#LoveOzYA spotlight on: Young adult projects at the Queensland Writers Centre’s Adaptable program for 2021
The Queensland Writers Centre’s Adaptable program aims to support authors — both published and unpublished — the opportunity to have their work pitched to leading screen production companies and producers, and learn more about bringing book adaptations to the screen.
In 2021, a slate of young adult works penned by local authors were included in the Adaptable project — a development that program organisers were thrilled about.
“Our Adaptable program is open to all fiction genres and attracts a large number of fantastic young adult entries,” Queensland Writer Centre chief executive Lori-Jay Ellis told #LoveOzYA.
“Australian YA storytellers really understand their audience. They create strong leads and dynamic plots with great dialogue backed by a distinctive voice — perfect for adapting to the screen.”
The #LoveOzYA team spoke to some of the Australian authors whose YA works were selected for the most recent Adaptable shortlist to learn more about what they took away from the experience.
You can check out the full 2021 Adaptable shortlist here.
Khaiah Thomson — WELCOME TO BLACKWOOD
Being shortlisted for Adaptable was an exciting and eye-opening experience.
Even though they’re both about story-telling, the film industry is such a different beast to the book industry. I’ve learned so much from initially applying for Adaptable to then pitching Welcome to Blackwood to a bunch of producers.
In order to give a convincing pitch, I’ve had to get it through my head that my book is good enough, not only for people to read it and love it, but for it to be seen as having the potential to be adapted to film.
The experience and confidence I’ve taken from Adaptable has been invaluable to me and will support me on my journey as a writer and author.
My key bit of advice that I’ve taken from Adaptable is to just give it a go, even if it scares the pants off you. It’s a huge confidence boost. In the words of the wise Maz Farrelly, ‘get used to being embarrassed,’ and the world is your oyster.
Phew! Adaptable was such a wonderful, wild experience it kind of feels like it happened in a dream. Now that I’ve had a bit of time to come down from the adrenaline and nerves of the day, I would encourage everyone to have a go at applying. It is worth it just for the experience, let alone the wonderful connections and people you get the chance to meet.
I would say, don’t expect quick results, as we were told the average time for an adaptation from book to screen is seven years. But the program is one-of-a-kind, and I learnt more about how the industry works and how to navigate interactions with ‘industry people’ in that one day than I have in my life.
It was eye-opening, informative, fun, and such a thrill. I would also say, don’t try to force a connection, because if your precious book is going to be adapted for the screen, you have to let go and you want to know that the people taking it on have similar feelings, intentions, and vision to you. When you’re in a pitch meeting with someone who ‘gets it’, you will know.
This year we were given online workshops with producers to teach us the “art of pitching”.
Last year (I was a finalist with Destroying Avalon) the Gold Coast Film Festival was cancelled due to COVID. This year, we were lucky to dodge several border closures and lockdowns and I flew from Perth to Queensland to attend in person.
The Queensland Writers Centre put on a brilliant Market Day where we met with producers in person- a bit like literary speed dating! There was a lot of enthusiasm and encouragement. We attended some producer panels where they spoke about the thriving film industry in Australia.
Overall, we learnt that it’s a long process to get from the page to the screen but really worth the effort! What author doesn’t dream of seeing their work on the screen!
There are so many variables with filmmaking. Being able to work with people who share your vision is the ideal. I think most novelists dream of seeing their story on screen, but the stages of how that might become possible are a bit mysterious.
Being able to talk to producers who are working in the industry right now was a great demystifier. The Adaptable process made me really think about how my novel might work as a film/TV series.
In my case I’m interested in writing the screenplay myself — it was great to talk to film professionals about what I might have to change about my story — what could I amp up or let go of.
The enthusiasm my project was met with was very encouraging. So now it’s just about finding time, energy and resources!