Grade 10 English Works with Filmmaker Rick Cowan

By Oliver Stevenson '22 and Ivy Gerwing Hawkins '22

For the past two months, English 10 has been studying William Golding’s 1954 novel Lord of the Flies. As the final project for this unit, we were tasked with adapting the novel to a film and exploring how the themes in Lord of the Flies could be seen through various adaptations, with different settings, characters and plotlines.

then had the privilege to present our film pitch to Richard Cowan, director, screenwriter and producer (and WPGA parent!). Mr. Cowan’s films include IT, The Cabin and Into the Storm. Mr. Cowan discussed how writers pitch their ideas in the film industry and his experience in this process. 

Afterward, we split into groups to discuss ideas for our film pitches. The objective was to take the central themes and ideas of Lord of the Flies and apply them to a new setting. In our groups, we discussed many ideas, such as how the themes of the novel would play out in a modern setting or with female characters. We also spent time focusing on how a film writer gets their pitch to be noticed and adapted. For example, how to make your ideas stand out and the best ways to present them. After coming up with plotlines and how we would incorporate important elements of the novel into our pitch, we presented our ideas to the class. One thing we found difficult was that we only had three minutes to present our ideas, in order to mimic pitch meetings in the film industry. In this short time, we had to address characters, plotlines, settings, why our ideas were special, and more.

We found it interesting that everyone came up with original and creative 
ideas, and no ideas were repeated. Some of these ideas included a science fiction adaptation, a Christmas-themed adaptation, and an Indiana Jones style adaption. Following our presentations, we received feedback from Mr. Cowan on how to improve our pitches. He praised each group before highlighting the group that he thought did exceptionally well, that is, whose idea he would be most interested in adapting further. 

This experience taught us the inner workings of the film industry and helped us achieve a deeper understanding of the novel, including underlying themes, characters and symbols. We're grateful to have worked with Mr. Cowan, and this
project was a fun and creative way to end our grade 10 year.