Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Adapting Mercedes Lackey's "Werehunter" for Film

A few years back I attended a panel at DragonCon featuring author S.M. Stirling in which he said that short stories make good movies, while books make good miniseries or TV shows. Although I don't watch nearly as much television as I used to, The Stand and Moby Dick are good examples of books adapted to 3-4 hour miniseries and Game of Thrones and The Expanse are excellent of examples of making each book in a series a season for a television show. I even plotted out a nine episode adaptation of my novel The Thing in the Woods as a short TV series in the vein of British shows.

At my various day jobs I typically run YouTube videos to have a soundtrack while I work. The other day I found the song "Golden Eyes" by Heather Alexander, which is an adaptation of Mercedes Lackey's short short "Werehunter." Here's the music video for your entertainment:

I remembered what Stirling said about short stories making good movies when I read the story. "Werehunter" tells the tale of Glenda, an impoverished and friendless young woman who, pursued by some young men with bad intentions, ends up at a creepy old house presided over by a "crazy" woman. Said woman offers her the chance to go to a different world if there's nothing for her here, an offer that she obviously accepts.

Soon after arriving in this new world she learns that thanks to a ring passed down to her by a mother she never knew (she was raised by an unpleasant aunt who didn't like her brother's choice of a wife) she can change her form into a leopard. She finds life as a leopard a lot better than living as a human, but the villagers whose livestock she preys on soon hire a hunter with secrets of his own.

"Werehunter" could be adapted as a film. From the beginning of the story (her getting turned down for welfare from a clerk who clearly has better things to do) to her arriving in another world and her first transformation into a leopard could take fifteen to thirty minutes. There could be a montage of her learning the ropes of living as a predator and how to outwit the villagers and their dogs by using her shape-shifting ability to confuse her tracks and scents.

(That could make adapting it in a movie tricky, as until the very end whenever she appears as a human she'd be naked. The nudity wouldn't be sexual in nature, but that would still jack up the rating for a movie that could otherwise probably be PG. Unless, of course, it was shot at clever angles.)

However, in terms of material resources needed to adapt the film, you wouldn't need that much. Glenda and the hunter are the most distinctly described--Glenda is brunette and plain with odd yellow-brown eyes (and given the nature of the role, the actress would need to be rather...adventurous) and the hunter is a brunette man and strikingly handsome. The welfare clerk, the "crazy" woman, some thug types, her unpleasant aunt for flashbacks, and some peasant-villager types get much less description, so there's more flexibility in casting them. The beginning would take place in the student ghetto in what sounds to me like the Pacific Northwest, but most of the book would take place in the forests and plains of a fantasy world. There're references to a war being fought in the past with "strange" technology that could imply a Dark Tower-like situation that could make flashbacks more expensive if the creators decide to "show" and not "tell" the hunter's back-story. However, if the money's not available or if it's too distracting, that could be elided over or left out completely.

The movie could also be very timely--Glenda ends up the situation in the first place due to predatory men and chooses to spend almost all of her time as a leopard because as a woman alone in a strange world she's vulnerable, but as a leopard she's a fearsome predator. It's a #MeToo fantasy movie, but it wouldn't beat the viewer over the head with a message and thus possibly alienate people.

What do you think?


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks. Fingers crossed and God willing if I ever make J.K. Rowling levels of money, I can go around producing movie adaptations of books I like.

      This seems like a good first project, for the reasons listed above.

      Of course, I need to finish and sell a few more books first. :)