screenwriter to watch
Jardine Libaire got her MFA in Writing from the University of Michigan where she was a Colby Fellow. Her most recent novel White Fur (Hogarth) was published in May 2017, and she’s adapting it now as a TV series with FilmNation and director Drake Doremus. Her first novel Here Kitty Kitty (Little, Brown & Co. 2004) will be re-published by Hogarth in 2018. Her creative nonfiction book (with photographer Phyllis B. Dooney) Gravity Is Stronger Here (Kehrer Verlag) about a meth-affected, dynamic, survivor family in Mississippi came out in April 2017. She’s been a recipient of the Hopwood Award, the Glascock Poetry Prize, and Honorable Mention for the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize in Documentary.
How did you break in?
I started out in short story, poetry and long fiction, and it took me a while to understand how to play and experiment in the screenwriting format since all I could see at first were the rules. But I was curious, and would often mess around with it. Reading hundreds of scripts is what finally showed me where the magic and possibility is in this medium, and when my most recent novel WHITE FUR got optioned for TV by FilmNation, I was ready and thrilled to write the series.
Writer, TV-series adaptation of the novel WHITE FUR, with FilmNation and director Drake Doremus
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
It’s never gonna be what you think it’s gonna be, but sometimes it comes out more beautiful or stranger or more soulful, so don’t hold on too tight.
What has been your hardest scene to write?
Every project is challenging, in my mind! Doubt is a constant demon, and I think dodging fear and moving forward is essential, but I try not to barrel ahead without paying attention to red alerts in the script or manuscript. Doubt is a useful signal to what needs attention; the ideal practice for me is to progress forward while also checking to make sure I’m being honest and writing from the heart.
What do you feel was your turning point?
What are you working on right now?
Working on a “family mystery” of a book that is half fiction and half memoir, based on real WWII letters between my grandmother and grandfather, (a nurse and a Navy captain). And collaborating on a script for a crazy little film scheduled to shoot this summer.
What are your favorite movies?
Oh lord, how to narrow this down? I love classics like Sunset Boulevard and A Streetcar Named Desire; I love noir like The Maltese Falcon and Double Indemnity; French New Wave like Breathless and Lola; camp and cult and experimental, Xanandu, Chantal Ackerman, John Waters, Showgirls, Jack Smith, Andy Warhol; films I adored growing up like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Do the Right Thing and Blue Velvet, obscure documentaries, road movies… I’ll watch everything and anything, high, low or sideways…. I love when a film is both exquisite and also has an emotional, important story; Moonlight was that movie for me in the past year.
What is your most Memorable AFF Moment?
I’ve had many memorable moments, but hanging out with Elaine May was fierce. She was about to do a Q+A, and was acting sort of disoriented and befuddled as she took the stage and tested her mike. Then the interview started, her eyes became laser beams of light, and she slayed everyone and everything. I realized the pottering around was part of the act, and that life and art are inseparable to a genius like her.