As we should all know by now Cassandra Clare sold the rights for her books to be turned into films or TV shows a long time ago and this means that she doesn’t have any input into what happens in the films or TV show.
Well a lot of people still don’t understand this so Cassie went to Tumblr to explain some more and I think it’s really important for fans to understand. This question was:
Why aren’t you involved with the script or anything like that for the TV series? As the author shouldn’t you be involved to make sure it doesn’t stray from your original ideas like the movie did?
Cassie’s reply is perfect:
As Rick Riordan said, wouldn’t it be nice if you could buy only lottery tickets that would win?
When an author sells the film/TV rights to their work, that almost always means giving up creative control. There are exceptions, and people make a big deal out of them (JK Rowling getting input into the films of her books, EL James having control over casting) but they are extremely rare and happen under specialized circumstances — circumstances I have never been in: not when I sold my rights, and not after.
I sold my rights to a small production company that then sold them to someone else. The original contract I signed was a Warner Brothers contract. I sold them for a small amount of money, at a time I needed that money to live on, and got the same boilerplate contract that 99% of all writers I have ever known who sold movie/TV rights signed. My agent was very happy about the deal because selling rights at all is pretty exciting for writers, and it was a completely normal, standard deal.
I no longer own the rights to make films or TV shows out of my books. All of the decisions are made by the production company and their team. Asking me to make sure specific things happen is like asking me to redecorate a house I sold to someone else.
Why do people sell their film and TV rights, if it means not having creative control of the project? Most authors don’t have the resources to adapt their work for the screen. Not selling film/TV rights means that a movie or TV show based on your work will not happen ever. That’s what we need production companies for!
But why not insist that you will not give up creative control? For the simple reason that then no production company or studio will buy the rights to your work. Movies and TV shows cost millions of dollars to make. Almost no one is going to risk millions of dollars on a project that could be upended, changed or cancelled because of one person’s choices, especially someone who does not even work in the movie industry.
So “As the author shouldn’t you be involved to make sure it doesn’t stray from your original ideas like the movie did?“ is kind of a weird question since films don’t stray from the author’s ideas because the author doesn’t care or is too lazy or distracted to notice that a movie or show is happening. Authors have the amount of control and/or input they are granted by the people who are making the movie/show. No more and no less.
Certainly as things change in the world, and authors have more contact with their fans on social media, studios have become more open to including authors in the process of adaptations. For instance, I have been shown auditions for all the characters. They have absolutely no legal requirement to show me anything, ever. They are doing it, presumably, because they want my input and understand that the idea that I had input matters to fans.
As for the scripts, they are still at a stage where I have not seen them. This does not mean I will never see them. I don’t know. I certainly do not have control at the micro-level of insisting that actors dye their hair or read my books. I’ve never heard of literally any author having that.
I do understand what it’s like to see a film or show based on a book you loved and feel like the book wasn’t treated right, but there are also wonderful book-to-film/TV adaptations out there. It comes down to this: If you don’t risk having a bad movie or TV show made out of your book, you’ll never get a good movie or TV show made out of your book, either. It’s a risk that some of us decide to take, because we believe in the work we do and the stories we create, and we want to see those stories take an exciting new form.
As Ally Carter says in her exceptional post about How Movies Happen:
Basically, the odds of getting a movie made are long. The odds of getting a GOOD movie made are miniscule.
But we keep trying…
We keep trying all the time.
Hopefully that has cleared that up and people can stop questioning her why she doesn’t have any input on the TV show or why she didn’t carry on with the films.