Chameleon actually began life as a screenplay and, once finished after four years of development, I decided to write the novel around it as I felt that this was the best way of ultimately getting the film made. The novel quickly developed its own life, style and structure and, after a further five years, I successfully published the book. I am now in the process of aggressively marketing the book in the USA. From my recent experience, simply having an award winning book that has also been very well reviewed is not enough to ensure its commercial success. With over 500 books published each day, you have to adopt a strategy that attracts the attention of a very crowded market place. The same is true in attempting to attract potential producers in the development of a film.
Once on the cusp of being published, I approached a number of film producers at the Cannes Film Festival in 2006. To get to this point, I used a combination of research and development of various contacts I had established over the years of struggling through the writing process.
The novel’s provocative, contemporary and highly visual themes immediately attracted certain members of the film community. The story is very March 2007. A fairly consistent comment I have received from readers of Chameleon is that “it would make a terrific film” and this is also something I have strongly believed in. I received a rapid response from the producers of the award winning film Hotel Rwanda and immediately begun a dialogue with them.
I felt they were both credible and honorable and also felt they were a group that could move the process forward at a measured commercial pace as I did not want it rotting in a pile of other potential projects. Most of all, they appeared highly enthusiastic toward both the screenplay and the novel (which ended up being quite different).
After a period of negotiation, I agreed the terms for a 24 month exclusive option agreement over both the screenplay and the book. We are currently in pre-production and hope to have a package completed by May 2007 so that we can take it to the Cannes Film Festival for further commercial development.
Any writer knows that to complete either a screenplay or a manuscript to the point of commercialization requires an almost obsessive interest in it. They do not write themselves. What I have found most interesting is the perseverance a writer needs to commercialize their project; just writing it is not enough. You require an extraordinary faith in the project and a doggedness to ensure that the commercialization process continues to move forward notwithstanding the numerous hurdles that will stand in any writer’s way. You will experience criticism and rejection from all quarters, but this is simply part of the process. I strongly believe in using the Internet and any introductions you may have to make contact will all manner of literary agents, publishers and producers in an attempt to capture that elusive lucky break. It is hard work, but if your project is good enough, there is no reason you cannot succeed.
Richard Hains is the author of Chameleon, a financial thriller. He is currently sponsoring a free weekend in London contest from his website: http://www.chameleonanovel.com