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January 30th, 2013
12:26 PM ET

Challenges of bringing the book 'Life of Pi' to life on film – screenwriter David Magee explains

The journey of "Life of Pi" from page to screen is about as improbable as that of the story's central character – a boy name Pi who is adrift at sea on a lifeboat with a hungry Bengal tiger named "Richard Parker." Conventional wisdom and much of Hollywood felt the surreal novel could not be made into a movie. But director Ang Lee and screenwriter David Magee met the challenge. "Life of Pi" now has 11 Oscar nominations including one for Lee and the writer David Magee who joins “Starting Point” this morning to discuss his success.

Magee says he originally read the novel for fun and was not sure if the story could be made into a film but when Lee approached him it all seemed possible.

“Ang has the ability to take material that most people wouldn’t take a second look at and convince studios that he can do it because he can,” Magee says.

Magee, who previously earned an Oscar nomination for his first screenplay “Finding Neverland,” says that translating books onto the big screen is a discipline.

“Any book that runs 300… 400… 500 pages – there’s going to be material in it that there’s no way that you can capture all of that on screen in a two hour time period. It’s probably a tenth of the actual number of words...It’s finding the essence of the book that you want to bring out,” he adds.

On his chances of winning an Oscar, Magee says he “would be very disappointed if we didn’t recognize the work of the visual artists.” He adds that while he would love to run away with an Oscar he does not “want to spend the next four weeks worrying about what my chances are when I should just be having fun going to these parties.”

Filed under: A little fun • Oscars
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