Mary Harron is in London to present a retrospective of her work at the Birds Eye View Festival, which celebrates the work of women filmmakers. All three of her prior feature films are screening: I Shot Andy Warhol, American Psycho, and The Notorious Betty Page; and Harron will this afternoon be giving a masterclass and tomorrow be holding court for a Q&A.
In support of this event, Harron has been interviewed for the Guardian. They touch briefly on her long-ago relationship with Tony Blair, the ever-shifting audience reception of her prior work, and also her upcoming projects – the bit that’s probably most interesting to us today, I suppose. This is where Harron reveals she’s currently casting her adaptation of The Moth Diaries. If you don’t know the original novel by Rachel Klein, it’s a vampire story set in a boarding school for girls and definitely has something of the Carmilla about it. I picked up the book a few years ago when I found out Karen Walton was working on a screenplay adaptation. It’s a great story and, chances are, is going to make an exceptional film.
Harron really is a wonderful choice to adapt Klein’s book. My preconceptions of how the story would work cinematically have very probably been tinged around the edges by Lucky McKee’s The Woods and Lucille Hadzihalilovic’s Innocence, but I’ve no doubt that Harron’s ideas will be her own, and that they will be fresh, exciting and smart.
There’s no confirmation of who has written the Moth Diaries screenplay, though it seems just a little doubtful that Karen Walton has stayed on board. Walton’s screenplay for Ginger Snaps was really quite brilliant, I felt, and I hope that Diaries or not, we see something from her again soon. It seems implied that Harron is at least co-writing the screenplay herself, however when she says:
If I’m going to write a script it has to be something that I’m going to stay interested in over a long period. Writing a film is time-consuming, and I have to be invested in it.
And, of course, she worked on the screenplays of each of her previous movies.
Harron’s other project in development is a punk drama set in 1970s New York, though that has been stalled by rights issues. It’s definitely nice to have something to look forward to after The Moth Diaries, however, especially when that something is a possible shelf mate for my beloved copy of Smithereens.
I think the upcoming Vampire Diaries TV show might cause some confusion with the potential Moth Diaries audience, but that’s still no reason to go changing titles.