YES, it’s a movie! The world premiere of Paint It Black the Movie has been announced, and at last, I’m allowed to talk about it! It will debut at the Los Angeles Film Festival, held June 1-9, our screening on June 3, with individual tickets going on sale May 10. What a long strange trip it’s been. Amber (Tamblyn, the director) and her writing partner Ed Dougherty reminded me that they’d started writing their screenplay in 2009. And now it’s set to see the light of day–or at least the projector–seven years later.
What a tumble of changes it–and we–have been through since I heard that Amber Tamblyn wanted to option my novel. The actress? Yes, and she was poet too, something I didn’t know about her. I just remembered Joan of Arcadia.
That first night we sat down at a tiki bar in L.A., we’d been brought together by a mutual friend, the poet Derrick Brown. Over Scorpions, talked about what a Paint It Black movie would look like. Although she’d never written a screenplay, I was impressed by her passion–I’m still impressed by it. The book had been optioned before, a terrible experience about which the less said the better.
At the time, she was planning to star in it, and bringing someone else on to direct. But as time and the winnowing and changes of casting and personnel went on, the learning-as-you-go, discovery and the desire to protect the vision she’d created, she did something she had never imagined doing. She decided to direct the movie instead of starring in it. She cast the amazing Alia Shawkat to play Josie Tyrell, and prepared for her directorial debut.
I was able to go to the shoot whenever, as it was often right around the corner, a very different experience than I’d had with White Oleander, a big deal Hollywood movie. On Paint it Black, they sent me the daily schedule, the where and the when, the pages they would be shooting, and I just went over when I wanted to take a break from writing– slipped in among the lights and sound guys and gaffers, got a set of headphones and quietly stood by the monitor and out of the way as I watched Amber and the actors and cinematographer make the magic happen.
She really rode that horse all the way to the end. I saw her skill with the actors, her leadership ability with the crew. I heard about the agonies of casting, and the horrors of having to cut beautiful beautiful scenes in the editing room. I got to see it with her and Ed in her parents’ homey apartment in Ocean Park. Now the premiere. As the novelist, I have the best job of all– all of the fun and none of the headaches. Can’t wait to see it appear in the world.
PAINT IT BLACK, Directed by Amber Tamblyn, Starring Alia Shaukat, Janet McTeer, Alfred Molina, Emily Rios, Rhys Wakefield and Nancy Kwan, Screening: June 3, 7:30 p.m. Bing Auditorium. Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. May 10th at http://www.filmindependent.org/la-film-festival