105 Ways to Give a Book

Movie Pitch: The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963

One of the options for my tween’s book report on the assigned reading was to craft a letter pitching the book as a movie. Being movie-loving people here, it seemed like the natural option. But the funny thing was that the more I worked with her writing it, the more I began to truly believe that it actually would be an excellent film. I also love her thoughts, which show her familiarity with movie and acting lingo. So just for fun, here is the letter:
Dear Producer,

I have an amazing proposition for you. Christopher Paul Curtis has this great book called The Watsons Go to Birmingham — 1963 that would make a fantastic movie. Here’s the set-up:

It’s a family drama crossed with a road movie, but with a civil rights kicker. We’re talking Oscar material here! And here’s the hook: Will Smith and family as the Watsons! Will and Jada playing the loving and patient parents. Trey as the tough and yet caring older brother Byron. Jaden as the sensitive protagonist Kenny, and Willow as the sweet little sister. The characters in the book are younger than these actors, but we can make it work. Their age and talent will give them what they need for the emotional range of these complicated characters.

Basically, the book is about an African American family who are struggling to control the behavior of the oldest son. After one last incident, the parents decide that they will bring him to live with the grandmother in Alabama, where he can learn respect. The whole family drives down south, even though they are concerned about race relations there. They are in Birmingham when the church bombing takes place, and it tears through the family — especially affecting the younger brother, who thinks his sister was killed. No one knows how to help him recover, except for the tough older brother, who is more than a troublemaker after all.

We can film in Flint, Michigan, and Birmingham, Alabama — the two places featured in the book. With Jaden coming off of the Karate Kid and Willow’s hit song “Whip My Hair,” the film will bring in lots of kids, and you and I know that adults love Will Smith. Please contact me so that we can discuss this opportunity!

ERC of Coughlan Literary Agency
Seriously, wouldn’t this be cool? We also talked about alternative casting, with Jaden as the older brother Byron and Willow as a new, refreshing choice as “Jenny.” I’m fond of that option too, though it would mess with the brotherly dynamics of the book. But hey, it would be worth it to see more of this girl:

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elizabethanne said...

Is your tween going to direct? What an excellent, creative way to take a fresh look at this book. (I hope this pitch garners good grades -- wish it could garner a movie deal as well!)

Elizabeth O Dulemba said...

OMG - she is amazing! I love that this song has "when I pull up" (in my car)... she's got to be what - twelve? What a talent. :)

Ms. Yingling said...

Not to mention that schools everywhere will buy a copy because it's often a core novel!

Callie said...

What a great letter! I agree with your daughther - Will Smith and co. would be a great fit for the Watsons. I loved this book, and after reading her pitch, I'd like to see it as a movie!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Sondy said...

This is delightful! What a great job she did with this assignment!

The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

How about: "Nancy Drew And The Mystery of Black Friday"
The youth sleuth investigates Wall Street to prevent the Big Crash of '29.

Margin Called

MissA said...

What a great idea! I might die of happiness (and axiety) if The Watsons Go to Brimingham ever became a movie. My anxiety would only be relieved if your daughter was a producer and/or director :)

Love this and the Smith family is the best pick to play the Watsons. I'm all for brining in unknowns but I love Will Smith, Jada and Jaden even more. haha

The Pen and Ink Blogspot said...

Excellent. Great log line. Pitch it!

Megan Germano said...

Heck to the yes! Watson's as a movie. When I saw Christopher Paul Curtis speak the year Bud, Not Buddy came out, he said they were in talks. Apparently it never went anywhere.

Carol H Rasco said...

I have always felt this book would be the perfect movie - your daughter's letter is in turn the perfect pitch. The only point I would add is the 'road trip' aspect which she does mention - as I noted in a blog entry on this book, so many families took road trips that resembled this one with the picnic food, etc. but minus the horrors this family faced - the movie would SO strike a chord and then make people sit up and take notice of the differences between their own road trips where that was in fact the truth...let's start a campaign and your daughter must be the spokesperson followed by directorial duty!

BookBlogFun said...

Wow, how fun! I am listening to The Watsons Go to Birmingham on audio for my daughters parent/child book club in elementary school. We will be discussing it in February. Very exciting to see your daughters work.

~ Lauri Chandler

Shelley said...

This would be awesome! I loved this book.

melanie said...

This sounds like a terrific movie. I would love to see the Smith family playing a fictional family together! I haven't read The Watsons yet, but now I want to even more.

Anonymous said...

You know, you are _right_! This would totally work.

Jennifer Morian Frye said...

Great alternative to the traditional book report! Not to mention, I would see this movie. The book is excellent, and the Smith family super-talented. Perfect combination. Thanks for sharing!