Belong or Long to Be: Jellicoe Film Revelations at SWF '15

What follows is a super quick, unscheduled recap of some On the Jellicoe Road film tidbits that Melina Marchetta revealed during her talks at Chatswood and Sutherland at the Sydney Writers' Festival Secondary School Days that took place today and yesterday:

1. For a long time Melina tried to start the script the way the book starts, with the Markham/Schroeder accident, but her producer was convinced it needs to start with something that's immediately, obviously relevant to Taylor's 'super want' in the present day. When the producer eventually read the book and read the line about her mother leaving her at the 7-Eleven on the Jellicoe Road, her producer was like, 'that's it, that's our beginning.'

2. So the script now starts with twelve-year-old Taylor and her mother driving down the Jellicoe Road (with Flame Trees by Cold Chisel playing on the radio; somebody hold me). Taylor's mother sends her into the 7-Eleven, where Taylor buys Fantales for herself and a packet of gum for her mother. When she comes back outside her mother is driving away.

3. Later on, we see an older Taylor again on the anniversary of that day. She drives back to the same 7-Eleven to buy the same sweets, and, back in her bedroom, throws them without looking into a suitcase under her bed which contains ten years' worth of maternal-abandonment-anniversary Fantales and packets of gum, to indicate that Taylor's 'super want' hasn't changed since that first scene.

4. Taylor's going to be in the flashback scenes, watching the 80s stuff happen? Melina didn't really expand beyond that.

Some other Marchetta film stuff that came up:

  • I'm pretty sure she said something about adapting Francesca for film too? My fellow volunteer (who also adores Melina) didn't catch anything about that in the session that Melina did today, but I'm quite sure she said something to that effect in passing. 
  • I asked her what her thoughts on adapting The Lumatere Chronicles for film and she agreed that that would be such a dream. Imagine it - filmed on location with a beautiful score?! Ugh. Anyway Melina said she'd love to see it but she doesn't have the skills to adapt it herself, but she dreams of the day that Peter Jackson calls her up to offer to make it!  

I let some of my inner fangirl show when I started talking about The Piper's Son, how I feel like my dad s basically Dom Mackee minus the alcoholism, and how I feel like I'm basically a real life Tara Finke (but probably less angry) so I reread that book about four times a year because it just resonates with me on a bone-deep level, in so many ways.

Somehow I didn't have a copy of Looking for Alibrandi until today, and Melina signed it with a very thoughtful, personalised message which referenced that conversation we'd had the preview day about relating so much to Tara's sense of perpetual homesickness:

Now, guys, talk to me about the Jellicoe movie, please! What do you want/expect? 

And can we talk about how amazing a Lumatere movie would be? I'm about to combust about how brilliant all Melina's books would be on stage! I could hypothetically design the movies of my favourite books forever. Go, go, go! 

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  1. Well, my want is to star in the movie, but you know, I don't see that happening at this time. Melina's ahead of schedule for me. But what do I expect? All the things and that is scary. Somber, beautiful, thoughtful and magic; if some of that gets to the screen, I will be happy.

    1. I'm sure it will! I'm excited that she's written the script herself because it sounds as though she has a good attitude of balancing being true to the heart of the story and making changes so it works better for the movie.
      I'm also super excited for the music (obviously because Flame Trees is such an important song!) and the location!
      My main issue with casting is just that I'll just be so disappointed if Chaz doesn't look half Italian, half Indigenous. But I reckon Melina will make sure he does!

  2. I have waaay too many hopes for the Jellicoe movie. It's my favourite book of all time, so Melina & co better do well!! But I'd love to be able to just enter into the Jellicoe world and everything that comes with it. A lumatere movie (or TV series, like GoT!) would be AMAZING and epic!! It needs to happen!!

    1. I wouldn't be able to contain myself if we ever got a Lumatere adaptation! I think a TV show would actually be to die for, because so much goes on with each character and an Australian-film-industry-length movie (what, like 120 min tops?) probably wouldn't be able to do Lumatere justice. Often I wish I was super duper rich so I could singlehandedly und all the amazing films I want to exist!

  3. I've tried to read Jellicoe Road, but sadly have never been able to really get into it. I've loved both SF and LFA, such a snapshot of Aussie multiculturalism too, especially in Melbourne with it's strong Italian community. She's definitely one of the authors that took young young to the world, and what a awesome representation. I would have been fangirling all over the place, possibly squealing and partaking in windmill arms meeting her. What an experience Soph and thanks for sharing <3

    1. Oh my goodness, if you've read SF, have you read The Piper's Son? I basically spend my whole life yelling about The Piper's Son. It's the same gang, four years later, kind of pre-'new adult'-label new adult, but also defies simple classification because half the narration is from the point of view of his forty-year-old aunt. I couldn't literally talk about The Piper's Son forever, forever, forever.