I’ve just heard some terrific news about the release of Paint It Black–written and directed by the indefatigable and multitalented Amber Tamblyn, We can’t announce the details for a few weeks , but yes, it’s going to debut, and sooner rather than later. Stay on the line.
Recently heard Amber speak about her experiences adapting the book on a panel at the big Associated Writing Programs Convention held this year in Los Angeles. She was great on the panel–with Graham Moore (The imitation Game), Robert Jacobs (Chocolat, Shipping News), Nick Kazan (Reversal of Fortune, for one). She holds her own and then some. While Paint it Black is her first adaptation, she alone on the panel had gone on to direct the adapted screenplay. Her perspective brought unique dimension–she’s so clear and warm and insightful.
It was downright surreal to sit in the audience listening to her talk about her experiences adapting my book! Like being in a Charlie Kaufman movie. This is not my beautiful life…
I know what it was like for me to see the film adapted–an entire cycle of emotion–but a whole other trip to hear about Amber’s experience. She talked about her approach to the adaptation, “It was about preserving the emotion I felt when I first read it. I knew I couldn’t do everything, I would have to pick what I wanted to emphasize, and for me, it was the relationship between the two women. It was mesmerizing. And how to give you that same feeling.”
And she talked about the second ‘adaptation’ of the book as it moved from screenplay to film, something I hadn’t even thought about. “Often emotionally you can accomplish something in a gesture that needed a whole scene in the script,” she said. “And then editing is like a third adaptation.” She talked about shooting a scene between Josie and the singer Lola Lola. “It was fantastic. But in the editing room, it just didn’t fit anymore. I tried a million ways to get it in. The editor said, ‘you know, you’re just not going to be able to save it.’ I was sure I could, but eventually, he was right. It just didn’t work anywhere.”
I know exactly what that’s like. I remember writing Ingrid’s backstory in White Oleander–about six pages. I loved that piece, but wherever I put it in, it stopped the book cold. In film that goes 100x, because it moves so fast, there’s no room for anything that stops it–a film like this is a freight train, you have to go with it.