Culture

Jonathan Tropper on Adapting This Is Where I Leave You

Jason Bateman and Tina Fey in This Is Where I Leave You/Photo © 2014 - Warner Bros. Pictures

Editor's Note: Jonathan Tropper is the author of One Last Thing Before I Go, How to Talk to a Widower, Everything Changes, The Book of Joe, and Plan B. He most recently adapted This Is Where I Leave You as a feature film for Warner Brothers Studios and is an Executive Producer and co-creator of the Cinemax series "Banshee." Here, Jonathan shares the five most surprising aspects of the adaptation process.

1. That we made the movie at all: Over five years and endless rewrites, it really felt like this movie would never happen. The project fell apart more than once. But the producers persevered, and because they insisted, I continued to do the work.

2. The cast: I still can't believe the cast [director] Shawn Levy lined up for this movie. For a while it seemed like every other day I would get an email from Shawn with another piece of dream casting, and suddenly we had this incredible ensemble.

3. How many moments don't make the cut: There's a real art to post-production, and as the movie finds its pacing in the editing room, certain moments -- sometimes entire scenes -- start to feel unnecessary. And once you have a final cut you're happy with, you completely forget about those lost moments.

4. How hard it is to shoot a dinner scene: For the last few years I've worked on my show, "Banshee," an action show in which we shoot car chases, gun fights, fist fights, and sex scenes. All technically complex sequences to shoot. But, it turns out, five people sitting around a table simply talking to each other is every bit as complicated to block and shoot. Who knew?

5. The value of improv: There is no scene that can't be made smarter or funnier in the moment by actors like Tina Fey and Jason Bateman. Many of their adlibs stayed in the movie.

Click here for more thoughts from authors on the adaptation process.