It's not as if Michael Chabon, 38, hasn't written screenplays before. Or even struggled rehashing, rejiggering, and rewriting them. It's just that he's never had source material quite as frustrating as this: his own Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about two comic-book-creating cousins, Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay. "A lot of things about the book are really a pain in the neck," he says with a laugh. "The story takes place over this huge span of time. There's an 11-year gap in the middle when we don't see the characters at all. Then there's the whole comic-book thing.... I wrote the first draft of the screenplay from memory, as if there were no novel at all and I were just remembering a story that I had heard.... Much less time passes in the movie than in the book. It's really just the period of the war.... This [scene, right] is just after Joe Kavalier"--a role for which producer Scott Rudin and director Sydney Pollack have been talking to Jude Law--"has learned of his brother's death and goes off on the spur of the moment and joins the Navy. He's left [girlfriend] Rosa behind and she's pregnant. At the same time Sammy is left with no one either. So Rosa and Sam end up making a marriage of convenience." Of course, there was no marriage scene in the novel--which makes this one of the rare instances where Chabon actually added material. "I had the feeling a few times that, this ought to have been in the book. That's definitely the way I felt about this little wedding scene between Sammy and Rosa. I had a good time writing it."

IT film composer NEIL FINN

AGE 44 WHY HIM? The consummate pop songwriter and former Crowded House frontman has joined the ranks of rockers scoring films. His atmospheric, pop-based music for Rain--a New Zealand coming-of-age drama that hit art houses this spring--lushly articulates the film's bittersweet nostalgia. WHY HE LIKES WRITING TO PICTURES "You don't start with the blank-page dilemma. You start with a reason to be." MOURNING BECOMES ELECTRIC "I'm not sure how Rain ends up not being really bleak. There is an element of hope in there, and I'm not sure how [the director] pulls it off. That's the way I've always hoped my songs are, as well--there's melancholy, but I don't imagine at any moment there is a desolate feeling." BEST ADVICE "When I was 16, my Uncle George said I should have a girl in my band. It took me over 20 years to take him up on that." (Lisa Germano and Prince alumnae Wendy and Lisa recently joined his combo.) NEXT Finn's experimenting with an orchestra for his next, still-secret score. In July, he tours America to promote a new studio album (One All).

IT tyro Eduardo Rodriguez

AGE 28 WHY HIM? His superbloody 14-minute short Daughter, shot for $18,000, recently went to Cannes and won the Venezuelan former Florida State University film student the ultimate prize: a three-picture deal with Dimension. INFLUENCES Steven Spielberg and James Cameron. DREAM COLLABORATOR "My agents at ICM told me that Clive Barker saw Daughter and he liked it a lot. I'm probably going to get to meet with him. That would be unbelievable." CREATIVE CRUTCH "I have a T-shirt from Universal Studios of E.T. on the bike going over the moon. I love to wear it when I'm directing." NEXT Prepping his first Dimension flick, the drama Symbiosis (which he wrote), for a 2003 shoot.

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