Adaptation, Part 4

Adaptation, Part 4

I realize I’ve got more to say on the topic (see Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here) and I think it might be interesting to look more closely at Dream Student and see exactly how I would envision it being turned into a movie.

I think a good starting point would be to look at what absolutely MUST be included.  Obviously Sara and Brian and their romance; Sara’s dreams; and Dr. Walters, the serial killer.  But what else is absolutely necessary?

I’d say Beth, Sara’s best friend is vital.  Sara’s parents should be in it for sure, and I think that Brian’s mother definitely ought to make her appearance (it’s only one scene, but it’s a good one).

Sara’s brother, Bob, doesn’t get much to do in this book.  He has only one scene where it’s just him and Sara, and that can easily be dropped.  Every other scene he’s in also includes Sara’s parents, so he can be there and have a few lines without a problem.

Sara’s godmother, Kat, is a bigger problem.  She has a long-ish scene with Sara where Sara confides in her, but that’s her only appearance in the book (although she’s referenced quite a bit).  That scene could be dropped, and she could be demoted to “extra” status in one of the family scenes.  This way, she’s at least established and maybe gets a couple of good lines, which sets her up for her part in the third and fourth books.

None of Sara’s classmates at school have especially large roles, so it shouldn’t be a problem to streamline the dorm and classroom scenes.

What scenes must be included?

Sara’s initial dream of Brian.

Her nightmare about the killer and subsequent breakdown with Beth (there are two such incidents in chapter one; they could be combined into one).

Going to the nightclub and meeting Brian.

Sara and Brian’s first date and first time going to bed together.

Sara seeing the girl from her nightmares in the newspaper and freaking out in her professor’s office.

Sara’s nightmares about the second victim.

Sara’s dreams of her fellow students.

Sara’s trip with her father to buy a Christmas gift for Brian, and the family dinner afterwards

Sara dreams of her classmate being targeted by the killer, then she calls her to save her.

Christmas Eve with Sara and Brian’s families meeting

Christmas morning.

Sara and Brian’s New Year’s Eve date

Sara learning how to pick locks and then surprising Brian in his dorm room.

Sara’s nightmare about the next victim

Sara has her art-student classmate draw a sketch of the man in her dreams, and then she and Beth realizing who it is.

Sara, Beth and Brian investigating Dr. Walters and figuring out where he lives.

Driving to Dr. Walters’ house, breaking in and confronting him.

Sara waking up in the hospital.

The epilogue, with Brian about to propose to Sara.

There are some things I’ve left out, to streamline matters for a two hour (or less) film.

Taking the usual three-act structure of a movie, basically act one ends with Sara in the Psychology department office, seeing the newspaper and realizing her dreams are real.

Act two goes from there, through Christmas, and up to the realization that Dr. Walters is the killer.

Act three is the resolution – figuring out where he’s living, what his pattern and timing is, and stopping him before he can kill his next victim.

Most of the classroom/dorm scenes will be in act two, and that’s also where Sara and Brian’s romance will really blossom.  The New Year’s Eve date would be the big highlight of this, and the scene leading up to it when Sara has her mini-makeover, could be taken pretty much word-for-word from the book.

What would I leave out?

Some of the classroom scenes in act one.

The sleep lab, for sure – it would raise audience questions that aren’t paid off, so it’s easier to drop it.

The dorm Christmas party (depending on how long things run in act two, this might be kept, or maybe made part of a montage showing Sara’s life at school)

Sara’s conversation with Kat

The failed trip to the house he used to live in as well (although that scene could work as a device to build suspense and then raise concern that they won’t be able to track down his new home in time).

The first visit to Dr. Walters’ house the day before the final confrontation


So there you are – if you’ve read the book, what do you think of my thoughts about a potential movie?


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