Adapting the Book

Director Jannicke Systad Jacobsen based the movie, Turn Me On, Dammit!, on a similarly titled novel by Olaug Nilssen. Written in 2005, the novel tells three related stories, including the story about Alma and her struggles with her sexuality. This particular story stood out to Jacobsen due to its realistic portrayal of female sexuality, so when she began to compose a script based on the book, she eventually chose to focus on Alma’s story. Jacobsen therefore used Nilssen’s original story to write her own screenplay, taking artistic liberties when necessary to ensure viewers would fully understand and enjoy the film, but she still ensured that the story remained true to Nilssen’s book.

Jacobsen’s Adaptation Process
In an interview with Don Simpson, Jannicke Systad Jacobsen described the process she underwent while adapting Nilssen’s novel into a workable screenplay. Nilssen’s book includes three different-but-related stories, so initially, Jacobsen tried to put all of those stories together in the script. However, putting all three stories into one script proved clunky and difficult. Jacobsen said of her initial draft, “it was kind of weird and funny, but it was always the Alma story that stood out.” Therefore, she decided to cut out the other stories and further develop Alma’s story.

Jacobsen worked with Nilssen to ensure that her retelling of Alma’s story remained largely true to the book – even if some details had to be added or changed. Naturally, Jacobsen included important scenes from the book such as Alma screaming out that Artur poked her and Alma’s mother discovering that she had run up huge phone bills by calling sex lines. Jacobsen also worked with Nilssen to more fully understand and recreate the setting of the book. According to Jacobsen, Nilssen based the setting of Turn Me On, Dammit! on the town where she grew up, so Jacobsen inquired heavily about the area and eventually visited Nilssen’s parents in the village. By working with Nilssen to more fully understand the town that the novel was based on, Jacobsen could find ideal shooting locations and formulate the script to more authentically represent the novel.

Deviations from the Book
Naturally, the screenplay does deviate from the novel in certain areas. Though the screenplay does include important details and scenes from the book, Jacobsen had to add in certain scenes, characters, and events in order to expand the short story from the novel into a full-length film. However, when adding these details, Jacobsen ensured that she remained true to the character of the novel.

In the novel, Alma’s story is only forty-four pages long, and it dives straight into the scene where Alma screams out that Artur poked her. Jacobsen therefore had to add an introduction to familiarize the audience with the characters, setting, and other important aspects of the film. To formulate this introduction, Jacobsen took plot points from the book such as Alma’s apparent use of sex hotlines as well as created events to lead up to the initial scene where Alma announces Artur’s advance. Jacobsen also invented other characters and sub-plots such as Sara writing to death row inmates. These deviations therefore served to deepen and advance the plot of Alma’s story while remaining true to the nature of Nilssen’s book.