Screen time for Craig Silvey book Jasper Jones

Rachel Perkins and Craig Silvey.
Rachel Perkins and Craig Silvey.

WORKING on the film adaptation of Jasper Jones was an opportunity to work with a neighbour and long-time friend for director Rachel Perkins.

Securing the gig almost didn’t happen for Perkins, coming on to the project after the rights had already been snapped up and finding herself at the bottom of the list of director hopefuls.

“I read the book and I was really taken with it and thought it would make a great movie,” she said.

“By that time the rights were gone, so I was really disappointed about that because I thought it was something I could do; it resonated with me.

“But then a couple of years later I heard David Jowsey, one of the other producers, had the rights and I couldn’t believe it because he lives around the corner and I’ve known him for 20 years and I knew I could ring him and he may consider me.

“So I rang him up and asked to be put on the list and they were considering a number of directors because by that time it was a very popular novel; a lot of people were jostling for it.”

For author Craig Silvey, who adapted his own book about teenager Charlie Bucktin trying to solve a murder mystery in a small Australian town in 1969, it was an opportunity for improvements.

“There was interest to turn this into a movie very early on; the book had not yet been published, it was still a manuscript at that stage,” he said.

“It was a speculative thing. We weren’t sure what the trajectory of the book was going to be, we had no idea it was going to have this kind of endurance or reception, so it’s just something you do happily and cast it out there and see where it goes.

“I was ready to see it in a different way and I think Rachel was more respectful to the source material than I was.

“I was really quite involved in bringing the book across to the screen and I adored the opportunity, to be honest.

“Having toured the book it was an opportunity to get stuff back into it and try to improve it, to reacquaint myself with these characters and to try tell the story in a different way.

“I found the challenge difficult but really enjoyable.”

Jasper Jones is in cinemas March 2.