Let me state for the record that if someone bought the film rights to Shift I would instantly begin jumping around in a very excited manner. But at the same time I can’t help feeling a little puzzled whenever someone tells me that Shift would make a good movie. Why, exactly? Would the story work better? Reach a broader audience? Personally I don’t think I’ve ever liked a film adaptation as much the original book – although I’ll admit this is because I’m hard to please on this front. If the movie is too close to the book it’s often dull to watch, and things that work in print don’t always work on screen. But then if the film departs from the book too drastically it feels like it’s taking liberties with a beloved tale. See what I mean about being hard to please?
Having said that, it would of course be thrilling and fascinating to see my characters come to life. How would a film-maker interpret them? Who would they cast? I imagine that the central character in Shift – Miranda, with her constantly morphing looks and personality would be a fun (if challenging) role to play. How would Olive – the book’s somewhat unreliable, self-doubting narrator come across on the screen? Possibly like a complete weirdo. Or maybe she would be easier to empathise with in this format because we could see the way she really was, as opposed to how she tells us she is.
In my head Shift is very firmly positioned in Australia (which is where I’m from) – in one of the bayside outer suburbs of Melbourne. But the film could be set anywhere, really. The whole point of the location is its ordinary-ness: an ordinary suburb, and ordinary school filled with typical teenagers. Except for one not so typical one – Miranda.
Music is very important to Olive throughout Shift – it’s how she keeps herself together after her ‘incident’ and I imagine the soundtrack would be very important in any film adaptation. But Olive is also something of a musical snob, this would be the perfect t-shirt for her:
and I’m sure anything I suggested would not measure up. Nonetheless there are a few songs that I feel have a special connection with Shift. I’ve always imagined Olive having a similar, slightly kooky style and aesthetic as Swedish singer Lykke Li and this is the sort of song I imagine Olive’s favourite band – Luxe – performing:
When I’m writing I can’t listen to music (too distracting!) but I did sometimes find myself singing the words to this Belle and Sebastian number while working on Shift
– in particular the line: You’ve got the essence, dear / If I could have a second skin / I’d probably dress up in you. It seems like just the sort of thing that Miranda might hum when she and Olive are first becoming friends. And perhaps the film could finish with this scary song by PJ Harvey (thereby setting it up for a sequel):
You’re not rid of me / No you’re not rid of me…