than the reading public, so I'm always going to find cinema interesting. But from beginning to end, the business of directing Lord Of Illusions has taken a year and, if you start with the three drafts of the screenplay, it's probably longer than that. That's two-thirds of a large book and, in my heart of hearts, I believe that it's what I put on the page that has the chance of some longevity. On the other hand, the business of making movies is very pleasurable and addictive and, for my personal mindset, very healthy."

A Kind of Magic

By Maitland McDonagh, The Dark Side, No 45, April/May 1995

"If I spent my entire time at my desk writing novels, I would be a poorer man for it. Part of my nature is to be somebody who like to communicate, likes to work with other people's ideas. Part of it is that I still like the cinematic experience as a viewer. When a movie is fun, when a movie is good, I can't help thinking, "Boy, I'd like to be able to do that", and that desire hasn't gone away or diminished. I've always seen moviemaking and writing as complementary skills and complementary endeavours. I'm not even changing genres, really. I'm working in the fantastique and I'm making movies in the fantastique and would hope to continue to do both."

Boundless Imajination

By WC Stroby, (i) Fangoria, No 109, January 1992 (ii) Horror Zone, No1, August 1992

"A book speaks for itself, but a movie is perpetually in progress. Everything that you do in a given day - your screw ups, your occasional moments of triumph - are visible the next day. And when your producer asks what happened or why you did such and such, you've got to have the answers. You're spending a lot of money, even when it's a modestly budgeted picture. These people aren't philanthropists - they've given me money for my idea and that is an act of faith and I owe them for it."

The Heights And Depths Of Hellraiser

By Douglas E Winter, Fangoria, No 119, December 1992

"It seems to me that the word can do what the cinematic image never can. It can get intimately into our systems and change our perceptions about the world."

Barker Looks Back

By Anthony C Ferrante, Bloody Best of Fangoria, No 12, September 1993

"[Filmmaking] is a palate cleanser after the solitary business of writing, and I find the solitary business of writing very reassuring after the collective free-for-all of the movies. Movie-making can be likened less to some internal, almost monastic ritual, which is what writing is at its best, and more to tag-team wrestling with all the wrestlers halfway drunk... You consider yourself lucky if you get out of the ring with all your eyes, ears and limbs intact. I feel I would like to keep all these different media in my life but, if I had to choose, it would absolutely be writing. There's no ambiguity about that whatsoever. Writing is the single most satisfying experience I know. Pleasant as it is to make movies, nothing will replace that."

A Strange Kind Of Believer

By Stan Nicholls, Million, No 13, January - February 1993

"The idea of the writer as somebody who can still make a very personal and intimate journey into a public pronouncement of some kind or other is, I think, very important, more important now, I think, than ten or twenty years ago, because the other media are so dominant, and, in my own estimation, I say this as somebody who occasionally makes films, so much less important, for lots of reasons, which is probably another conversation. One still values painting and writing and, of course, music, though that's an area I just look at, agog, from afar; it really is a magical activity to me, I don't know how anybody does it; it's like higher mathematics, it's just an extraordinary thing people do... and isn't it wonderful that they do. But of the things I do, painting and imagemaking and writing are far more important to me, and significant, in the way I hope the future will view me, than movies could ever be. And so it becomes even more important, as far as I'm concerned, to hold to and value and constantly reassess the media in which these visionaries [Shelley, Blake, Wordsworth and Coleridge] you listed worked. "

The Edge Interview

By David Alexander, The Edge, 1991

"Novels are different from one person to another. Readers cast the movie's characters in their mind's eye.Films are right there in front of you. It's a more concrete art form. Your experience of going to see Terminator2 will be exactly the same as my experience of going to see Terminator 2.
[re. writing screenplays] "I've never written anything I didn't intend to direct. So to me it's simply the first part of the process. I'm not sure if I would enjoy doing it if I didn't. I wouldn't consider it a finished thing. I think it was director Paul Schrader who said that a screenplay "is an invitation to a collective work of art". A screenplay is a blueprint. I realise that I'm still a fledgling at it, and I'm still at the beginning of my directing career. Although the invitations are out there. Writing is such a solitary business. As I said, it was something like fifteen or eighteen months writing Imajica, and in that time I really haven't interacted with too many people. Movies are more of a communal experience. When you get it right, you have made a benign family unit. When things turn out right, you really enjoy yourself. I miss that atmosphere. Directing compensates for those times when I'm locked away writing. It's the part of me that enjoys gettingout. It's very therapeutic. If it wasn't for my working in films, I'd be very insular and cranky."

The Clive Barker Interview

By Mike Lackey, Marvel Age, No 107, December 1991

"I've never collaborated with anybody in book form. Nor do I have any plans to do so. Of course, working in the cinema it's always a collaborative experience, and it's one of the reasons why I make movies. But I think in all honesty that I'm simply too willful a sonofabitch to collaborate on a novel.
"I think in some ways being able to express myself cinematically allows me to be more literary when it comes to writing. What do I mean by this? Well, there's a kind of writing style which is very 'cinematic.'You know what I mean - short sentences, short scenes, not very much description - the kind of books you pick up at an airport and leave on the plane. I don't like that kind of writing very much. I like sentences that have music and poetry. I like characters to be rich and contradictory. I like the descriptions detailed. In short, what I like about books is very often the things which make them very different from the cinematic experience. I would have to say, therefore, that the chance to make movies has, I believe, made me write less cinematic books."

AOL Appearance

Transcript of on-line appearance, 18 August 1997

"Something is always lost when words turn into celluloid. Literature is a medium which invites a co-creation with a reader, whereas movies are always and inevitably literal."

AOL Appearance

Transcript of on-line appearance 16 July 1996

"Well, I live in L.A. and next door to my film company, Seraphim Films, so I'd say it's fairly intimate. What's distressing to me is that a large body of readers think that the ultimate success of a book is it's graduation to the big screen. They are two totally different mediums. That being said, I like making movies, probably just because it's different from what I normally do. Right now, I'm producing an adaptation of my children's fable, The Thief of Always, for Universal Studios. It is being directed by Bernard Rose, who also directed Candyman. The only problem is the budget: fifty million dollars. That puts more pressure on me to please the people fronting the money for the movie. Hellraiser was so much fun because we made it with only nine hundred thousand dollars. There was no need to conform. If it bombed, nobody was going to loose any "real" money in Hollywood. It was less of a risk, so it was mine to do with what I wanted. That possessiveness was the real pleasure of making the movie. Steven Spielberg enjoys that kind of control with big-money movies, but he doesn't challenge the studio status quo. He just makes movies about dinosaurs.
[Re. making movies] "It actually has made my writing less cinematic and more perversely literary. I get my jollies making movies. If you want to make an analogy, you could say my movies are one-night stands, whereas my books constitute deep relationships. There's no comparison between the two. Movies rely on images, whereas books are more about the subtle nuances of language. When you recall movie lines with others, you're recalling a shared experience made possible by the common imagery of the actors' faces or scenes. Books are more personal. The images created through reading are yours. They are not a shared experience. What makes a book cannot make a movie. Books seduce us with language, offering us intimate signals from which we respond to personally. For this reason, it is problematic turning books into movies. For example, Moby Dick, my favorite American novel, will never be a movie. How do you reproduce the personality and passion ofCaptain Ahab in a movie? Indeed, how could you make an elegant adaptation of Madame Bovary?
"A good example of the difference between books and movies can be found inside the walls of the greatest bookstore in Denver, The Tattered Cover. It has everything! You can actually feel the life, stories, and imagination it holds. Imagine trying to erect a similar museum to film. There is no cinematic equivalent. Of course, I'm in my fortiesand, therefore, from a different generation. TV, movies, video - I am so over the MTV thing. Low culture has become extremely bland. It's entertainment is fully interchangeable with tomorrow's experience, like Big Macs. Books are so much more interactive. They own you just like you own them. You belong to Blake and Melville as much as they belong to you."

Pinhead And The Human Condition

By Dan Clarke,Inklings, Vol 3 No 4, Winter 1997-98

"The system is getting incredibly good at exiling the marginals and we have to be subversive and when I look at my books on the shelves of stores, nice morally upright stores, owned by fundamentalists and think, God, I'm getting this stuff into people's minds. It gives me great pleasure because I think this stuff is fundamentally useful and should be in people's minds more than it is. Clearly, it's easier to get literary stuff into people's minds than it is to get cinematic stuff, because we all know that the power brokers in the cinema don't give a fuck about the art of it, they just care about the commerce. And you have to go a slightly more secure route to get the material into people's heads, but it can be done. Cronenberg does it, David Lynch does it. A whole bunch of Bunuel did it."

Clive Barker : What Makes Him Tick

By Tim Caldwell, Film Threat, No 19, 1989

"It's much more difficult to splatter with intelligence in the movies [than in fiction]. Cronenberg is an obvious exception to that. I hope Hellraiser is as well. I mean it was a splatter picture in a lot of respects, very gory. But I hope it comes across as being done with some intelligence, some subtext. But there aren't too many films around that would fit in that category."

Weird Tales talks with Clive Barker

By Robert Morris, Weird Tales, No 292, Fall 1988

"I like movies, I enjoy making them, they're fun to do. But they're not as important as writing a book or painting a picture, for me. The process [of directing] can get irksome because very often you have to fight for what I would call even the basic rights of a creator, to do what you do best. So often you're spending time fighting the powers that be to simply get your vision out there. And that's not something I have to do when I'm painting a picture or writing a book.
"On the other hand, I really think that if the movies had never been made, people would not be as familiar with me as a writer. There's no question that people go to the movies and the name registers somewhere in the back of the head, so that when they go in the bookstore the next time, there's a certain comfortableness about picking up one of my books. In terms of the freedom that is given me to write the kind of books I write - and to take the kind of risks in the books that I've taken - that freedom has been granted me in no small degree by the movies."

Lord of New Illusions

By W.C.Stroby, Fangoria, No 175, August 1998

"[As with movies] increasingly books are becoming unpredictable, too. I mean everything is unpredictable because, I think, of the connections between the media now in a way there wasn't before. The sale of a book to a movie house can completely change its 'hopes'. It's all one huge self-serving system and I don't like that at all. I don't think it does us who love books any good whatsoever. I think it's very good for the people who do the movies, but I don't think it's good for the people who love books.
"You know, I've been being published for coming up on 20 years soon and I've seen publishing transformed for the worse over that period. When I joined HarperCollins the man in charge was still called 'Collins', I mean literally he was a Collins, and there had been a Collins in charge since the late 1890's. Now, of course, it's Rupert Murdoch and though the organisation is much slicker than it used to be, some of the Old World charm is gone. I miss that."

Then You Look Closely And You Go, 'Oh My God!'

By Paula Guran, Horror Garage, No. 5, Summer 2002

home search contact Books Films Opinion