TMI cast + credits
Going through and clearing out my camera I found this totes cute picture of the little girls who played Past!Clary in the TMI movie.
TW: Swearing, and use of the word “bitch.” Not my favorite word, but unfortunately has to be used in this context because I’m quoting what others have said. Also TW for a ton of sexism, again, in narratives I’m quoting/describing.
"Hey, just thought I’d say that I love your books (I’ve only read the city of bones and now working my way through the city of ashes) and I was just wondering, did you have any control over how the film was made?? as I was kinda annoyed about how much it deviated from the book. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good film (great cast to be honest), it just didn’t seem to match the book at all. I really hope I don’t sound rude, I was just wondering :3 thanks — [redacted]"
The thing about this question is that the answer is complicated. (I’ve usually seen this framed as either “Cassie had no control” or “Cassie had 100% control over everything!”) but the answer is more layered than that.
Movies are put together by a lot of people: they are in fact put together by a lot of departments. I did have influence over casting. (Not final say. Not ever final say over anything. But influence, yes.) Because casting is one department, and I and the casting director enjoyed working with each other. I’ve often talked about being asked about sets and props, because that’s a different department, and I did get asked about those things. Those are the things I usually talk about in interviews when I’m asked about this, because that’s where I had the most input.
As for the storyline and script, I got asked what I thought, and I gave notes and my opinion. I gave I would guess about 100 pages of notes over the course of the film. The thing about scripts and screenplays is that everyone gives notes. All the producers give notes. The studio people give notes. Usually everyone’s drowning in notes. My notes were not any more important than anyone else’s notes.
There were only a few issues that were “walk-away” issues for me — whitewashing Magnus, straightwashing Alec — and those were listened to, and so I stayed and tried to give my opinion and accepted that it would be taken some of the time and not taken at other times. It’s also not as if I was a huge expert on filmmaking — I knew that scripts get rewritten as the movie is filmed, but when I sat down and saw the final cut I was still surprised at how completely different it was from the last script I’d seen and even how different it was from what I’d seen filmed on set. Months had passed and the whole thing had changed. I wasn’t mad at anyone about it. I knew that I had no official say in anything regarding the film and that they were not required to keep me updated. And while it was strange to see, I knew I wasn’t objective, I knew I wasn’t a film-maker, and I decided that the best thing I could do was stand back and let my readers, and movie-watchers in general, make up their own minds about it when they saw it. I gave notes — I always gave notes — because that is what “having input” means.
I know that it can be confusing, because I have always tried to give the people in charge credit for including me at all, for even letting me on set — lots of times authors are banned from the sets of films made from their books (lest they go mad and destroy things, who knows.) And black and white — no control or all control — is easier to understand than “some meaningful input about some things, but not about others.”
I have seen a lot of negative commentary about a joke I made in an interview about being “interfere-y” — and usually I would dump it in the tick-box of “standard internet misogynistic noise” but I do think it’s worth addressing, briefly, that this is something of a no-win situation.
One narrative seems to be that I “bragged a lot” about my control over the film until the film came out and critics didn’t like it, and then I suddenly about faced and claimed I had no control at all. Except that never actually happened. I made one tweet, which all this is based on, where I said “I had very little control. I would tell @MortalMovie your thoughts” to a fan who did not like the movie, and who had said, “How could you let this happen to your books?”
Now, I probably should have been more specific, though it’s hard in something as small as a twitter space, in asking her about what she was upset about — maybe it was casting, in which case I guess I did have some influence, but I suspected it was storytelling, where I had much less and where the idea that I could “let” things happen or “prevent” anything from happening just isn’t true. It would have been one thing if that had been the first time I said it, but : Here is what I posted in July, long before the movie came out. It details the areas in which I did not have control over the film, and the way in which being a creator in a situation where you have no legal right over an adaptation is a dicey business:
“When you’re in a position, like I am and was, where you have no official title or job as regards the film adaptation of your book, you respond to the questions that are asked of you, and you try hard not to interfere unless asked to, because (as my mom always used to say) unasked-for advice is criticism. And the only thing that constantly criticizing a lot will get you is cut neatly out of the process, so that you may win your war to get Alec a sweater with holes in it, but you will never be there for the one about casting Magnus with an Asian actor because everyone will have stopped talking to you by then. Which they have a right to do.”
Here is where I posted one year ago to say ” I have always tried to be clear that I don’t control the final edit of the film (or any edit.)”
Here is where I posted about Raphael being cut from the movie, and how I was sad about it. This was a year ago. (“ (This isn’t a decision I made or have any control over — when you give over your movie rights you have to accept that decisions about how to adapt your books will be made without you.”)
Nothing I have said since the movie’s release has been any different from exactly what I have said for the past year and a half. (And indeed, it is kind of weird even to imagine why I would about-face, since it would only be completely harmful to me and my career — it wouldn’t be so much a move of selfishness as total stupidity. The City of Ashes movie is still on the cards: why would I want to alienate the people making it? Why would I want to annoy them considering they also own Magisterium and I’m writing a screenplay for them right now? That would be dumb and bad for me on a million levels. There’s just no advantage to it. None.)
I thought about it for a while — I’m used to bizarre internet narratives about female creators that have no roots in reality (I’ve always enjoyed the one about how Holly is in love with me. It saddens me that this is not true.) But while they don’t have roots in reality, they do have roots in sexism, and that makes them worth thinking about.
I thought about how much the word bragging was used to describe how I talked about the movie, though I’ve never thought of the movie as an achievement of mine, or me as being anything but randomly lucky to have a movie made of my books. I thought about the fact that this “bragging” was being applied to the publicity I was doing for the movie — publicity being a specific, professional requirement for creators, but one that, when the creators are female, is often tagged as “bragging” or “boasting” because the fundamental aspect of publicity — that you are working to get attention, which is what publicity is, is antithetical to the way women are supposed to behave (never, ever, ever as if they want attention. Only the worst kind of women want attention, and if they do somehow wind up getting attention, they should be humble, grateful and apologetic for having accidentally wound up being paid attention to. Which is a bitter Catch-22 when publicity and being in public are a requirement of your job (I actually am fairly shy and for a long time hated doing publicity and appearances; I used to throw up before them. And I still saw constant comments along the lines of “Look at that bitch, loving the attention!”)
I realized that somehow my joke about being “interferey” was being rewritten as a narrative of me bragging about Controlling All Aspects Of the Film, as if I were the Moriarty of film-making. And I thought: how weird, that there is a contingent of people who think it is actively wrong for a writer to give her opinion to moviemakers about the movie based on her books, when that opinion is solicited? (I was told my opinion was welcome, so I gave it — I gave it a lot, which is why I joked about being “interferey.”) I don’t know how more clearly to explain it, but being asked for one’s opinion does not mean that that opinion is going to be taken. I was not anyone’s boss. I could not make anyone make a change — no matter what, not under any circumstances — to the film unless it was a change they wanted to make. No matter how much I “interfered”, I interfered by giving my opinion, not by breaking into the editing studio at night and re-splicing together all the film so it ran in a different order.
His girlfriend: “All I can say to that, my dear, is that you’ve clearly never been a woman.”
*dusts off Tumblr*
(Clearly I am thinking it was not a good idea)
I went to Comicon on a jet. Tiny jets are both awesome and terrifying. They just lift straight up into the air like slingshots. Everyone ran to the windows to look out except Godfrey who was like, “Haven’t any of you ever been on a Gulfstream Jet before?” Hmph. Not all of us are international supermodels.
Oh, and we got our makeup done on the plane - which is mostly hairbrushing for the boys, but no one else seemed to share my deadly fear of getting a mascara wand to the eye.
When we walked into the lobby of the Hard Rock Hotel I yelled “Jamie, look! Your head is huge!” which might …not have been what I meant to say. Lily was signing autographs so we couldn’t get her for this picture.
Later I got to ride in an elevator with Spiderman — or whatever his real name is. Totally, you can see him behind me and Sukee (Godfrey’s manager! He’s wearing blue!
He’s talking to Robbie, who warned us that over the day, his hair would get progressively bigger. But it never did do anything dramatic.
In August, I went to the premiere in LA. Does it look terrifying? Because it is terrifying. Everyone points cameras and shouts your name and you assume you are going to be assassinated.
But I did get to hang out with fans…
And I dragged my long-suffering husband along …
And also superagent Barry Goldblatt who sold my first book back in 2005. I asked him to walk on the black carpet with me but he took one look at all the photographers and bolted around the side, abandoning me. SAVE ME, BARRY!
And of course adorable cast of adorableness was present. Robbie’s suit had its own ticket, I believe.
I went to some amazing events where I met tons of awesome Shadowhunters holding some very perverse signs.
And then to Berlin.
In Berlin, the airline lost all my luggage, including my premiere dress and shoes — though I still had my good-luck handbag that Holly gave me.
After much despair I wound up in a massive department store in Berlin, and scrounged up a beaded dress (that was actually a shirt, but I’m short) and Miu Miu shoes so tall that eventually I took them off and did the presentation barefoot. You’ve probably seen the press photos so here’s us lurking backstage looking nervous.
After which I went barefoot to dinner which was collegial and also a little sad because I had to say goodbye to Lily
You know how she always looks perfect in photos? She always looks perfect in real life. IT’S SCARY.
Oh, and Robbie - who told several extremely funny stories during dinner, all of which are rated unsuitable for this tumblr. Alas.
And Jamie (who I expected to see again in Hong Kong, but then a family member got suddenly, violently sick, and I couldn’t go. They are okay now, and thank you for the well-wishes - it really has been an up and down bunch of weeks.
Also I think Jamie is asleep in this picture but my husband says he is just blinking.)
Meanwhile I had time to watch the Series 3 teaser trailer for Sherlock and OH MY GOD WHY MUST WE WAIT FOR THINGS WE WANT TO WATCH AND READ.
Hmph I say to you, Benedict Cumberbatch.
Anyway, I am heading out tomorrow to rural France with the Usual Suspects where I will be spending the next month hopefully *finishing* City of Heavenly Fire, and recovering from what has probably been the craziest year of my whole life.
I did want to add — I have of course been receiving a ton of messages about the movie: from people who loved it, people who hated it, people who are mad at me for changes made in the adaptation from book to movie, people who want me to give them Jamie Campbell Bower’s phone number immediately or they will be mad at me… It’s a little overwhelming, but I will just say:
I’ve always said I didn’t have ultimate control over this movie. (I said it on my website, and here, seven months ago and a year ago : “When you give over your movie rights you have to accept that decisions about how to adapt your books will be made without you. ) I clarified my position and influence re: the movie here a month ago: : ’The producers and director and production designer were all nice enough to come to me to consult about various things. I gave my opinion. Sometimes they took it. Sometimes they didn’t take it. Sometimes they took part of it but not the rest. Some things I was never asked about and was as surprised as everyone else to see.”
Interestingly, even being on set doesn’t change that - about 60% of what I saw filmed, including a ton of location shooting in ‘Idris’ and flashbacks, didn’t make it in — I hope it’s on the DVD because I think you guys would like it. None of that is a criticism of the movie — but often if you have questions about why things were changed, or when or how, I won’t know the answer, because I don’t know either. I just hope you do know that whenever I was asked for input, I gave it with what I thought you guys would want in the forefront of my mind.
In the end, a film is an interpretation: it’s the director’s vision of a book. If you don’t like it, you’re not a bad fan. If you do like it you’re not a bad fan. If you have a ton of strong opinions well, you’re a fan. :) It’s the nature of the beast. The books will always be the books and nothing changes that.
Speaking of the books, I found out that this week City of Bones is #1 on the USA Today list. I remember years ago sitting in Holly’s basement on New Year’s Day with Libba Bray, making our Lists of Impossible Goals: things we wanted to accomplish we didn’t ever think would happen. I wrote “#1 on the USA Today list” — because USA Today ranks every book in the country and so basically it means City of Bones, this week, was the bestselling book in the US. And that’s pretty amazing.
I feel so grateful to have had the experience of this past year, and I know I am so lucky in my life, my career and to have you guys, most of all. And I can’t wait to start talking about City of Heavenly Fire. I just saw the cover — YES! Tell me if you want a sneak peek. ;)
Well now with the upcoming release of City of Bones (four days…. eeeeep!) we would like you to submit a photo of you with your ticket stub for City of Bones! Some of you may have pre-ordered tickets, so feel free to submit now! We will also be posting links on Wednesday to remind you where you can submit your photo!
You have to watch the whole thing, but it’s Jamie and Kevin and Lily defending not so much specifically the TMI fans as literally female fans in general, and media created for and by women. (Not that the Mortal Instruments is media created for women in any way, but it’s fascinating to see the popular perception that anything about a girl is only for girls, while anything about boys is for everyone, in action. And nice to see them shoot it down like a slow duck in hunting season.)
Kevin Zegers and Jamie Campbell Bower defending the fans. (x)
New Clace stills.