From book to film: What’s coming in 2013?

The Great Gatsby isn’t the only book-to-film adaptation to be released this year. Dominic Keating rounds up some of the highlights in coming months.

On 26 July, yet another adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet will be brought to cinemas, this one taking a more traditional approach than Baz Luhrman’s mid-90s film. Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld will play the roles of the forbidden lovers, with Ed Westwick to play Tybalt, Damien Lewis to play Lord Capulet and Paul Giamatti joining the cast as Friar Laurence. Italian Carlo Carlei will direct.

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Film adaptation: The Weight of Elephants

Sonya Hartnett’s novel Of a Boy (Penguin) has been adapted into a film. The Weight of Elephants was shot in Southland, New Zealand, in March 2012. It is the feature film debut from New Zealand writer-director Daniel Joseph Borgman, and stars young New Zealand actors Demos Murphy and Angelina Cottrell. Read more about the film here.

Adaptations at the 84th Acadamy Awards 2012

Four book-to-film adaptations won Oscars at the 84th Academy Awards after a slew of nominations for 13 adaptations. Hugo was the big winner, which was nominated for 11 Oscars and won five.

Oscar winners

Hugo based on The Invention of Hugo Cabretby Brian Selznick (Scholastic) won Academy Awards in several categories. Awards included Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing , Best Sound Mixing, Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects.Nominations included Best Picture, Best Director (Martin Scorsese), Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, Best Music Original Score and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Descendants,based on the novel of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings (Vintage), won the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. The screenplay was written by Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash.The film was also nominated for Best picture, Best Actor (George Clooney, who played Matt King), Best Director and Best Film Editing.

The Help based on the novel of the same name by Kathryn Stockett (Penguin)was awarded Best Supporting Actress to Octavia Spencer for her role as Minny Jackson.Nominations included Best Picture, Best Actress (Viola Davis as Aibileen Clark), Best Supporting Actress (Jessica Chastain as Celia Foote).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the US film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Stieg Larsson (Quercus), won the award for Best Film Editing.Nominations for the film included Best Actress (Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander), Best Cinematography, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.

Other nominations
War Horse
, based both on the novel of the same name by Michael Morpurgo (HarperCollins) and the stage adaptation, was nominated for Best Picture (Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy), Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Original Score (John Williams), Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing.

Moneyball, based on Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis (W W Norton) was nominated for Best Picture (Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt), Best Actor (Brad Pitt as Billy Beane), Best Supporting Actor (Jonah Hill as Peter Brand), Best Film Editing, Sound Mixing and  Best Adapted Screenplay.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer (Penguin), was nominated for Best Picture (Scott Rudin) and Best Supporting Actor (Max von Sydow as The Renter)

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, based on the novel by John le Carré (Hodder), was nominated for Best Actor (Gary Oldman as George Smiley), Best Original Score and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Albert Nobbs, based on the novel by George Moore (Penguin US), was nominated for Best Actress (Glenn Close as Albert Nobbs), Best Supporting Actress (Janet McTeer as Hubert Page) and Best Makeup.

My Week with Marilyn, based on The Prince, The Showgirl and Me and My Week with Marilyn by Colin Clark (Perseus), was nominated for Best Actress (Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe) and Best Supporting Actor (Kenneth Brangah as Laurence Olivier).

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2, based on the novel by J K Rowling (Bloomsbury), was nominated for Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects and Best Makeup.

Jane Eyre based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë (various imprints), was nominated  for Best Costume Design. Drive based on the novel by James Sallis (No Exit Press), was nominated for Best Sound Editing.

Sanna Nyblad is an intern at Bookseller+Publisher.

Page to screen: summer edition

This year we’ve had The Help, Norwegian Wood, We Need to Talk about Kevin and who could forget Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1. The book-to-movie adaptations continue this summer, beginning with several high-profile Boxing Day releases.

One of the most-anticipated adaptations has to be The Adventures of Tintin (Boxing Day), based on three of Herge’s comics: The Crab with the Golden Claws, The Secret of the Unicorn and Red Rackham’s Treasure (all Egmont Books). This 3D adaptation is directed by Steven Spielberg, produced by Peter Jackson, and has Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig and Andy Serkis in starring roles.

Stephen Spielberg is also the director behind the World War One drama War Horse (Boxing Day), adapted from Michael Morpurgo’s bestselling children’s novel of the same name (Hardie Grant Egmont). The story has also been turned into a successful theatre production and after stints in London and New York, a local production will open in Melbourne in late 2012.

We Bought a Zoo (Boxing Day) is a comedy-drama directed by Cameron Crowe and starring Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson and a menagerie of animals. The movie is based on Benjamin Mee’s memoir of the same name (HarperCollins), which tells of how the author and his young family came to own a dilapidated zoo in the English countryside. The movie, however, is set in Southern California.

Thankfully, the new movie adaptation of John le Carré’s spy novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (January) remains faithfully British, with Colin Firth and Gary Oldman in the lead roles. The novel is published by Hodder.

Also out in January is a second Sherlock Holmes movie adaptation from director Guy Ritchie, again starring Robert Downey Junior as the detective and Jude Law as Dr Watson. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original stories are available in various imprints but for something new, check out Anthony Horowitz’s authorised Sherlock Holmes novel The House of Silk (Orion).

Brian Selznick’s multi-award-winning children’s novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic), which combines elements of picture book, graphic novel and film, was always going to be a tempting project for an ambitious filmmaker. The story of an orphan living in the walls of a Paris train station in the 1930s has been turned into a 3D film, simply titled Hugo (January), by Martin Scorsese.

The Descendants (January) is a quirky comedy-drama starring George Clooney as a man who finds out his wife has been having an affair after a boating accident lands her in a coma. It’s based on a novel of the same name by Hawaiian author Kaui Hart Hemmings (Vintage).

Next year marks the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death and one of several biopics in production is My Week with Marilyn (January), directed by Simon Curtis and starring Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh as Monroe and Laurence Olivier. It’s based on two books by Colin Clark (My Week with Marilyn and The Prince, The Showgirl and Me, both HarperCollins) about the making of the 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl.

The US adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s ‘Millennium Trilogy’ kicks off in January with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher and starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. A new movie-tin in edition is being published by Pan Macmillan.

A movie adaptation of Jonathan Safron Foer’s novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Penguin), which draws on the events of September 11, will be released in late February after initial plans to release it on the 10th anniversary of the attack were scuttled. The movie is directed by Stephen Daldry and stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.

Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe tackles another book-to-movie adaptation with The Woman in Black (February), based on Susan Hill’s thriller of the same name (Profile). The book has also been adapted into one of the longest running stage plays.

On the smaller screen, Gabrielle Lord’s ‘Conspiracy 365’ series has been adapted as an interactive TV series for the Family Movie Channel, with 13 episodes to screen monthly from January 2012 to January 2013. The story follows 15-year-old fugitive Callum Ormond as he searches for the truth behind a deadly family secret, and features a local cast including RocKwiz’s Julia Zemiro.

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: S J Watson on ‘Before I Go to Sleep’ (Text Publishing)

Andrea Hanke spoke to S J Watson about his experience as a pupil in the Faber Academy’s first novel-writing course in the UKand the resulting novel Before I Go to Sleep, out this month from Text Publishing.

 

S J Watson doesn’t have a conventional background as a writer, if indeed such a thing exists. The UK physics graduate worked for many years for the National Health Service in London while dabbling with writing on the side, until he decided ‘that to be truly happy in myself I would need to stop thinking of my writing as a hobby and give it the space and time that increasingly I thought it deserved’.

In 2008 Watson was accepted into the Faber Academy’s first six-month-long ‘Writing a Novel’ Course, a program that covers all aspects of the novel-writing process, and offers guest seminars by well-known writers, agents and publishers. The program is due to begin in Australia this year.

‘I loved every moment of being on the course, and really can’t praise it highly enough! I met, and learned from, some wonderful writers, and I made some lifelong friends. I learned so much—everything from how to capture the essence of a character to how to write a synopsis and pitch your book to an agent—but it was also incredible just to be surrounded by people who took their writing as seriously as I did, and who understood what the writing life involves.’

On the last night of the Faber course Watson was introduced to literary agent Clare Conville (of Conville & Walsh in London), who had been invited to speak to the class on what she looked for in a manuscript. ‘We chatted afterwards and Clare asked me what my book was about. Luckily we’d been working that week on a “25-word pitch” to use in just such a situation! Mine was, “My book is about a woman with no memory who has to rediscover her past every day …” (There was more, but I don’t want to give away the plot!) She said she’d like to read it, and so when I finished I sent it straight to her. She liked it and, after a few more weeks editing, sent it out to publishers she thought might be interested.’

The amnesiac character is a familiar trope in soap operas, the source of mirth in the romantic comedy 50 First Dates and the subject of the psychological thriller Memento, which bears the closest resemblance to Watson’s novel. But Watson says his story came to him after reading the obituary of a man who had undergone surgery for epilepsy in 1953, which left him incapable of forming new memories, living constantly in the past.

‘I wondered how it must feel to look at oneself in a mirror in 2008, expecting to see the same person as 55 years earlier, and straight away the character of Christine came to me. After that, it was just a case of working out her story, and how a woman in her position might tell it.’

Before I Go to Sleep has made headlines for the Faber graduate after it was sold into over 30 languages and acquired for film by Ridley Scott’s production company, ‘an absolute dream come true,’ says Watson. ‘I met with the producer and writer/director and straight away could see that they understood the heart of the book and would make a film that reflected that. It’s going to be weird to see my book on the big screen, but I can’t wait!’

Andrea Hanke is editor of Bookseller+Publisher magazine. This interview first appeared in the April issue.

‘Addition’ rights sales add up

With the film rights to her debut novel Addition just sold, and a new novel—Fall Girl—due in October, things are looking pretty good for Toni Jordan. And that’s before you mention that Addition has now sold into (count them), 16 territories: the US, Brazil, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Portugal, Quebec, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, the UK and Italy.

Fancy Goods asked the author which of her many international covers she liked best. ‘That’s like choosing between offspring,’ she says. ‘Right now, I love the Italian one [left], but that might just be because it’s the newest. And I really want that coat.’

For Jordan, the international covers are something of a surprise. ‘Even though I don’t have jacket approval in my Australian contract, the publishers were fantastic in showing me their ideas and discussing them with me,’ she says. ‘My first Australian jacket was the toothbrushes. I loved it from the beginning. Kinda quirky, kinda sexy.’

‘The overseas jackets I have no input into whatsoever. They just appear in the mail.’ Continue reading

Film Adaptation: Tomorrow, When the War Began

Stuart Beattie

Tomorrow, When the War Began is such a cherished book that adapting it to a movie was a major challenge for Stuart Beattie, but the producer looks happy and relaxed on stage, confident that he’s created something the kids (and the ones that have grown-up) will enjoy. At a premiere screening after a book signing at the Jam Factory in Melbourne, Beattie and the cast answer questions about the film.

‘John Marsden allowed me to make the movie because he wanted someone who has read the books and saw the books as a fan, rather than someone who just wanted to profit from it,’ says Beattie, one of many film producers to approach author John Marsden about adapting his book Tomorrow, When the War Began. Beattie who previously worked on Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, has used his skills to make a film quite true to the book, that has an action-packed style comparable to anything coming out of Hollywood, with the warmth and humour of an Australian drama.

Caitlin Stasey and Rachel Hurd-Wood

Ellie Linton, the main protagonist, is played by the outgoing Caitlin Stasey, an actor many teens will recognise from Neighbours. ‘I’m the only one who hasn’t read the books,’ she admits to the friendly taunts of the other cast members. The story focusses on Ellie’s relationships with her friends, specifically her best friend Corrie (played by Rachel Hurd-Wood). When Corrie cries, Ellie is there to comfort her. Corrie has a relationship with Kevin, played by Home and Away actor Lincoln Lewis, but their relationship becomes strained during the course of the movie. An angsty relationship also begins between Ellie and Lee (played by Chris Pang) during the movie.

The film cast sign books in Borders South Yarra, before the screening of 'Tomorrow When the War Began'

The idea of an invasion of Australia is central to the story, but the identity of the invading army was kept secret in the book. Marsden says he didn’t want ‘people to use the books to justify some racist belief they may hold’. The invaders are Asian in appearance, but no particular country of origin is identified. Beattie says, ‘John (Marsden) was very smart in keeping the identity of the invaders vague. With a movie about politics and the motivation behind war you need to know the countries involved. This is really a drama about eight kids, so the country of the invaders is not really important’. Beattie says the logical choice for the invaders was from one of Australia’s neighbouring countries, but he treats the Asian identity as unimportant to the story, and uses the invasion as a device to unleash the drama without looking for underlying motivations of war. As Homer, one of the characters in the film (played by Deniz Akdeniz) says, ‘It doesn’t matter who they are. They’re here now. What difference does a flag make?’

The audience of teenagers at the premiere screening find plenty of laughs in the movie, especially from Homer the prankster. Often humour is also used to deflect bad occurrences during the war. Action scenes are graphic and shocking, but for today’s teens who are immune to screen violence, there’s nothing they can’t handle. The film does show how awkward and fragile the teenagers can be in matters of love and especially when fighting back, where their military strategies are based on luck.

As well as a story of survival, it is about the loss of innocence, epitomised by a scene with Ellie sitting in her cubby house. Ellie finds it hard to come to grips with the death of soldiers and says, ‘At what point do we loose our souls if we haven’t already?’ The character development from the begging to the end of the film shows a real change, because of their experience of the war.

One noticeable difference from the book is that the movie has been updated for the digital age. The movie begins with Ellie talking into a video camera instead of writing out the story in a notebook. When the characters all arrive back in Wirrawee they all check their phones at the same time and find no signal. ‘It was only logical that when they would all have cell phones, when Ellie wanted to talk to Corrie she was Skyping to her rather than sitting in a cafe, and the laptop would still have battery power when she checked the internet,’ says Beattie.

Phoebe Tonkin and Deniz Akdeniz

Some little things have changed in the story, which happens with every adaptation. Beattie says, ‘When we were writing the script, John (Marsden) kept away and that’s probably the best thing he could’ve done. The movie is a different animal than the book, and John knows that.’ The characters are slightly more exaggerated versions of the book characters. Fiona (Phoebe Tonkin) is the rich-girl stereotype, Robyn (Ashleigh Cummings) is the uber-Christian and Chris (Andy Ryan) is a complete stoner (something barely mentioned in the books). There’s also a cameo by Colin Friels, who is excellent as the crazy dentist Dr Clements.

Beattie does include an in-joke when Corrie is reading My Brilliant Career (Miles Franklin). Ellie asks, ‘Good Book?’ Corrie replies, ‘Yeah. Better than the movie.’ Ellie says, ‘Books usually are’.

Tomorrow, When the War Began opens in cinemas nationally on 2 September. Film tie-in editions of the book (Pan Macmillan) are currently available in bookshops. Movie and television sequels will follow if the film is successful.

Read Andrew Wrathall’s article on John Marsden’s response to the movie in the August edition of Bookseller+Publisher magazine.

The ones to watch

Another year, another slew of films based on books nominated at the Academy Awards (including Precious, left, which this year took out best adapted screenplay). We love a good movie adaptation, so here are a few more book-to-screen projects to look out for.

First up, if you haven’t already heard, Stieg Larsson’s bestseller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Quercus) has been adapted to screen as a Swedish-language film and is showing in Australian cinemas from 25 March 2010.

Then there are all the Australian bestsellers being adapted for the screen: Marcus Zusak’s The Book Thief (Pan Macmillan) is due to be released by Fox this year; Christos Tsiolkas’ bestseller The Slap (A&U) is to be made into a television series by Matchbox Pictures; and the film adaptation of John Marsden’s Tomorrow, When The War Began (Pan) is set to be released in cinemas on 2 September 2010. (The latter drew a bit of controversial attention last year when Marsden appeared on ABC’s Q&A and said the nationality of the invading country in the book will not be identified, to avoid fuelling racist sentiment.)

Books by Tim Winton are looking like they might come to the screen too. Simon Baker, star of The Mentalist, teamed up with producer Mark Johnson to acquire feature rights to Tim Winton’s novel Breath (Penguin), and Matthew Saville, who directed Noise and several episodes of We Can Be Heroes and Secret Life of Us, will turn Winton’s Cloudstreet (Penguin) into a six-hour miniseries on pay-TV channel Showcase.

If all goes to plan, several international books set to become movies in the future, including Headhunters (Berkley Publishing) by Jules Bass. Selena Gomez will play one of the three lead roles with Nicole Kidman producing and possibly playing a supporting role. Sascha Rothchild will adapt her own book How to Get Divorced by 30: My Misguided Attempt at a Starter Marriage (Penguin) as a romantic comedy and will also be executive producer. Robert De Niro will star opposite Bradley Cooper in the film adaptation of The Dark Fields (Alan Glynn, Little, Brown). Anthony Hopkins will star in The Rite, a supernatural thriller adapted from Matt Baglio’s book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist (Simon & Schuster) and French producers Aton Soumache and Dimitri Rassam have secured the rights to make a 3D animated film adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.

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Bestsellers: Stieg, Stieg and more Stieg

Yawn. Sorry, but Stieg Larsson continues to dominate the Bestseller charts with his three ‘Millennium’ trilogy books nabbing the top three spots and with the film of the first book due to open in a couple of weeks we’re guessing that isn’t about to change dramatically. Elsewhere, Belinda Alexandra’s Tuscan Rose comes in at number one in the Highest New Entries chart followed by The Silent Sea by Clive Cussler. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks moves the fastest in the Fastest Movers chart this week, thanks to the release of the movie of the same name—Weekly Book Newsletter.

The Road: mourning the film that could have been

John Hillcoat’s The Road opens with the glow of sunlight, a series of dreamy images, wordless; a filmic, visual equivalent of a beautifully written phrase. Though it’s not the opening of the book, for these moments it seems the film I hope for from Cormac McCarthy’s Pulitzer-winning novel is about to unfold. Seconds later, the dead dark world of the author’s imagined present appears, and not long after that we hear the voice of ‘the man’, Viggo Mortensen’s gentle, exhausted tones doing away, in only a handful of sentences, with the film that could have been.

Where McCarthy spools out his hints and clues scene by scene, leaving incidents and words to be woven together by the reader, Mortensen tells us straight up the exact nature and shape of the dangers faced in this world. There will be no unfolding, it is all laid bare.

What is left will be a series of scenes reiterating what we already know, all possibilities for drama heightened (it is a film after all), but perhaps falling flat for anyone who thought the exhausting tension of the book might have made it to the screen in a smaller, quieter way. In a world where a shrivelled years old apple can grow large as a feast and a row of tinned goods is overwhelming, enough drama can surely be found in the small things.

I am being picky because I loved the book. And much of what I loved survives the journey to film—the bond between the son and his father (‘papa’, as McCarthy’s son apparently calls his own father), the moral murkiness. Some scenes are more affecting on the screen than the page, Continue reading