peggababy (peggababy) wrote in lion_lamb,

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Q&A: Melissa Rosenberg, 'Twilight' screenwriter

You may not know her by name, but you certainly know her work.

Melissa Rosenberghas adapted the popular "Twilight" series of novels for the silver screen. Besides romance of the werewolf and vampire kind, the 47-year-old screenwriter is very familiar with teenage crushes and angst, having written and produced coming-of-age TV shows like "Party of Five" and "The OC."

Rosenberg makes an appearance at Bothell's Fred Meyer for the "New Moon" DVD release tonight. She took time from her busy schedule to talk about the series.

Q: What was the adaptation process like?

A: I'm working with great source material actually. ... Probably, the biggest challenge was finding ways ... to externalize Bella's internal experience and make it visual.

Q: What is it that makes Bella relatable? I mean, many girls would kill to have her problem!

A: Here is this everyday girl ... clumsy, awkward, socially inept, all these things, yet this extraordinary boy sees what's extraordinary about her. ... All of us has that yearning, that longing, whatever is special about us, to be seen, loved and cherished. She is living out our dreams.

Q: You've written a lot about teenagers — how do you tap into that angst-ridden state?

A: I never write for teenagers. ... The minute you start trying to capture some sort of jargon or whatever is hip now, you're already outdated, by the time it hits the screen. ... It really is about finding character and emotional truth, rather than something current or edgy.

Q: How was each director in the series different?

A: For Catherine [Hardwicke], we had very little time to work on "Twilight," I was feeding her pages ... and immediately it was a very intense collaboration. With Chris [Weitzon "New Moon"], I'd already finished the second draft before he came on board, so I did a round or two and handed it off to him, and he made changes. ... David [Slade] is a very visual director ... so with "Eclipse" (out June 30) I was able to write out specifically some of the sequences per his direction.

Q: Author Stephenie Meyer wrote a manifesto detailing how a screenwriter should adapt the books for the screen. How did you react to reading that?

A: The manifesto basically says, you have to adapt the book. [Stephenie] had an earlier experience before Summit optioned her first book with another studio. ... They used it as a launchpad for a completely different story. She was so horrified by that, that when she optioned it to Summit, she also included that as part of her contract certain things, such as no canines of the vampires should be longer than normal human canines. ... When I heard this, my fear was she's trying to dictate to me what to do. Any writer would bristle at that, but when I saw the manifesto, I would do that anyway.

Q: How closely did you work with Meyer?

A: With each movie, we've gotten closer. ... On the first movie, I kept my process private. But then as I got to know her, I realized that was completely unnecessary, because she is incredibly collaborative, fluid and not precious about her work ... With "New Moon," she read all the drafts, but with "Eclipse," I asked her to read the outline, which was very unusual. It's very risky. It's very early. That's where I do a great deal of my work. ... That's when you're structuring the story and deciding what's in, what's out, what's invented, all that.

Q: How did you and Meyer see eye-to-eye?

A: It's a funny thing actually, because you can take someone like Stephenie who is very devout in her religion [Mormonism], and take someone like me who was born in Northern California in a hot tub to a family of shrinks. ... And yet we meet in the middle, we meet in story. We meet in character. So our politics just don't come up. It doesn't have to. I was worried about that, about writing something that I don't believe in. Not at all. It's about character.

Q: How do react to the criticism that the movies strayed from the book?

A: People have to understand. ... Adapting a book is not simply taking the book and putting it in screenplay format. You would have the longest dull movie in the world. A novel is a completely different animal. It's a painting versus a sculpture. ... My objective always is to take the audience on the same emotional journey as the book. That succeeded for some, and didn't succeed for others.

Q: Are they dividing the last book, "Breaking Dawn," into two movies?

A: I personally feel there's too much story to try to do it in one. The hope is to do it in two, but that's still under discussion.

Q: I've read that several directors have been approached for that adaptation, like Sofia Coppola ("Lost in Translation") and Gus Van Sant ("Milk")?

A: I think everyone is being considered. ... You want someone who can work with these actors very well obviously and someone who can handle special effects and someone who isn't afraid to dive into an established franchise. It's got to be intimidating to come into an already running show with such an avid fan base. ... You're like "Wow, what if they hate me?" We all have to deal with that.

Q: Finally, I have to ask — are you Team Jacob or Edward?

A: (laughs) One is the ideal romantic perfect love, and one is the flawed but passionate bad boy. They're both wonderful archetypes and depends on my mood!

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Tags: movie: articles, movie: new moon, stephenie meyer
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