Monday, June 29, 2020

Diana Clarke's "Thin Girls"

Diana Clarke is a writer and teacher from New Zealand. She received her MFA in fiction from Purdue University and is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Utah.

Here she dreamcasts an adaptation of her debut novel, Thin Girls:
It’s hard for me to think of this book as a movie. My main fear about putting this work into the world is its potential to do harm. It deals with subjects that can send minds spiralling and it unrelentingly talks of bodies when, sometimes, I think bodies are best left unsaid. These are the concerns I have with the story in book form.

In film, though, those concerns are amplified. I’m so anxious and uncomfortable about the ways in which women’s bodies are generally mediated: as spectacles, disasters, masterpieces, objects of nothing but desire. Thin Girls deals with extreme thinness and fatness and both gaining and losing weight, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen these subjects covered responsibly on a screen to date. I’m not sure if it’s possible, but I hope it is!

If I’m not panicking about all of that, though, then I’d cast the Olsen Twins as the leads. Duh. It’s a book about twins and they’re the face of twinship. Mary Kate would play Rose. While I think every woman in the western world has disordered thinking about eating and food, Mary Kate struggled with anorexia, specially, which is what Rose is diagnosed with, so I think she’d understand the character through and through without having to do any scary research or method acting stuff. Ashley would play Lily. Unfortunately, though, I don’t think the Olsen twins are acting much these days. I miss them.

When I talked with my film agents about the book, they thought Dakota and Elle Fanning would suit the characters, and I agree with that casting choice, too. There’s this Nicholas Winding Refn film, Neon Demon, which played an important role in inspiring the book I’m working on now, and Elle Fanning is the star of that story.

The film’s soundtrack is easy. I listened to non-stop bubblegum pop while I wrote this book, and something about the contrast between writing such dark material and listening to these upbeat adolescent tracks (I’m talking "Sugar Sugar" by The Archies and "Wouldn’t It Be Nice" by the Beach Boys) made me realise that the negative space surrounding these sticky sweet songs is super eerie. Once a song finished, the space between that track and the next one felt quieter than silence. It’s like, listen to this clappy, dancey music so you can pretend you’re not sad and scared. I love it.

Colour scheme would also be really important to me in the cinematic version of Thin Girls. I see colours when I write and they play an important part in my revision process. As I draft, I see hints of hues and, when a section is working, the colours stop being murky and become really clear. I know it sounds woo-woo, but I see this book in three distinct parts with three corresponding colour schemes. There’s this clinical white and grey section set at Rose’s recovery facility in the beginning, followed by a grungy neon and too-bright-against-too-dark scheme when Rose is discharged from the facility and as she unravels further into her illness. The last section of the book is nature drenched, lots of greens and blues, as the story finds its hope.
Visit Diana Clarke's website.

--Marshal Zeringue