On movies and casting

Whew. So on any given day, this is a lot of my inbox. Movies, casting, movies, is there any movie news, casting.

I thought I’d say a few things and then tag it with the “movie” tag so I can just go back and point at it if people have questions. 

When you’re an author, movies are that thing — that thing that breaks your heart, usually. Not that many books get optioned for film. Of those that do get optioned, a tiny fraction get made. No rhyme or reason seems to be applied to what gets made and what doesn’t. While being a blockbuster hit does increase your chances that there’ll be a movie (and there is some point at which you have sold enough copies that a movie is basically inevitable, but that point is in the tens of millions), yet many popular series go unmade as films while books no one has heard of get made into movies all the time. Movies are made out of books that are so unlike the books they’re based on you wonder why they didn’t just write an unrelated script (The Dark is Rising) while others are extremely faithful to the source material. Because you are dealing with something that has a gazillion moving parts, stop-start production (“It’s moving ahead, now it’s not, now it is, now it’s not”) is the norm: there are some movies that get fast-tracked, like the new Spiderman, or The Hunger Games, and so people think that’s what’s normal for a film, but it’s not. Those are exceptions.

*pokes Holly Black* I have been friends with Holly since 2002 or so when the Spiderwick books were optioned for films. The film came out in 2008. That is considered very fast, but I do remember that the interim years were filled with stop-start production, dozens of different scripts and ideas, times when lots of stuff was happening and long stretches when nothing was happening. That’s normal. 

Now, I am not saying “Everyone calm down! They will make the City of Bones movie!” Because, TBH, I have no more idea than anyone else whether they will make it. I have always tried, and I genuinely apologize if I was misleading, to be clear that — as it says on my website — they are developing the book as a movie project and the movie isn’t greenlit. 

(“Greenlit”: meaning, the studio has signed off on making this film and they are rolling cameras.) 

That doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Things continue to happen, chugging along behind the scenes, but either the sort of things I’ve been asked not to talk about (and trust me, you don’t care — no one out there is hanging around wondering breathlessly “Have they costed this film yet?”), or the kind of things I don’t know about because I am like fiftieth down on the food chain of finding out about anything.

The kind of thing mostly readers care about is casting — and casting further than the leads is almost certainly not going to happen until the film is greenlit. And if that ever happens, I promise I will tell you. I have no reason to keep casting news to myself if I have it, and equally no way of knowing who they might be looking at for parts in the future. There are all sorts of websites — Ain’t it Cool, Collider, Deadline — that follow this stuff and they are always going to know more than I do.

As for IMDB, it is often incorrect, because before a film is greenlit, anyone can edit the page for it, because the movie is basically “not real yet.” I can’t fix IMDB and mostly don’t pay attention to it. The only detail to look for on IMDB is to check whether the movie is listed as “in pre-production” or “in production.” Otherwise the casting information on my website is accurate.

How much of a hand did I have in choosing the actors? Basically none. I didn’t know Lily was cast until I found out by reading the news, and I knew Jamie was one of the frontrunners for the part of Jace (a fact which was also in the news) but I didn’t know they cast him until they had. I did get to watch his audition, as well as the auditions for some of the other frontrunners. Jamie’s was by far the best.

Does it upset me that people aren’t happy? Sure, in an ideal world I suppose everyone would be delighted, but I’d rather upset over apathy. Every successful book to movie project I can think of involved people hating the cast. I see .gifs of the Harry Potter movie kids now and how people don’t just embrace them, they’re literally part of their lives, and I remember with amusement how much people hated their casting. Hated, hated, hated it. Especially Tom Felton, poor guy, and he was like … 11. And when Sirius and Remus got cast, that was another outpouring of rage.  Nobody (famously) liked the casting for Twilight, and nobody liked the casting for the Hunger Games initially either. Suzanne had to come out and publically support Jennifer Lawrence’s casting. And fans despised the casting for Lord of the Ringsthought they were insane for casting Elijah Wood to play a character who was supposed to be fifty. In fact, if I pop back over to the 1999 Ain’t It Cool News page where they broke the story of his casting, the second comment is entitled “Terrible News.There goes the movie…What other bad decisions are in store for us?” 

And we all know how that turned out. (Three SAG awards for him, a Best Picture Oscar for the films, most beloved fantasy movies ….ever. Terrible news indeed!)

The thing is, what changes people’s mind about casting is images. Seeing Jennifer as Katniss, seeing Elijah as Frodo, even seeing Dan as Harry in promo stills is what stops this kind of hating — that, and a good performance in the movie, ideally, but basically, what ends it is pictures. And there are not yet any images of Jamie and Lily as Jace and Clary so this is pretty much how I expect it to be until there are.

As for “Are they definite?” — yes, they’re definite as in they’re contracted to play the parts. Stuff happens. Famously Stuart Townsend was cast as Aragorn in Lord of the Rings, flew to New Zealand, filmed for a couple days, it didn’t work out, he got fired/left/whatever, and was replaced by Viggo Mortensen.


(Movie Posters That Never Were)

I cannot predict the future. But for all intents and purposes Lily and Jamie are Clary and Jace, which is why I don’t reblog/favorite/really look at fanart or manips that use other actors. No point. (Especially Alex Pettyfer – I have nothing against him personally (he’s quite nice on the phone!) but I don’t understand ‘dream-casting’ someone who specifically didn’t want the part. Although it is kind of funny to watch him actually get older in real life while the pictures used to portray him as Jace remain pictures taken in 2009. It reminds me of the line from Dazed and Confused — “That’s why I love high school girls. I get older. They stay the same age.”) 

I guess one thing I would say is that I had to unfollow a Jamie Campbell Bower fan blog/twitter/thing *is vague as possible* I was following, because they were really negative about the City of Bones movie due to the fact that they thought the fans were mean and obnoxious. Now, I don’t think my fans are mean and obnoxious, hence the unfollowing. I also respect the right of readers to dislike casting and say so. However, I do think if you’re going to post about how you don’t like Jamie as Jace, tagging said posts with his name is probably something that Miss Manners would not approve of. Most people who search out a tag on tumblr do so because they are enthusiastic about whatever the tagged thing is. Jamie is a popular actor and singer, and a  talented, good-looking and by all accounts extremely nice and funny guy, so he justifiably has many fans of his own. They probably don’t know or care about Jace, and following Jamie’s tags on tumblr and coming across a lot of hate is probably like merrily walking along the street and suddenly being hit in the face with a wet fish. I speak not as an author here but simply as a User of the Internet: say what you want, but think before you tag, no?

Anyway, that’s the sum-up: I don’t have any hand in casting, but I am pleased with the cast so far; I am pleased with the script; I hope things roll along, and in the meantime, you are free to say/think/do what you like, but no matter how lovely your manip of Nemo the Clown Fish as Jace is, I probably won’t reblog it as it’s confusing. When I know news, I will announce it. There is absolutely zero chance I know anything I could possibly tell you about the movie process and am holding it back because I think people aren’t interested. :) I know you are interested, and I appreciate it, whatever form that interest takes. In the meantime, we can always talk about the books, the one thing I actually do have a say in!


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    yes thats right this broke my heart completely
  8. weliveandbreathepumpkins reblogged this from theshadowhunterscodex and added:
    Whew. So on any given day, this is a lot of my inbox. Movies, casting, movies, is there any movie news, casting. I...
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  14. evergreen18 reblogged this from cassandraclare and added:
    Thanks Cassandra!
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  16. moonlightmishap reblogged this from cassandraclare and added:
    Oh Cassandra Clare, you give me hope. You made a good point about Harry Potter, although I can never remember hating the...
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