Matthew Aldrich Consults Kids in Screenwriting Process

Matthew Aldrich’s (who serves as ‘Creative Artichect’ for Netflix’s Narnia) manager says Aldrich’s children are often a “testing room” for his scripts.

Jewerl Ross, Literary Manager and founder of Silent R Management, recently participated in a live Q&A with industry career coach Lee Jessup.

The casual interview covers much of Ross’s early career, his relationship with his clients, and advice for aspiring screenwriters and directors. Of course, conversation included mention of Matthew Aldrich, a high-profile and long time client of his.

Ross was asked on how an artist generates great work and used Aldrich as an example:

Characters come from understanding people. Sometimes it’s about having children…

Matt Aldrich can write kids right now because he has kids and he talks to them and he’s trying to figure them out. He runs his scripts by them and he pitches them stories. When they get bored he cuts it, when they get excited he adds it. His two kids are a testing room.

Matthew Aldrich was announced as overseer of Netflix’s Narnia project last June. He will “shepherd all development and creative on the multiple adaptations” under the deal. 

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28 Responses

  1. fantasia_kitty says:

    I wonder if Aldrich making the movies from a child’s perspective is his version of Adamson’s making the movies from his memory of the books.

    • Impending Doom says:

      I can see that! Hard to tell though when we haven’t heard anything directly from Aldrich himself.

    • icarus says:

      I’ve heard a lot of these sorts of personal anecdotes over the years about how different writers and directors conceptualise their approaches to film making (such as the Andrew Adamson quote you mention)….. i’m not sure on reflection i’d put any great stock in any of them. They are nice little stories to tell in interviews, but I can’t really think of any time where it had a substantive impact on the artistic quality of the final product.

  2. Deborah says:

    I so wish I can be Susan for the Netflix narnia as it’s been my dream for years, does anyone have any tips or helpful advice? Xx

    • Aslan1Fan says:

      Hello Deborah,
      I’ve had limited experience in the film industry so I hope it’s okay to give some advice.
      If you truly want to be Susan in a Netflix adaption, you’ll need an agent who can keep an eye out for auditions. Big budget films and shows like this, ONLY accept actors who are SAG-AFTRA (a Union actor) with a reputable film agent.

      I hope this helps you have a better idea on how to prepare: take acting classes, do theater, become an extra on multiple film sets (ie get involved in the industry). If you are involved and are GOOD at your craft, you may have a shot at auditioning for an agent. Once you have a agent, he/she can try to get you an audition for Narnia. But I have to warn you, your chances are slim, considering the acting competition out there. But don’t let that stop you! It’s still possible. Good luck!

  3. Fireberry says:

    Yikes, shades of Kathleen Kennedy Star Wars. Narnia is not “child generated”, Narnia is a vision born from Plato’s world (Christian wing) FOR children. I smell a politically-correct stinkfest coming. Hope I’m wrong!

    • Impending Doom says:

      Honestly, the last thing I’m worried about is Netflix making Narnia too kid-friendly. I’d take this little bit of news as a positive sign.

    • Cleander says:

      Hopefully they just don’t think “kid-friendly” means dorky and insipid….

      • Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

        Not sure what it means for Aldrich, but I have a sinking feeling that in the minds of most movie makers, “kid-friendly” means less slower paced scenes and more action-based gags/jokes. Also tweens being awkward with their feelings for one another, that’s the trope that keeps on giving-_-

    • Peter says:

      I think if Aldrich is testing his scrips on real children, not simply the idea of children, the result will be at least all right.

    • icarus says:

      @Fireberry – That is a huge over-reaction. All the quote says is that the writer often likes to test ideas on his children to see how well they resonate with younger minds, and you have somehow re-interpreted that as a signs of a “politically correct stinkfest” whatever that means.

    • JFG II says:

      To be honest, I hope you’re wrong about that, as well. 🙂

    • mm1991 says:

      Which of his filmography credits would lead you to think he will lean towards a “stinkfest?” None, in my opinion. You are projecting your insecurities of past producers onto Aldrich (which, I know, our fan base has been burned before).

  4. The Rose-Tree Dryad says:

    This nugget of news makes me more hopeful about the Netflix adaptation! I’ve been worried that they’ll try to make it too dark, but it sounds like they are making this for children. You would think that would be a no-brainer because The Chronicles of Narnia is a children’s book series, but everyone wants to have the next Game of Thrones on their hands right now. 😛 So I take this as a good sign, and I think Lewis would approve. 🙂

    • Monty Jose says:

      I agree! My only concern is “when they get bored, he cuts it. When they get excited he adds it”. I met several kids who didn’t like Walden’s LWW because they thought it was boring. Hopefully his kids are more “sophisticated” haha

  5. Col Klink says:

    I….don’t have strong feelings about this, positive or negative. I don’t think it’s great news, as far as capturing the spirit of the books goes, because while C.S. Lewis said that he didn’t put things in the Narnia books that kids wouldn’t like, he also said he didn’t put anything in which he thought kids would like but he, himself, wouldn’t. He didn’t “focus test” Narnia the way Ross describes Aldrich doing. But writing the books for kids was a deliberate decision on his part. He wasn’t forced to write for that audience. So I don’t think it’s terrible news either. (My source for this comes from “On Three Ways of Writing for Children” by C.S. Lewis.)

    • J says:

      Lewis wasn’t forced to ‘focus test’ for children because he wasn’t a father, raising a bunch of kids in early-middle-age like Aldrich. They are bound to approach Narnia differently. Lewis did, slightly, after the Greshams entered his day-to-day life. At least, he took advice from strong-willed Joy who later became his wife. She had kids…

  6. Littllgriz says:

    I think it’s cool

  7. Keeper of Lantern Waste says:

    I have mixed feelings… on the positive side the Harry Potter series only got okayed because publisher’s daughter read part of it said it was amazing, which means younger kids have better taste than we give them credit.

    However, I am worried because while in books you can explain and world build and give exposition without too much trouble, movies generally rely on monologuing and/or forced conversations, and these scenes are not super entertaining in my opinion. They are something that I and my younger self easily get bored from, and I suppose would be cut from a rough draft. (an example I’m thinking of is the weird explanation of Atlantis’ politics in Aquaman)

    My hope is they’ll figure out a creative way to keep the subtler world-building like what the deal is with Silenus and Bacchus or the ‘epilogue’ of HHB, but I suspect they might just not include explanations at all (like the river god in Walden’s PC) which is worse than clunky exposition scenes in my opinion.

  8. Reep says:

    So instead of a person with a vision, we’re getting scripts based on what two random children like and not like? Doesn’t sound great…

    • EH says:

      Reep, I don’t believe that is quite what is happening. Aldrich is working from home, he wants to make his family feel involved, and he’s running dialog by his kids to be sure they can catch the meanings. Great Scott, some of the slang used in the Narnia books might be too aged! But, by the lion’s mane, let’s hope that the script is great and we can all keep our hair in. Hath not one of the poets said, “Shall I forget the words of the children in this lonely time?”
      Honestly, the fact that he is working on the script makes me happy.

  9. JFG II says:

    I don’t have any new insight about this, because this topic is nothing new, I’m afraid. We all know the filmmaking process to an extent, and every filmguy has his methods of inspiration. I’m more interested in speaking my mind:

    I, for one, am glad that most of us comment-posters are being mature about this topic, and not treating NarniaWeb like Twitter. For the rest, if you’re new here, know that we’re NOT Twitter and WON’T respond like it.

    Enjoy you’re time on NarniaWeb. 🙂

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