WOOL, the movie.

Tonight I’ll be talking to my film co-agent, who I think is going to shop WOOL around to studios and production companies. (I suppose I’ll know more about this *after* we talk). This and the offer from the BBC has me wondering just what sort of film or TV show anyone would expect to make of WOOL.

So here’s what I would do (SPOILER ALERT!):

I would only tell what’s in the first WOOL. Yeah, that’s right. If I was entrusted with writing the screenplay, I would tell the story of WOOL pretty much as it is in the book, but with longer flashbacks, more of a sense of mystery and discovery, and more with Marnes and Jahns.

Start with Holston on the stairs, walking up, sounds of children playing (fans of the books would dig this being ripped right off the page). Close up of his hand on the railing, the worn metal treads, the chipping paint, a shot of a light bulb flickering, rust stains on the wall, more squealing from above, maybe a ball goes bouncing through a railing and tumbles into space (or a paper plane, or an article of clothing).

You could even throw the intro credits (or whatever you call them) on the screen during this bit. Up in the cafeteria, Holston dodges through the kids, pan to a shot of the wallscreen, and then as he’s walking toward his office, a short flashback to his wife on the ground screaming to be let out. Holston wobbles, grabs a chair, makes it to his office. Pan to a dead body visible on the wallscreen.

Holston asks for the keys. More credits popping up. Marnes grabs them. They go to the cell; Holston locks himself inside. Asks to go out.

Cut to the mayor being told, her and Marnes, he’s not sure what’s up with him. Conversation, talk about the wallscreen, the taboos, about Allison. And after this scene, with doubt cast about the outside world, cut to the title. The film opens afterward in the past with Allison discovering something amiss in IT.

90 minutes to tell the story. Keep it short and laser-focused. Work a Juliette sighting in there with Holston and Marnes in the down deep, perhaps. (Or, after the final scene, flash to the down deep, Jules working on the generator, which is making a freaking racket, and someone nearby gossipping about the cleaning, about the sheriff being dead, and then the question: “Any idea who’ll replace him?”

Scene. Roll credits.

The rest of the story is then told on TV. Use the film to drive the show. If you miss the movie, you can still watch the serial. If you miss the TV show, you can still enjoy the film.

Anyway, that’s what I would do. If anything were to actually get done and anyone were to ask me, of course. Neither of which is likely.

65 responses to “WOOL, the movie.”

  1. Sounds great! I love the idea of throwing in a scene with Juliette. It will make you want to crave the sequel or the TV show even more. I can’t wait to see the silo on either the big screen or TV. I am curious to see if it will look as how I picture it being.

  2. I guess you could always insist on final screenplay and post-production edit approval. Heck, you could even try your hand at writing the screenplay yourself with all the spare time you have these days!

    I love your thoughts on how the story should develop on the screen. Seems to me that the natural venue for telling the story is a TV mini-series that covers the Wool saga and then a TV series telling the Silo stories. As the Silo residents discover more about their past, the TV series would flashback into the stories you are writing now about how and why the silos came into existence. My opinion is that movie studios just muck up really good science fiction short stories (for example King’s “The Running Man”).

  3. I like it. I was thinking either it would be that the first story would be the first 10 minutes of a movie that encompassed all the books or that it would be a mini series or tv show. The difficulty with a movie is identifying one clear protagonist. But if you could get a feature out of the first book that would be awesome because the plot and pacing are superb. People develop short films into features and skits into tv shows, so it can be done. My other thought is that you could introduce another character in whom Holston confides some of the information on his thoughts about the outside as an expository tool for what is now inner monologue. Not Marnes, but someone else who knows just enough information to be dangerous and carries it further along into the story. But clearly I spend too much time adapting screenplays in my head while I read.

  4. For what it’s worth, I’d vote TV mini-series over movie, especially if it’s the BBC doing it. I just finished watching BBC’s Sherlock, which was beyond amazing. Each season has been three 90 minute episodes, and it was incredibly well done. I can see Wool having a similar format.

    1. I agree with this fully. I have watched a few BBC series including Sherlock and have been extremely impressed with each.

  5. It’s an interesting concept. I haven’t seen many movies that have used a movie –> tv show format, but it could work. Still, unless you have a serious role in deciding what goes on the screen, they won’t reach their potential. Too many based-on-books movies have been ruined due to not involving the author.

  6. I love the idea of the BBC doing Wool. Also, I think it needs to be a series, and I think you need to have some role in the writing of that series. I think I like the series idea because then there would have to be more story…

    P.S. I think it’s awesome that you keep your readers up-to-date on your progress (sneak peek chapters, hooray), and that you read/comment back to people on your blog.

  7. Agree on Hugh having a role in the writing, whether it’s movie or TV series.

  8. Damn! I really hope you write the screenplay. That tid bit was fantastic and wow… love the visual of the ball… gives depth on so many levels (pun! I made a pun!!)

  9. Just read the omnibus. Loved it. Had one beef… the formatting was off with the sepia tone on the Kindle Fire. The page was sepia and the text was in white blocks. I will love you forever and burgh babies for you if you fix this for the next installments.

    1. Hmmm. I think I need to get a Kindle Fire so I can test this out. I’ll see what I can do.

  10. I love the way you justify new toys… “Oh no, it’s not really for me, I need it to… ummm… see if the formatting is off… Yeah… that”

    1. Haha. Well, maybe I should wait for the Fire 2 to come out. Just to make sure my books look correct on the new screen.

  11. Bbc Bbc Bbc. Miniseries like pride and prejudice. Your premise is good. You need to do the screenwriting yourself or collaborate with someone but have ultimate say. Damn this makes me want to read instead of going to work. Randy just walked out the door. He said to tell you,”are you finished with my next book yet?”

  12. I sense our days of 1-2-1 interaction are drawing to a close; best enjoy it while we can. Soon enough, it’ll be Hugh/Ridley this, and Howey/Spielberg that ;( Still, mustn’t be selfish I suppose. Fingers crossed Hugh, for monetary AND creative satisfaction if at all possible!

  13. Man, I hope that never happens. I don’t want to get so busy that I can’t interact with readers. It’s the biggest thrill in my life right now.

  14. Oh man… a movie would be awesome! Do you guys see actors when you’re reading books? For me, from the moment I met Marnes I read his lines and saw him as Sam Elliott. Anybody else would ruin the character for me! :D http://i.imgur.com/o4ntP.png

    1. Sam Elliot definitely came to mind while writing Marnes.

    2. Before I dare to mention this I must admit I have just finished re watching a very ordinary IMO repeat of 2012 with John Cusack. For some reason the crazy character Woody Harrelson played in this cheese-fest had me thinking of him as Walker. Probably because I was grasping at straws….. Sorry, returning to my cave now.

  15. Sorry for the bad grammar, that’s what I get for using my phone!

    First off, great books! I love them & recommending them to everyone I talk to. I just finished the omnibus on the kindle and did notice the formatting issue (some text had sepia background). Also mad that I just missed the NYC meetup, any chance of another?

    As for the show, I think it could be a smash hit. I think I’d most like to see the contrast between silos 17 & 18. I imagine a silo being all concrete & iron. 18 would be depressing but not overly so, kind of like when they finally went inside ‘the hatch’ in lost. There’d be niceties and comforts. Then when you first see 17, it would be a total horror movie.

    1. I’m looking into this text sepia thing. Thanks for helping spread the word on the books; I really appreciate that!

  16. I love it. Saves plenty of story line for the TV series (or movie sequels?).

    By the way, I told my wife about Wool last weekend. She has now read all five! I’m using all the willpower I have not to buy 5 quite yet. I have work, family and three graduate classes going on, so I’m trying not to sabotage those efforts by getting sucked back into the world of Wool!

  17. I mostly read at night on my Fire and I could not use “night mode” due to the text being white highlighted as others have noted. The problem started at the beginning of Book 2 (Book 1 is fine) . I checked some more and formatting corrects a couple pages into Chapter 5 and remains good through to the end. Wool 3 has format issue the whole way through until the last page or two. Wool 4 & 5 are fine and display properly. Hope this helps.

  18. I am super excited for you! I would definitely watch anything that they based off of this series. Who do you picture when you write Juliette?

  19. OMG! I just finished the 5 book omnibus collection. I sat there for a long time in awe, for out of the hundreds of thousands of books I have read, I have not had a book that impacted and charged me as this one did. I couldn’t stop talking about it with my husband and said this could totally be made into a movie or extended miniseries. Fast forward to now and your web site I stumbled upon. Your message shocked but didn’t surprise me. You have a gem of a story. Loved it! Loved it! I felt like I was right there with the charaters on every page. Please keep us posted on the talks. In answer to Jillconn, fairly unknown actors work the best. Well-known stars tend to take away from the story, imo…

    1. You should copy/paste that entire comment into an Amazon review! Love the compliments. Made me blush.

      And I agree about preferring unknown actors. I get pulled out of a story when I say to myself, “Oh, there’s Brad Pitt. I must be watching a movie.”

  20. Oh, I am. Thanks. btw, more wool, please…..

  21. Hmmm, I wonder what the soundtrack’ll be like.

  22. Hugh

    I agree with some of the posts above, Wool needs to be all BBC! I see someone like the Sci-Fi channel (don’t know if they called you) dorking it up with comic sidekicks and mutant dino-croc’s. When the Brit’s do sci-fi they take it seriously where our mainstream media tends to video-game-ize everything.

    Good luck and let us know.

  23. I stayed up all night reading the WOOL Omnibus (til 4 AM). I would like to see the BBC do it as well. It may be a bit difficult though because I thought that all the Silo’s were in America, maybe everyone in the future has an English accent? hahaha.

    Keep up the good work man! I spent parts of today thinking about connecting 17 & 18 together with the boring machines… once all of the Silos unite maybe they can turn off whatever is killing everything…

    1. I wrote some of the scenes you’re describing yesterday morning! ;)

  24. Just want to add my backing for a TV series with the BBC too. I think they’re a perfect fit. If you’ve never seen it before, try to see if you can get hold of ‘Survivors’, an end-of-the-world series that has certain similarities with Wool. Especially when they meet up with a walled community. It’s a perfect example of what the BBC does best.

  25. AMC does/did an awesome job with some of their mini series – mad men, Walking dead, Hell on wheels – I wouln’t mind seeing them do Wool….

    1. Agreed. I don’t think they are on our submission list right now. I’ll have to mention that.

  26. I love your cast ideas! How exciting, I hope it all works out. I’m reading the Hurrican now and then I already have the Plagiarist already waiting in my Kindle. Then I guess I will start on your Molly books. I would ask you to come to Greenville Sc to do a signing, but I don’t actually have anything for you to sign. :/ Hmm.

  27. I want to second AMC. I think they do an excellent job with their series (though I do get a bit frustrated at how they manipulate their viewers so well.)

    I really see Wool as a series instead of a full length movie. There’s so many places in the plot that make great cliff-hangers… Perfect for a television series.

    I also see the actors as largely “unknowns”, though I think exceptions could be made and for some reason I’m stuck on Noomi Rapace as Julliete (if you’ve never seen it, check out the original *Swedish* version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.) she is one of those up and coming actresses that is largely unknown still. Her acting says a whole lot without needing much dialogue.

  28. I see Ellen Page as Jules and Cherry Jones as Jahns…still working out the others in my mind’s eye…

  29. I just finished the Omnibus Edition of Wool and want to say thank you for a great read. I’m dying to find out more about the past, about the beginning, about how it all started and the choices that drove the men and women of the outside to bring this hell upon themselves. I want to know their story. Thanks again!

  30. Hi,
    I attend CSULB and for my motion graphic class we were assigned to select a book and make an opening title sequence. I am doing your book and I will post it here when I finish.

    1. No way! I’m DYING to see this, now. If you want to email me with a link to the video and some details about yourself, I’ll make it its own blog post.

  31. I’m at the beginning process of creating this title sequence. It wont be done in a few weeks, but I will definitely email it to you when I finish.

  32. I thought the books were amazing! I read the Omnibus edition in about a week and loved every second of it. Working on First Shift now. Also, I have to say the amount of interaction you have with the readers on your website is unreal!

    I’m not sure I agree with Laurie above re Jules. Ellen Page is too young. I was thinking more Robin Tunney. I do agree with the rest though – Cherry Jones and Sam Elliott are perfect for Jahns and Marnes. Call me when you need a casting director! ;)

  33. Is the actual script/screenplay panning out as you described here in this post almost a year ago? Or is it going in a different direction? I personally want a long movie that tells the entire Wool (1-5) story.

    1. Yup. It’s going to tell the story of Wool 1-5. :)

  34. I wish that HBO would pick up this as a series. Hayley Atwell as Jules.

  35. Hi there, just completed Wool 1-5 which was recommended to be by my fiance, could not put the kindle down! First volume was a really good hook and would make a fab tv series opener, with a teaser towards main characters such as Juliette. For the character Holston I can’t help but picture Sean Bean, but seeing as he dies in pretty much every film there wouldn’t be much suspense over whether he survives the cleaning, I was really rooting for him in the book! Can’t wait to read the next installments!

  36. You have no idea how much we are anticipating this :)

  37. My vote is for a mini series in the same vane as Battlestar Gallactica remake, the story telling is similar with flashbacks and the like. a movie is too short of a format to tell the story.

  38. Loved the book, just finished reading it, I first heard about it on Simon Mayo’s book club on Radio 2 here in the UK. It would make a great film as long as the plot isn’t meddled with and neither of the guys who wrote Lost have anything to do with it. My dream cast would be:

    Juliette – Rebecca Hall
    Holsten – Michael Fassbender
    Solo – Johnnny Depp
    Jahns – Sigourney Weaver
    Marnes – Harrison Ford/Sam Elliott
    Lukas – Benedict Cumberbatch
    Bernard – Paul Giamatti
    Knox – Mandy Patinkin
    Peter Billings – Simon Pegg
    Walker – Michael Caine
    Shirley – Lena Heady

    1. That was my EXACT pick for Jahns and Marnes! The Ridley Scott tribute. :)

      1. Wow, great minds eh? Lol When reading I find that i do subconsciously put faces to names – Rebecca Hall especially was most prominent, the tenacity, stubbornness and sheer determination to survive if not for herself but for others a truly heroic character in the least contrived sense. Thinking of this character coming to life I actually think it fits. Great to know that the author had the same thought on two key characters! Going to read Shift now.

  39. That sounds amazing. When does the movie come out?
    I think that Lukas should be Theo James :) or Josh Hutcherson… or Logan Lerman…agh so hard to decide

  40. Just half way through Dust. Don’t want to read this thread further yeat.
    Thanks for a great experience! While I was reading this I just kept seeing a TV series, Lost style.

    First series would only be about Jules as mayor and ending to Jules going out to clean and seeing silo 17 while Bernard is communicating with Silo 1. A perfect cliffhanger. They’re not alone!

    Second series would then start with Donald waking up the first time. First few episodes would be half Donald and flashbacks to 2050, half Juliet browsing around 17. The series would end to Donald going to freeze the first time and Jules meeting Solo.

    Series 3 would start again with Donald woken up to save 17. Third series would revolve around Juliet & Solo, Silo 17 flashbacks and Donald trying to save 17. Third series would end to Donald leaving Silo 1 and getting intercepted by Thurman NOT waring a suit and Jules returning 18.

    Series 4 would be the present. The dig, Donald getting closer to the secret and the finale, that I have not read yet :-)

  41. I’m working on spec scripts to break into the screenplay business, and one of my thoughts had been to do Wool. Any update to pitching this? I’d rather not do a spec screenplay of something you’ve already sold. :)


    My writing style:

  42. Dont know why but I picture Felicia Day in similar styling to the character she played in Whedons Dollhouse as Juliette. Maybe just me im a sucker for a redhead with an attitude problem.

  43. Wool… good on you, loved it ! I heard Disney was going to do it as an animation. Mini as Jules and mickey as the sheriff??? But seriously; I kept thinking that a society might not have the time to build all of these silos so I pictured aircraft carriers being buried. (wouldn’t be a bad place to shoot some of the scenes.

    Good luck with this project… we all can’t wait. Kincaid.

  44. I think Wool is tailor-made for film. The attention to detail and nuance promotes stunning visuals. Like you suggest, Hugh, they shouldn’t depart too much from original context within the book. Scott is perfect for the directorial position as he knows how to flavor scripts with a dark and seedy side.

  45. HUGE fan. Read the $1 version of Wool. Thought it would make a great TV series but happy to hear it will be a movie. Hopefully not with an overly popular cast. Something would be lost if huge names were cast; possibly could overshadow a great story.

  46. I can not WAIT for this movie, I’m reading shift now! I just have to say, I saw Woody Harrelson in my mind as Solo… playing himself, no acting needed! This is going to be fantastic!

  47. Huge fan! Read the whole series and I am so excited to see that a film is in the works. Is there a rough time frame for it yet?

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  49. I read Wool, and just now finished Shift I will be starting Dust in mere moments. What a fantastic read! As far as I am concerned, this trilogy is right up there with Asimov’s Foundation! BTW how big are the silos?

  50. I think this would be a great Netflix Series. Just rip them all at once. I know folks would benge watch. Great series. Just started Dust.

  51. Cant wait, read all of the originals and on the last of the silo 49’s

    I can see it spawning a TV spin-off line stargate and similar. theres so many stories and characters yet to be invented in this world.


  52. You’re all going to think I’m crazy if I say that, for some reason, I have always imagined the character of Holston to be played by Peter Capaldi. I just have the inexplicable feeling a role such as this would suit him.

    I appologise if this was not the intended image you were going for, but I had pictured him as a grey haired gentleman- well respected but possibly also a little bit broken.

    But that’s just my opinion :)

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