The soaring success of An Education is the worst-kept secret in Park City today, and novelist and breakthrough screenwriter Nick Hornby isn't about to let star Carey Mulligan hog all the Sundance-darling honors.
Hornby persuaded his wife, producer Amanda Posey, to option the memoir by Lynn Barber — a British journalist known for "devastatingly accurate profiles of celebrities," in Hornby's words. It was the author's first adaptation in 11 years (and his first ever of work besides his own); at Sunday's premiere, he described the learning curve that yielded arguably the festival's best film.
"When you get to the end of a screenplay, you realize you hadn't done anything you set out to do," Hornby said. "It's almost over before you know it. So the process of drafting and redrafting, to me, is much more important in film because it feels like an undercoat of paint, and then a coat on top of that, and a coat on top of that. That's the only way to give it the texture that you want. Whereas writing a book, my first drafts tend to be in reasonable shape. You have all the time in the world to get things going. And of course all that business about murdering your darlings: There are scenes that have to go. There's no reason, when you're writing a book, why any scene should have to go. If it's working, no one's going to tell you it costs too much money to print those three pages.
"The reason I want to do film is because I want to be part of a collaborative process. I'm happy writing my books, but for 15 years, I've been sitting on my own in a room. It's nice to discuss what I'm doing as I'm doing it, rather than years after finishing it. I really enjoyed the process of working with Lone, working with the producers and working with the actors. It's really a lot of fun. But now I'm back on the book side. I miss it."
Fine, Nick — take your time. And if you really want to challenge yourself next time, give us a sequel.