Frequently Asked Questions
About the Movie
In 2014, Constantin Films, which owns the rights to the Shadowhunter books, announced that they would not be doing a film of City of Ashes, but would instead be developing a television show. They attached show runner Ed Decter (Helix) and the show was picked up by ABC Family, which will start airing the episodes in January.
They're in the process of casting right now. I don't know if any actors from the film will return, but it seems unlikely (as in, in the whole history of movies adapted into television, it's only ever happened once, with one actor*.)
In the meantime, please understand that I have nothing to do with the decision to make a television show instead of more movies. I have nothing to do with any casting or recasting decisions. I have less control over this than I have over the orbit of Jupiter. I understand that there are tons of fans who feel strongly about keeping or changing the cast, or making more movies, and I respect those feelings, but I have no more power than you to effect any change.
Writers don't make movies. Movie studios make movies. And television studios make television. You can reach ABC Family at @shadowhuntersTV, or at their Facebook:
*Radar, from MASH!
The film rights to The Mortal Instruments were optioned by Unique Features back in 2009. They then teamed with Constantin Films to produce and film the actual movie, with Sony Screen Gems distributing and Harald Zwart directing. The film was based on the first book of the Mortal Instruments and called The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones.
The movie started filming August 20, 2012, in Toronto and was released August 21, 2013. Up to date info can be found at https://www.facebook.com/TheMortalInstruments
I did not. Which is not to say no one from the film team ever talked to me. They came to me often asking questions and/or asking for my advice. Sometimes they took my advice or listened to my answers. Sometimes they did not.
People are often shocked to hear that authors have little say over the films made of their books. They point to the very rare exceptions — Suzanne Collins, JK Rowling, EL James — where the author did have control. But that is the exception and not the rule, as those authors were able to get themselves made part of the production team that made the films based on their books. If you are not part of the production team, you have no official voice.
Think of a book as like a house you own. Maybe you built it. Maybe you spent years decorating it so it was just right for you. And you have great memories associated with every piece of it. But you have to move, so you sell your house and you move out.
The movie people are in the position of the people who bought your house. They can do whatever they want with it, because it is now their house (which is not to say they own the books, but they own the movie version of the books). They do not need to call you if they want to paint the dining room tomato red, even if you would never have painted the dining room tomato red, even if you hate tomato red. They are not legally obligated to consult you about their house because they own it. And that is the case for 99% of movie adaptations.
The producers and director and production designer were all nice enough to come to me to consult about various things. I gave my opinion. Sometimes they took it. Sometimes they didn’t take it. Sometimes they took part of it but not the rest. Some things I was never asked about and was as surprised as everyone else to see it (Valentine’s hair. :) Some things I was consulted on — sometimes very strange specific things (the exact shape of witchlight, specific Latin phrases) — and many things I was not. So I would say that I had input, but I did not have control.
As the lovely Ally Carter, author of the Gallagher Girls series, says on her website: “I can’t get you in the Gallagher Girls movies. Cassie Clare can’t get you in the Mortal Instruments movies. Rick Riordan can’t get you in the Percy Jackson movies. And on and on. We just can’t.”
She is right.
I have the utmost respect for the craft of acting, but please, please believe me when I say that if there ever is going to be a movie of the Mortal Instruments, I am the absolutely last person on the planet who would have any say whatsoever in casting it. Really. The people who are involved with casting (producers, casting directors) don’t have to ask me who to cast and they don’t have to care whether I like the casting or not. They could make the entire movie a one-man showcase for the robot from Wall-E and there is absolutely nothing I could do about it. I could have the greatest idea ever for the casting and they wouldn’t do anything about that, either. The writer of the source material a movie is based on is far below the producer’s gardener’s poodle in getting any input about casting. So please don’t send me headshots and resumes — you’d be better of sending them to a talent agent, a casting director, or really, mailing them to the dolphins at Sea World. They have about as much input into casting a TMI movie as I do.
And lastly, I also can’t email you to notify you in the future if it turns out that there are going to be auditions or open casting calls. I’m just not organized enough to remember to email so many people, and besides, I am unlikely to have any special knowledge of casting calls, or to know about it before, say, the mainstream media does.
Up to date casting information is always available here:
Lily Collins has been cast as Clary.
Jamie Campbell-Bower has been cast as Jace.
Robert Sheehan has been cast as Simon.
Kevin Zegers has been cast as Alec.
Jemima West has been cast as Isabelle.
Godfrey Gao has been cast as Magnus
Lena Headey has been cast as Jocelyn.
Aidan Turner has been cast as Luke
Jared Harris has been cast as Hodge.
Yes! You can join the Mortal Instruments movie Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/TheMortalInstruments
If you want fan-supplied info, you can always check the site http://www.tmisource.com/ which does a good job of keeping up to date on TMI movie developments.
First, perhaps reading this helpful post from Ashley over at Mundie Source will calm you:
Okay, second: No, I don’t believe that movies “ruin books”. As I said above, the MI books are optioned by the guys at least party responsible for movies I consider to be some of the best book-to-film adaptations of all time (the Lord of the Rings films.) I do understand what it’s like to see a film based on a book you loved and feel like the book wasn’t treated right, but there are also wonderful book-to-film adaptations out there: Let the Right One In, The Shawshank Redemption, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Last Picture Show, Psycho, Lord of the Rings. The Princess Bride. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Watership Down. The Iron Giant. Hellboy. The Shining. Carrie. Blade Runner. A Clockwork Orange. The Maltese Falcon. LA Confidential. The Hours. Atonement. Brokeback Mountain. Trainspotting. The Sweet Hereafter. Brideshead Revisited. Goodfellas. The Silence of the Lambs. A Room with a View. Movies are not a lesser art form than books; they are a different art form than books. If you don’t risk having a bad movie made out of your book, you’ll never get a good movie made out of your book, either.
*** (It is also worth noting that this argument is academic anyway. I no longer own the rights to make films or TV shows out of my books, or have the authority to decide whether it happens. Screem Gems/Sony does. That’s what it means to sell your film/tv rights. The decision is theirs to make. It is not mine. Asking me to reconsider making a movie is like asking me to redecorate a house I sold to someone else.)****
The Infernal Devices has been optioned as a film project by the same people who optioned The Mortal Instruments, and is currently in the early stages of development. I'm looking forward to seeing a screenplay.
In 2014, Constantin Films, which owns the rights to Shadowhunter books, announced that they would not be doing a film of City of Ashes, but would instead be developing a television show. They attached show runner Ed Decter (Helix) and are moving ahead with creating a pilot, hoping to get the show in production in 2015.
I cannot answer any questions about casting, about whether they will recast the actors, about what channels it will show on, or really anything because it is simply too early to know. I also don't know when I will know — but I will update the site when I do.
I used to have pages up on my website with "fantasy casting" for the books — mostly because I thought they never would be movies.* Having been through the actual casting process, I realize casting is a lot more complicated than I ever thought, and that just because someone looks right for a part doesn't mean they'll be right for it, and just because they don't look exactly like the character description down to their inches in height doesn't mean they're wrong for it. Therefore I took down the fantasy casting pages and while fans are totally encouraged to do whatever fantasy casting they want, I don't take part. I think it encourages people to fixate on a particular actor for a part, and since the fancast actor almost never actually gets cast, it winds up just encouraging people to be grouchy about casting when it actually happens.
*Funnily, the person dreamcast for Sebastian, Kevin Zegers, wound up being Alec.
I get that people feel strongly about films. But since I didn't control the way the film was made, or the script, if you email me about the movie I'm unlikely to have any response but "Okay, I didn't have control over the movie, so I have nothing to say about that." Usually my assistant will just direct you back here.
I cannot pass along your suggestions or comments to the film team. There are just too many people with suggestions and comments for that to be possible. I really encourage you, if you feel you have opinions you have to share, to get in touch with someone involved in the film. You can always try contacting Harald Zwart, the director, on his tumblr, haraldzwart, if you have questions or you feel like you need to make a comment. Or you can tweet at @mortalmovie . Sometimes the film team can be responsive.
I also have no information about the City of Ashes movie. If there ever is news about it, expect it to come from the media, which reports on films and their production, not from me.
About the Movie