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Australian author Melina Marchetta speaks to Hypable about progress on the film adaptations of her Printz award-winning novel On the Jellicoe Road, and her second novel, Saving Francesca.

‘On the Jellicoe Road’ movie:

On the Jellicoe Road is well on the way, with Marchetta telling Hypable, “I’d be surprised if we don’t make a film this year.” As for casting, Marchetta says they believe it will be “an international film, and you can’t make an international film if you don’t have international names.”

It’s just the two leads, as in Jonah and Taylor, they will have to be international leads. My rule is that I’m totally fine about that, except they have to be the right person for the role, rather than just an international name.

On the Jellicoe Road will be directed by Kate Woods (director, Looking for Alibrandi), with Sue Taylor (producer, The Tree) and Goalpost Pictures (producer, The Sapphires) on board. The production team have been pushing for a 120 minute run time, rather that the 90 minutes that is more common for Australian films.

‘Saving Francesca’ movie:

Saving Francesca is in preliminary stages, and Marchetta is currently in the process of writing the film treatment. It will be more typically Australian than Jellicoe, with Marchetta saying, “I always believed that it was going to be an Australian film,” despite having “a lot of requests from the U.S. for the rights.”

Why keep it as an Australian production? In America, Marchetta says, the school that is the focus of Francesca quickly becomes, “the type of school that you see in Gossip Girl […] It’s stuff like that that instantly gets changed in the transition.” The film will be produced by Jo Werner, who Marchetta has previously worked with on Australian TV show Dance Academy.

‘It’s not that you get a second chance in a film script, but you get to do things with the canvas in front of you, and go in different directions. And that’s the fun part.’

It is always rewarding to see an author who takes the time to transport their novels to the screen, because most don’t bother. Previously, Marchetta wrote the screenplay for the adaptation of Looking for Alibrandi, her first novel. The film was critically acclaimed within Australia, winning the Australian Film Institute awards for Best Film, Best Screenplay Adapted from Another Source, Best Achievement in Editing, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.

Melina Marchetta’s latest novel, Quintana of Charyn, will be released in the United States on 23 April, 2013. It is the final novel in her fantasy YA trilogy, The Lumatere Chronicles.

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