Phoebe Gloeckner, the writer of the graphic novel “Diary of a Teenage Girl”, has been talking about the movie adaptation of her work in a U-M News Service press release Q & A. She gives some background on the project, and talks about Alexander Skarsgard wanting to know what happened to his character (Monroe) and the movie having to be less explicit than the book.
Phoebe Gloeckner, a U-M Stamps School of Art and Design professor, already made waves once with the 2002 release of her graphic novel, “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” based on her own teen diaries. The books detailed a young girl’s initiation into sex and drugs, beginning with an affair with her mother’s boyfriend.
Now, Gloeckner is poised to make waves again when the film adaptation – starring Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard, and directed by Marielle Heller (who’d previously adapted the book for the stage) – premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on January 25, 2015.
A U-M News Service press release contains a Q&A with Heller about her book and the film adaptation.
Q: The book is based on your own diaries and life growing up in 1970s San Francisco. Were you hesitant about handing over the rights to your story for stage and now, film?
Gloeckner:Over the years, I’ve been approached by three different directors about turning the book into a film but I was never comfortable with the vision that they presented. Maybe it was because I had my own vision for a film version. Then, Marielle Heller approached me about creating a play. I thought that was so insane and couldn’t imagine it whatsoever, so I said yes. Over the last eight years, as she was researching and writing, we developed a strong relationship and I grew to trust her. So when she approached me about turning the play into a film, I said yes.
Q: Did Marielle Heller, the actors, or the production crew consult with you during the filming?
Gloeckner: I’ve spent a lot of time with Marielle, and I’ve answered questions and dug up old photos and drawings and read script drafts. Ultimately, it was weird for me to be involved. The material is so personal. I had to defer to Marielle and allow her to follow her own creative vision and create her own piece. I don’t think the movie could possibly be as dark and, well, explicit as the book. It’s a film, so it has to get an R rating.
I was on the set quite a bit. It was an amazing experience. Alexander Skarsgard did ask me quite a few questions about Monroe, the character he plays. Among other things, he wanted to know what became of him.
Q: The novel has long been considered a masterpiece within the genre of graphic novels. Are there any aspects of your drawings or graphics being incorporated into the film?
Gloeckner: Marielle created animations based on my drawings for the movie. There’s one animation based on a comic I drew when I was 15. In the book, the comics are part of the narrative, but in the movie, I think they play a different role, illustrating Minnie’s mind as an artist. Another difference, by the way, is that instead of writing, Minnie records the diary out loud. This just worked much better for film.
Q: Will you attend the Sundance premiere?
Gloeckner:Yes, I will be there. I actually haven’t seen the whole film yet, just noncontiguous scenes. I’m really nervous but I think Marielle is even more nervous for me to see the film. It’s really emotional. This part of my life was traumatic, and there are probably parts of it I still haven’t processed. But ultimately, I feel lucky – how many people get to see actors act out their life stories?
Gloeckner teaches graphic storytelling, illustration and electronic book arts at U-M’s Stamps School. In 2008, she was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship to continue work on an ongoing project centering on the life of the family of a murdered teenager living in Ciudad Juárez, several hundred feet from the U.S.-Mexico border. She is currently working on an electronic, hybrid “multi-touch” novel based on her research in Juarez.