Cassandra Clare talks about the challenges of film and TV adapatations
Barnes and Noble’s Teen blog recently interviewed Cassandra Clare and asked her about her experience with the movie and the TV adaptation of her The Mortal Instruments series. Cassie answered lots of interesting questions about her involvement with the show and her reaction to it very candidly so this interview is a must-read for fans.
We’ve shared parts of Cassie’s interview – titled “Cassandra Clare Shares the Troubles and Triumphs of Seeing the Shadowhunters World Onscreen” – below, but head to Barnes & Noble’s website to read the rest of it:
How do you feel about your stories being translated this way?
Unless you’re able to get a really rare and stellar contract, it’s not up to you whether you have any input into a show or movie made from your work. So it’s been, I guess, an exercise in letting go—but no matter how much you let go, you can’t turn off all your feelings. You still care, more than anyone else in the world, about this story and characters. And you still answer to your fans. It’s always hard when people ask me, “How could you let such and such happen or be changed” in the movies or show, and the answer “it’s just not up to me in any way” is a hard one to give.
So there was definitely a disconnect from the books at first, which must have been hard.
That introduced a lot of confusion for me—what do you do with a show based on your books that isn’t being written for the people who like your books? And of course, it’s Hollywood, where people say pretty shockingly racist, misogynist, and homophobic things to you constantly. People involved in the first season, who are now gone from the show (people know the showrunner left, but not that many of the writers, crew, and even execs also left—basically a whole team left) described a female character of mine to me as “just tits and ass” and told me no one wanted to see a gay character onscreen with a man so a woman would be introduced for him to spend most of his time with. She was described to me as his “soulmate.” And yet, whenever I was tempted to step away, I remembered that I had been able to make some positive changes to the pilot and the direction of the show. Some of the scenes of murdered women were removed or changed. A scene where the hero touches the heroine intimately while she’s passed out was removed.
But that was at the beginning, too. Eventually I realized that having had that impact, I wouldn’t be able to have any more impact. But all that changed when the showrunner left and that whole team left, too, so this second season is a different thing altogether.
Have you visited for season 2?
This year I did a “walkthrough” with Todd and Darren, the new showrunners. Matt Hastings, the production director who was hired this year as well and is great, walked us through all the sets, and I was delighted to see a lot of locations from the books. And the cast got together and gave me a gift, a copy of Clary’s art portfolio that they had all written personal messages on. It was nice to feel reconnected. The set had a good feel to it, like everyone was buzzing and happy in a new way.
What kind of feedback have you gotten from readers?
The show has created a very divided fandom. In its first season especially, it diverged a great deal from the source material, which always creates conflict. The book fans and show fans are pretty separate. But the new showrunners and I would like that to change, we’d like to bring them together, so we have to see how season 2 goes. When I do run into show fans, though, the questions are mostly about whether scenes and plotlines from the books will show up in later seasons—asking about Sebastian is the most popular question. They look very closely for “easter eggs” in the show—mentions of plot points and characters from the books or bits of dialogue.
We really like this interview and we’re crossing our fingers for the rest of season 2!
This season is WAY better than last–different from the books, yes, but the acting is better, the actors seem to actually know the characters better, filming is better, dialogue–just everything. Certain things were introduced last season that they just can’t get out of–ie certain plot lines, introducing characters a certain way and the wrong times, introduction of new characters, etc. But it seems that there is an effort into “trying to right the wrongs” as best as possible and trying to filter in some of the major plot points. Frankly–this season is feeling and looking like I had hoped last season felt and looked. Hopefully Season 3 will happen and the TV story will end up moving forward in the positive direction it is currently!
I love Cassandra Clare!
And whoever said that a character was “just tits and ass” should be punched in the face
Awful show and horrible show-runners. If I were Cassie I wouldn’t hand over the rights to anyone unless I were able to write the screenplay. It’s what you get with Hollywood and their book to show/movie adaptions that completely disregard everything that makes the book good.