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  • Writer's pictureD. Michael Flanagan


Updated: Jun 26, 2019

I recently had the opportunity to "adapt" the international, award-winning novelist Valerio Massimo Manfredi's novel WOLVES of ROME into a feature film. Contracted through RiverRock Pictures, it was the second time I had adapted a novel into a screenplay. Suffice it to say, tt was no less easy the second time around.

As any writer who has attempted an adaptation knows, a good novel doesn't necessarily a good movie make. In fact, creating a solid movie from a book is almost more difficult than simply starting from scratch. A screenplay has a far different structure than a novel. Certain plot-points need to be achieved at very specific timelines. A movie has time restrictions that a book does not. Character development, story twists, objectives...they must all fall quickly in place or the movie risks confusing viewers, or worse, boring them out of their skulls.

“Two brothers are captured by a Roman unit and brought back to ancient Rome to be raised and trained as soldiers. One eventually adapts to the power and pleasures of the empire, the other...keeps a silent vow to one day destroy it from within.”

The overall difficulty of my task increased exponentially when faced with the fact that Manfredi's novel was based on actual historical events and characters. I could take certain creative liberties but was unable to change, not just the original story, but also that which had been documented and recorded in our history books. I had to get very creative with real people and what actually took place, even though it was several thousand years ago. (That said, I did take my liberties.)

Truth be told, that is where the difficulty of the labor became fun and fulfilling as a writer. It wasn't so much of a pair of writing shackles as it was a puzzle to be solved. Intricate and frustrating at points, it became a process of weaving historical truth with the art of fast-paced storytelling. I found myself rather enjoying it. Research, and lots of it, became quite fascinating to me. I uncovered an entire world of weird stuff I never knew. Norse mythology as opposed to Roman, shares many of the same gods and legends, only with different names and outcomes. I used many of these seemingly disjointed myths to paint a pretty cool picture...using ancient prophecy and other bizarre elements to create an entire world, dial it in to one man's historical conquering of the Roman army, and make it entertaining and relevant to the modern-day movie crowd.

Still not a movie up on the big screen, just yet, out of all the screenplays I have written, this one remains as one of the most challenging, and should I say, satisfying adventures I have faced in the journey to tell a story.

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Jun 26, 2019

Culling the intricacies of a full-length novel into the 90 or so minutes of a feature film must be a Herculean task (see what I did there?!) Thanks for the peek behind the curtain, D.


Andrew Newbold
Andrew Newbold
Jun 26, 2019

I have only written a screenplay based on my own imagination, and that was hard enough. I can't even imagine these kinds of challenges. I have also started writing a book on my weight loss journey, which I hope to get published through S-Club (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), and that's even worse because it's based on my own life. How the hell do you whittle down your own life? Regardless, I love the writing process, in and of itself. I know I enjoyed writing the movie, even though it hasn't gone anywhere...yet. Thanks for the blog. It was helpful in the "Keep on trying" department.

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