I’m going to blog more than once this week, and I thought I’d start with Jellicoe because my work as the script writer is now complete.
Readers have told me again and again that Jellicoe, the novel, is magic for them. Always flattering and always at the back of my head as a bench mark for the next novel and the next. This year has been about finding the magic in the script. When I say that I’ve finished working on the Jellicoe script again, it doesn’t mean re-writes per se. I tend to think of the Jellicoe editing as “enhancement’. Remember, that the story itself isn’t what attracted many people to the novel. It was also Taylor’s narrative voice and the structure. In adaptation, the narrative voice is the first to go so it’s been hard work tracking Taylor’s emotional journey without the aid of voice over. But the challenge has been satisfying. I loved writing this prickly angry tough fragile girl in the script as much as I loved writing her in the novel.
One of the more important changes I’ve introduced has revolved around the Boarders. In the novel, all the Boarders are part of Taylor’s faction, but in the script the story takes place during the school holidays and revolves around the thirty or so Boarders who are state wards and are left behind, year after year, because they have nowhere else to go. It establishes a yearning amongst them to win at something for the first time in their lives. They are the perpetual losers in the wars and in life. None of that is said, of course. But it is visually there on their faces when their school mate are picked up by parents. It’s interesting how a scene like that can change the psyche of the script without really having to change much elsewhere.
So this is what happens now. In the New Year, the script gets sent to the funding bodies and distributors. It’s never been so tough to make a film in this country as now, so I’ve been told often enough that this draft has to be close to perfect. No pressure there. And then it’s not just about the script. Films are hard to finance without a big international name. You can’t really blame those who fund films for asking, because then you’ll have to ask yourself when was the last time you went to see a film that didn’t have a big name or when was the last time you paid to see a film with unknown Aussie actors. I’d love to make a great film with unknown Aussie actors because I have seen so much remarkable young talent in the auditions. I’d also love to make a great film with an international name although young international names are hard to get because they have a team of people looking after them and it’s difficult to get a script into their hands. It’ doesn’t mean we won’t try to and it doesn’t mean we’ll go for an a-lister, because sometimes an up-and-coming actor is as important and just as talented (think Jennifer Lawrence for those of you who, like me, went to see Winter’s Bone and realized she was an up and coming actor. Very few film goers knew who she was when she was cast as Katniss).
So I haven’t lost faith in Jellicoe being made in 2015. And watch this space early in the year because there will be some interesting stuff online to get the momentum going.
On a much more personal note, we celebrated my daughter’s birthday yesterday. It’s been exactly a year since she came to live with me. It’s interesting that so many people have asked me whether the subject material in my writing has been influenced by having her in my life this year. The novel I’ve completed is a thriller set in London revolving around two bombings, thirteen years apart, and the impact it has on the family of the accused. So no influence at all, but a fair enough question.
Next year I’ll speak more about the novel, but for now I’ll share this image of the birthday girl.