From page to screen: Philipp Meyer’s “The Son”

Remember that book I proclaimed should be considered a Great American Novel? Philipp Meyer’s The Son? Well, it is now a TV show—premiering this Saturday night on AMC.

When it was first announced that they were making the book into a TV show, I was a little hesitant. Firstly, everyone knows the book is always better than its screen adaptation. Add to that a saturated TV market and a wide-ranging epic novel that takes place over the course of nearly two hundred years, I thought the task would be nearly impossible to pull it off successfully.

Photo from AMC’s Facebook page.

Then, however, I learned that Meyer would be on the writing team as an Executive Producer, not only helping to adapt the book into a screenplay but also assisting on set to lend insight into the characters, plot or other generic scene details. Instantly I felt better. It was like hearing that Neil Gaiman would be doing the same for the new Starz American Gods show (which is also happening).

According to a New York Times article, Meyer was extremely influential in the creation of the show.

“It’s rare for novelists to wield this much influence over screen adaptations of their work. They may get an executive producer credit and an occasional ceremonial visit to the set, yet typically they just cash their checks and move on to their next novels. But Mr. Meyer is far from typical. Bald and muscular, with a square jaw and thick beard, he’s handy with pistols, rifles and hunting bows, and looks more at home on a working cattle ranch than most M.F.A. graduates. He wrote three of the episodes in the first season, and rewrote the rest. And he was a near constant presence on the set throughout the five months of filming, weighing in on casting, props, costumes and the choreography of battle scenes.”

I have been anticipating this premiere for months. Pretty much since they first announced the show. AMC rarely misses with its shows—The Walking Dead, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Preacher, Into The Badlands, etc.

So who did AMC get to play the patriarch, Eli McCullough? Just Pierce Brosnan.

Between the novel, the production, the network and the cast, this show has extremely high expectations (at least from fans like myself).

The show has now been in the works for more than two years. And if it follows the same process that Meyer used to write the novel, that is a good thing.

Photo Credit: James Minchin/AMC.

“My original conceptions for books are always terrible,” Meyer admitted during a 2013 interview with Waterstones. “They’re always weak. They’re always cliche. It’s only what comes after working a couple years on something—that’s when you get the meat of it.”

For any other fans of Philipp Meyer, The Son, AMC, Westerns or just plain talented people, I would be very interested in your take on the novel and the adaptation.

You can get to know the author with this interview, and check out the show’s trailer below.


Published by Ed A. Murray

Ed A. Murray is an author, freelance writer, digital marketer and blogger dedicated to impactful storytelling. He writes about writing, books, marketing and life, and has published three books of fiction.

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