'I was attuned to the lives of characters'
Do you think the big screen adaptation can cast a spell on audiences?
Seeing your favourite literary characters from the books on the big screen is an experience in itself. The audience tends to get mesmerised by seeing what they have read in their favourite books on screen. The only hurdle is how realistically the book can be turned into a movie without losing the essence.
How difficult was the adaptation process?
I sought Cassandra Clare’s advice on the best ways to fit the sprawling narrative into the limited length of a film. When you adapt a popular book, you have to make some difficult choices. Perhaps something doesn’t work for the logic of the movie, or it’s a stumbling block to moving the story forward, or simply for budgetary reasons. We did our best to preserve what’s really important, and thankfully, Clare was very supportive.
How differently have you been able to direct the movie?
I had fallen in love with the characters and the world and wanted to recreate them. I had a whole folder full of tear sheets and boards that I had put together and had envisioned the characters, the setting, the colour palette, even the magic, in such incredible detail. If I had questions about anything, I went directly to Clare.
What was the involvement of Cassandra?
Cassandra helped us in fitting the book into the limited length of a feature film. She is very well connected with the fans of the books and would always ask for their advice.
Was there any scene or character you were particularly excited to replicate?
I was completely attuned to the emotional lives of the characters. I was drawn to the excitement and the visual possibilities of the story, but my strongest connection was to the characters, especially Clary. In some ways it’s really a detective story about a young woman searching for something. On the way, she discovers that much of what she’s believed all her life is not true. Every day, the character has a ‘What?’ moment that turns her beliefs upside-down. But Clary is a very powerful young lady and she takes control. One of the things I love most about the character is that when someone tells her not to do something, you know she’s probably going do it!
How difficult were the fight sequences?
During the fight scenes, I insisted on having the actors perform as much as they could and they embraced the challenge, undertaking months of training for the film. They’re all pretty athletic anyway. I tried to make sure that they were able to do pretty much everything themselves, so we could avoid the old ‘cut to a double, and then cut to a close-up’ of the actor.