|Jessica Postigo discussing her work as screenwriter on The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. (Photo: Amber/TMI Institute)|
Jessica Postigo, screenwriter for The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, sat down with us in Los Angeles prior to the premiere of the brand new film to share her thoughts on the experience of seeing the Cassandra Clare adaptation come to life.
Katie, Mundie Moms: What were the biggest challenges in writing the Screenplay for 'Mortal Instruments'?
Jessica: The hardest part was getting everything into those two hours. Staying true to Cassandra, I always said I am her sieve. I wanted to be able to do it justice and honor that. There's so many characters in this series. There are some that aren't physically present. In a movie, it's hard to talk about. As readers, we know them inside and out and have read all of their back story. A choice we had to make was that we couldn't introduce all of the characters if we didn't need them. I got so attached to characters, it is hard to let go. We are making room for people in the second movie, of course, for people that have to be there. It's all about the present moment. It's kind of like the power of now. Focus right now. Minimum backstory that you have to tell because if it's really affecting what you're seeing right now, then bring it in.
Erin, Fangirlish: One of the biggest backlashes we've received from fans is Raphael. How do you make a choice to cut out somebody who's so important to the series and so important to the fans?
Jessica: We didn't. That was a last minute. He IS in there, but he's not in there. That guy you see in there, is supposed to be Raphael. He's just not called Raphael. I can tell you one thing, believe me, my last name is Postigo, I had a Latin character in there! For me, Raphael is very important, and he is in City of Ashes. You have my guarantee he is in City of Ashes. I can't guarantee anything, because I'm not paying for the movie. I know it's hard, and I recognize that, but it's a huge investment to make the movies. Ultimately Raphael's character who is in City of Bones was somebody that was important to have. It was what it had to be in that moment.
Kristen, TMI Movie News: Will that actor return to play Raphael in City of Ashes?
Jessica: That actor, I can't tell you. I know there's a Raphael, I wrote a Raphael in there. He is Latin and his description is exactly, like tousled curls and the whole sultry yuminess of him is in there. I have no idea. You're giving me more credit, or power, than I really have.
Erin, Fangirlish: Was there a lot of research, like the fans having their favorite scenes, etc? How hard was it to not only honor the books but the fandom?
Jessica: Oh for SURE! Fandom first. Fandom was always first. What I did first of all, when the book was sent to me by a producer and I read it. I said "Are you kidding me? This is so much fun, this would be a great movie." Mind you, it was before it was the phenomenon it is today. Once we had it set up at Constantin, my first job was to spend a lot of time going through the first three books and see where the main characters ultimately end up. To do the first movie adaptation you have to be sure to set that ending up. You always have to hope for the best and think that you're doing this because three movies are going to be made, that it will be a success. Making sure no loose ends, that everything could be continued.
Katie, Mundie Moms: I love how you adapted the characters. Was it a challenge to adapt these characters from the book to the movie?
Jessica: It was interesting. In the end, we found some characters had a lot of physical presence. We call it "everyone has a mouth to feed" in a scene. It's hard to have so many characters present in a scene and have them active, instead of just being wallflowers there. You can't always do a cheat with a "look" or a "glance". Simon's character, who doesn't love his loyalty and sense of humor, the love he has for Clary is just irresistible. I think his was the hardest to cast. Cassie was very knowledgeable, she really knew Rob's work from Misfits. He was really well cast. Not only physical but that aura you put in with getting the sense of humor. I would've put so many more lines from the book in there, but it was totally unrealistic for time.
Kristen, TMI Movie News: What did you take into consideration when deciding what lines came straight from the book?
Jessica: A lot of fan favorites. I combed and combed your websites for the fans favorites. You almost instinctively know the fan favorites, because just like they jump out to fans, they jump out to me. Without a doubt. Cassandra just captures the millennial voice, to an extreme. She really understands it. She just innately and instinctively has it down. How can you not take advantage of that? It's too good not to. It's heartfelt, real, poetic, great sense of humor, snappy, fast. You just want to do her justice, really.
Amber, The Mortal Institute: How did you go about writing the scene about Jace and Clary being brother and sister?
Jessica: There were many drafts. What ultimately made it on the screen stayed true to the first draft. It is heart wrenching and brutal. I never had an issue, but there was always a concern about those who hadn't read the books. "Oh it's gross, oh it's beautiful, oh it's Star Wars..." it's such a great twist on the obvious love triangle. I thought it was a genius twist. The problem we had was that it works in a novel, because you can end the book and move on to the next book. For a movie ending you need to have a satisfying ending. You can't say "she doesn't get the guy, she doesn't get the cup and her mom's still in a coma". You gotta give them something! It was really hard, because at the same time, you don't want to re-invent the wheel and screw over the fans. To the last minute we still went back and forth on how exactly to leave it. It was really a struggle to figure how to do it without cheating the core fan-base. We used the Hitchcock theory that it is okay to have the audience ahead of the characters. What we're aspiring to do is to have the audience say 'but you CAN kiss', you're not brother and sister! We're working on that challenge right now in City of Ashes. How to sustain that in a credible way.
Amber, The Mortal Institute: In the scene where Clary sees Simon's bite, was that something you had talked about?
Jessica: That was an on-set decision, for sure. It came from the glasses. That he didn't need the glasses anymore. It came from a sexy standpoint. Wouldn't Robbie look great without the glasses, how do we get rid of the glasses?