Search the most comprehensive database of interviews and book signings from Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson and the rest of Team Jordan.
2012-04-30: I had the great pleasure of speaking with Harriet McDougal Rigney about her life. She's an amazing talent and person and it will take you less than an hour to agree.
2012-04-24: Some thoughts I had during JordanCon4 and the upcoming conclusion of "The Wheel of Time."
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My last question shouldn't be as hard to answer and that is: Who is in charge of the Mistborn movie you mentioned at the #tweettheauthor?
Thank you so much, I love your books!
It is a small production studio, so nobody you'd recognize. The producer is a fan of the Mistborn books who has some credentials in independent films, and who has impressed me with his treatment of the books and his determination to make the film. This individual is starting a production company to focus on the film. We're in the contract stages now, and once that is done, I can be more specific.
It's not like the Alcatraz movie, which was optioned directly by a studio. Because of that, the Mistborn movie is probably a lot less likely to happen—but, the hands it is in are quite good. Anything having to do with Hollywood is a long-shot in the first place, so (after meeting with the producer) I decided that I'd rather take the slightly more unlikely chance in exchange for the opportunity to work with someone I felt understood the books.
She (and I) would also like to know more details of the Mistborn movie. The last she heard, you'd rejected it being a TV series. So, yeah. Any more details?
Did a big post on this just above. I think that will answer the request for details.
Note that I rejected the tv series not because of the idea of doing a tv series itself, but because I wasn't confident in the production studio who was making the offer. More details will come once contracts are signed.
Ah, yes. The Mistborn movie and game. The movie rights were optioned to a production studio called Paloopa Pictures. We'll see what happens with that. I mean, they have a screenplay—if you don't know, getting a film made, there are a lot of ways that it happens; most of them seem kind of chaotic. One of the primary ways is a production company will option rights on something or option a screenplay. In my case, they optioned the rights, they write a screenplay, they do a big pitch, then they go to the studios. And the studios have to fund the thing. The production company would then become the producers on it, with the studios funding and make the film.
That's why what'll happen, often you'll see a film that'll [have] these five production studios at the start. Those are the people who did that sort of thing. So that's where we are there.
Sometimes you'll get lucky and a film will just get optioned by a studio directly. That doesn't happen as often. For instance, the Wheel of Time books got optioned to Red Eagle Entertainment, which is a production company. They did all of this, then went to Universal and got Universal to buy the rights and fund the movie... We have that. We also have some people with a video game that I can't announce yet, because I'm sure they want to announce it, but we had a nice offer on a video game that would be slated for around 2013. It will be cross-platform, so it would be on PC, Xbox, and PS3. I will probably be writing the story and the dialogue for it.
When I sold the rights, I was not of the level of fame I now am. That's one consideration. It was the first REAL (as in, willing to up-front serious money) offer I'd had. I also knew that Red Eagle had had success with the WoT, being small and then getting the rights picked up by a large studio.
The producer impressed me a lot. He flew out to meet with me, and had a great vision. My agent and I thought that, getting a deal with a smaller producer and retaining some creative control was worth the risk. The worst that can happen is that a buyout doesn't happen by the end of next year, and the rights come back.
I've heard rumors of a Mistborn movie. Is that true?
The Mistborn movie, is not even up to handshakes now. We do have a Vin chosen, but it’s not official yet, so I can’t say who it is.
I've heard rumors. Will you confirm or deny this?
Yeah, I can deny that one. (Continued Laughter) It's not Paris Hilton's dog either.
Yeah, basically it’s where it’s been at for a while, which is we’re at a good version of the screenplay, we’re trying now to get people to look at it in Hollywood.
The Mistborn RPG game is a go, for sure. We've got cover art, they're trying to release it by GenCon—which is a big gaming convention this year—and have it available for purchase by fall. It is certainly happening; it's 100% now. The film—the producers have finished the screenplay, which is quite good; I'm very pleased with it. And they are pitching the film in Hollywood right now. We don't know what will happen, what will come of it, but they are pitching it in Hollywood right now.
I was a little confused about how this book ties in with the other Mistborn books that you have planned. Wikipedia states that you're planning a "trilogy of trilogies" and that Alloy is a stand alone novel. I thought it was odd that it ended with something of a cliffhanger. Can you tell us then... Can we expect to see these characters again someday? Or is it the mystery/conspiracy aspect that will carry over to future books? Both maybe?
Thanks so much for the stories! Any nibbling from Hollywood for adaptations yet? It's not often that you find a good story that has both a compelling plot and interesting action to go with it. I think a Mistborn movie would be quite a sight to see. :)
I do plan to do more Wax and Wayne. The second trilogy is very involved, and I don't think will be a good balance to the Stormlight books. However, I don't want to leave Mistborn alone, as I have so many plans for the rest of the series. Therefore, I decided some smaller novels like this one would be appropriate while the majority of my attention is on the Stormlight Archive.
The Mistborn film is trudging along, bit by bit. The latest screenplay should come to me in the next month or so. We have a shot, but it's still a slim one. More than nibbles (I've sold rights to some producers) but no studio involvement or major talent attached quite yet.
Well, I'd sure pay to see it in theaters! ;)
To be more serious, I think this series—particularly the first book—is quite cinematic. I'd love to sell movie rights on it, assuming I can find the right people to work with. So if you have any contacts, let me know.
Before we wrap up, Brandon have you got any news about movies or a Mistborn game?
Yes, the Mistborn video game is very much a go, the guys at little orbit have just been awesome, we are working together to make an excellent game I hope. I'm working on the story, I've turned in to them an overarching story for the whole, for the game and they are taking that and building the game and level design around that and then I will come back after they've done that and I will write the dialog for the characters that moves the story along, so the videogame is a completely go, cross-platform ps3, Xbox 360 and steam for 2013.
The movie we are pitching to studios this month, so hopefully we can get something rolling on that, I have no news other than what I posted on my blog which is we've now got a good screenplay, it's quite good and we're now trying to pitch to studios and trying to convince somebody to pick this thing up and run with it. We're really hoping that, you know fantasy has a really good reputation right now because of the excellent Game of Thrones adaptation and so we're hoping that people will take a look at some good fantasy properties and that we can get a film made.
About the Mistborn movie:
Brandon conveyed that six drafts of the movie script have been done and that the latest draft, which he really likes, focuses more on the relationship between Vin and her brother Reen as a counterpart to Vin's relationship with Kelsier. Brandon and the independent producers are still shopping the script around to movie studios, however.
So, since we usually only interview filmmakers, is there any big-screen news to share?
I wish I had more film news. The Mistborn trilogy's been optioned, and I really like the producers and they have a screenplay, but that's the big step, you know, going from producers with a screenplay to getting a studio. Wheel Of Time has also been bought, not optioned, by Universal Pictures, so they're in the screenwriting stage right now.
Wheel of Time for me feels like an example of something that absolutely shouldn't be made into a film, it's so sprawling.
I think it's do-able, but boy it's going to be tough! I do envy George RR Martin with HBO. I think that's a perfect medium for the story that he told.
The response to that has been fantastic; do you see that helping to make fantasy a bit more mainstream? In the same way that the Lord of the Rings films or even Harry Potter books were a sort of gateway drug to the genre, do you think A Game Of Thrones will have the same effect?
As an outsider to the film industry, I find it very interesting that they seem to focus on what's hot right now rather than what's well done. The thing about A Game Of Thrones is that it's an exceptional story, done really well, which is what happened with the Lord Of The Rings films as well. Those came out, and everyone said, "Oh, fantasy is hot". And fantasy, well, it's been opened up, but it's more that really great stories told really well are hot and always will be. It was really disappointing to me to see them snatch up a bunch of fantasy rights and make films out of them that didn't really work, because fantasy was hot.
The Golden Compass film was heartbreaking, because my perspective on that is that they actually got fantastic casting, the visuals were beautiful and they tried really hard to stay close to the story. I think what happened there was that they didn't adapt it enough, they were too faithful and filmed it almost scene-by-scene. They were too attached to the source material. I talked to the Mistborn producers and we all agree that it needs to be more heavily adapted. It's a different medium. If you can keep the soul of the story but change the story that's what you want to do. If I can armchair it, the Harry Potter films where they were forced to adapt more strongly are the best. The third one is beautiful.
What about the Mistborn video game?
We put it off until 2014, because of the new console generation. We had planned for it to come out right when the buzz was saying the new consoles were going to launch. And that felt like a bad idea to us. The Mistborn film is also in the works, but it is very early and it is not nearly as far along as the Wheel of Time film is. So if anyone's father is J. J. Abrams, have him call me.
Yes, I did sell Mistborn movie rights.
How is that coming along?
I have had no major updates, I'm afraid. You know, I really like the script. They're pitching it in Hollywood. They're good guys, the producers are. The script is really awesome and is pretty faithful. It's adapted in the ways that adaptations need to happen. Like it's really cool, like the beginning they did this thing where they said, "You know, we really need to focus the movie on Vin, so the opening needs to be on Vin instead of Kelsier." Which is a really good move for a movie like that that's got such a shorter length of time. So, you know, they start with Vin and Reen, actually. And you know, Vin being part of a heist that goes wrong, with her brother, and things like this. And you know, there's changes like that that thematically, you know, are the same concept as the book but then work really much better in the only two hour block that you have. Then Kelsier is a mysterious figure who invites her in and recruits her into the team, which works much better in that format. So there's changes like that.
There's this really cool prologue where they start the prologue with the march up the mountain toward the Well of Ascension, a thousand years ago and an interaction there that changes into a stained glass window and then you see stained glass windows of the interim periods until you hit the Final Empire. So there's some really awesome stuff.
So, we'll see if this actually ends up working or not. Again, if your father is the owner of Warner Brothers, go and put in a good word for me. We're kind of long shots because all we are is an author and several producers who have no major credits to their name. And I sold it to them specifically because- you know, I sold Alcatraz to Dreamworks for a lot of money and then I just had to like say goodbye to the project and I like what they did with it but it was basically they took the project. And I, for Mistborn, wanted to have more control which also means my chances of actually getting it made go down quite dramatically. Ask Orson Scott Card how long it took to get made Ender's Game made and you will see the same sort of thing, but then he's getting it made his way, eventually. So that's what I'd like to do with Mistborn if I have that option.
Have you ever thought about a television/film/video game adaptation of the Mistborn series? I always thought that a television series would be great or a video game in which you could actually push/pull off metal within an open world. What are your feelings in general on adapting your/other's books for a different medium?
We're working on both a film and a video game for Mistborn. I think Mistborn would be better as a film, as opposed to a TV show, personally.
I've approached these things with optimism, but have tried to retain what rights and control I can to keep the adaptation from becoming a disaster.
People will be making your books into movies soon, right?
I’m hoping, we’re trying.
Which one first?
Mistborn, we’re working very hard to try and get it made. I can’t promise but we’re trying.
Who do you want to be like Vin and Elend?
I don’t really cast people in my head. And so I would rather let the director decide that and the casting director and things. It’s not one of my things, is to cast people.
For a while, I really- I was kind of hopeful for Ellen Page, but I don’t think that’s viable now, I think that she’s too old now.
Do you think "movie potential" for your book is an important factor in the YA market?
I know this applies across the board, but many YA books are being given the book-to-movie treatment nowadays. As YA is an emerging market, it feels like many stories are lined up for their movie adaptation before they even hit the shelves.
Do you think that "movie potential" is more important for YA books? Do you think the YA market is being used as a vessel to more easily find big-bucks action movies?
I don't think that "movie potential" is more important for YA books, because movie deals are SO nebulous, and everyone in the business is very aware of that. Movie deals are often rather small, and remember, a movie deal =/= a movie, and movie deals are different from book deals in a few key ways: typically, with a book deal, you get an advance and then royalties when your advance earns out. With a movie deal, you get paid at each stage. They buy the rights; you get a small amount of money (and sometimes we're talking VERY small—like, maybe you could buy a used car small). They decide to buy a script, you get some money. They take the script into development, you get some money. They produce it, you get some money. So, movie deals CAN be lucrative—if they actually make the movie. But if they JUST buy the rights...not so much.
Now compare the number of books that have movie deals versus the number of books that are actually made into movies. Sure—there have been a lot of movies from YA books, but there are a LOT more without.
If I had the choice between just selling movie rights and selling to a larger foreign country, such as Germany or England or Brazil, I'd rather sell foreign. For most authors, foreign deals are far, far more lucrative than selling movie rights. (Exception: some high profile deals, movie rights sales that turn into movies.)
TL: DR: movie rights aren't important enough, nor are they guaranteed, to make writing a book for a movie worth it.
There ARE a lot of YA books-to-movies right now—I think this is more a reflection of the movie market, though, than the book market.
I think you are correct—that thinking of the movie potential isn't worth the effort—but for a different reason.
My experience is that the author can't do much to make film deals happen. Of the deals I've done for my books, in only one case was I able to go out and shop a property and sell it. The other four times, everyone ignored our attempts to sell the books for film—until someone came to us. My impression of Hollywood has been that they want to find it on their own, not have you go to them pitching it.
Every one of my five deals has been an option agreement. For those who aren't aware, an option is kind of like a lease on a property. You do a big deal, but the producer/studio doesn't have to pay out the entire amount at first—instead they make an option payment, which is often somewhere around 5-10% of the buyout price. That lets them reserve the rights for a period (usually 12-18 months) where you can't sell it to anyone else. They usually have two chances to renew the option, and often the option money paid is deductible from the final buyout price if they decide to exercise their option to purchase.
The vast majority of film deals I hear about from friends are deals like this, with very few films actually being made. But that doesn't mean they can't be lucrative. If the buyout is 10k and you're getting 1k every 18mo...sure, that's not much. If the buyout is 500k, and you're getting 50k every 18mo though, it can make a nice supplemental income.
However, bethrevis is right—translation deals are far more plentiful, and far more reliable. Beyond that, I'd suggest that developing a story for its film potential can draw your attention away from writing the book the way it needs to be written.
Hi Brandon! I'm curious if you have an update on Mistborn: Birthright or any potential happenings with the Mistborn film rights?
I'm afraid there are no major updates to either right now. :(