Making the leap from a story into a screenplay is not an easy task — whether that story is a popular memoir or novel, a centuries-old play or a ripped-from-the-headlines tabloid tale. But the best screenwriters find ways to use the medium of cinema to create a companion to the original text.

As part of Variety’s FYC Fest, five screenwriters spoke to Variety’s Angelique Jackson about the way they balanced keeping the integrity of the story intact, while also translating it in a way that will work for the big screen.

Panelists included “Cyrano” screenwriter Erica Schmidt, “House of Gucci” screenwriter Roberto Bentivegna, “The Tender Bar” screenwriter William Monahan, “Passing” writer and director Rebecca Hall and “The Lost Daughter” writer and director Maggie Gyllenhaal, who all shared how they approached adapting the source material and the journey these stories took from the page to the screen.

With “Passing,” which adapts Nella Larsen’s 1929 novella by the same name, Hall digs deep into the legacy of racial passing and found other underlying messages in Larsen’s text that she aimed to depict in the film.

“It’s an incredibly restrained book that deals with many different layers of meaning — beyond the surface sort of meaning that it’s telegraphing,” Hall said. “It’s using racial passing as a metaphor for all these other ways in which our desires don’t match up with the thing that we think we ought to be.”

“The Lost Daughter,” adapted from Elena Ferrante’s 2006 novel, shows the gray areas in motherhood, with Gyllenhaal explaining why she wanted to showcase those complex feelings on screen.

“I wanted to make a film of it because what if — instead of being alone in our rooms with these books, having this electrifying feeling of truth being spoken out loud — what if it was actually spoken out loud,” Gyllenhaal shared. “What if we were in a movie theater, where you could hear these things about being a woman, a mother, a lover and a thinker — sitting next to your mother, or your husband, or your daughter.”

Schmidt first adapted Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play “Cyrano de Bergerac” into a stage musical, but made new revelations about the story when adapting the story for the film “Cyrano.”

“When I was looking at it as a screenplay, the songs became this amazing canvas where the story could continue to happen as the songs were revealing something about the interior life of the character,” Schmidt said. “That, to me, was really a great joy in trying to write the screenplay.”

When adapting the real-life tale of the Gucci family, Bentivegna started with Sara Gay Forden’s “The House of Gucci.” He then tapped into his personal knowledge of the story, which rocked his hometown of Milan, with hundreds of articles written about the Guccis in order to bring a fresh and nuanced perspective to the story.

“I knew there were many attempts made to tell the story, which was actually kind of freeing because I felt like I had absolutely nothing to lose,” Bentivegna recalled, detailing how he used Patrizia Gucci (played by Lady Gaga) as the guiding light for his narrative. “I wanted to have fun with that character and have it be larger than life and operatic.”

While Schmidt, Bentivegna, Hall and Gyllenhaal are all celebrating their first produced feature screenplays, Monahan won the best adapted screenplay Oscar for “The Departed” in 2007. Despite his veteran status, Monahan still had to overcome a major challenge with his latest film, “The Tender Bar” — the fact that it’s so many people’s favorite book.

“It obviously spoke to a lot of people and, that makes you a little apprehensive, you know?” Monahan admitted, discussing the pressure he felt to effectively translate the story to the screen. “What appealed to me most about the book was the fact that it was more unusual than people think.”

Watch the full conversation in the video above.