Cast of Thousands


by Raymond M. Coulombe

Writers of books have it easy. Need a cast of thousands? No problem. Write in a cast of thousands. Explosions? Easily done. High Tech wiz bang gadgets? Make them up. Beautiful talented characters? They are at your command and for the same price as ugly villains. All it takes is a decent grasp of the written word.

Playwrights and screenwriters have to keep front and center how the whole thing translates to stage or screen. The cast of thousands becomes a cast of six. The props department complains about the cost and construction of your gadgets. Movie bean counters nix the budget for high end CGI. There are no end of roadblocks to the writer’s vision. In fact, often the final product has little in common with what the writer started out with.

However, if the budget is there and the movie makers good enough, the written word can be realized in visual medium. For example, after reading “The Lord of the Rings,” one of my first thoughts was that it was too bad it could never be made into a movie. Back in the ’70s it was just plain impossible to do it justice. I had no idea how far movie making would develop in the coming years.

While plays and movies sometimes get it right, the written word is still hard to beat. The key is to engage the reader’s imagination. Once you’ve captured that you’ve engaged the best special effects device ever created.

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