Jellico Road: From Novel to Film Adaptation - Melina Marchetta

Roving Reporter: Pamela Rushby

In conversation with

Melina Marchetta and Laura Harris (Penguin)

Laura Harris and Melina Marchetta

Perched up high on barstools (and thus beautifully visible), Laura Harris drew fascinating information about novel to film adaptation from world-renowned novelist Melina Marchetta - and we discovered The Jellicoe Road can indeed be a rocky one.

Melina had already adapted her novel "Looking for Allibrandi" for film in 2000. She's currently working on the script for "On the Jellicoe Road".

Scriptwriting is a different ballgame from writing a novel. You're going from solitary writing to working with a committee. The collaborative element can be enjoyable. Working with a producer and director, you have the luxury of talking about your project all day, without anyone's eyes glazing over!

So much has to go. First, the character's voice disappears. Then, you have to cut 300 pages of print to 90 minutes of screen time.

With a script, you're constantly being told what's wrong with it, not what's right with it.

It was very helpful that Melina thinks "in pictures" - she'd seen the story unfold as a film in her head. But she'd also taken short courses in scriptwriting. She believes this made her a better prose writer. But, most of her "education" in scriptwriting came from interaction with the director.

Scriptwriting is a huge collaborative process, and many things change along the way After 4 years' work, many things changed because someone pointed out the protagonist wasn't "angry" enough.

Funding is always a problem. The film has a large budget (for Australia). Pre-production may start at the end of this year for next year - depending on available funding. #SCBWIAusNZ14