'It really was surreal': Charlie Kaufman to adapt Ottawa author's novel for Netflix
Iain Reid talks about famous screenwriter adapting debut novel on All in a Day
No one was more surprised than Ottawa-born Iain Reid when famed screenwriter and film director Charlie Kaufman showed interest in adapting the writer's first novel.
"He came across the book just by chance. Amazon had recommended it to him based on some of his previous purchases," Reid said in an interview with CBC Radio's All In A Day.
"So he got the book, he read it, he really liked it and he got in touch with my agent. Then, I guess, the rest is history."
I'm Thinking of Ending Things is a psychological thriller with a twist ending about a couple who embark on a roadtrip to meet the boyfriend's parents.
Reid said he never thought about turning the book into a movie while he was writing it, let alone a Netflix adaptation.
It was his literary agent who made the calls a few months after the book came out. She hired a film agent and started connecting Reid with producers.
There's no one else better suited for this than him.- Iain Reid
Reid also never expected to get to chat with Kaufman, who wrote the scripts for such acclaimed films as Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
"I've always been a huge fan of his. His movies have meant a lot to me, so it really was surreal," Reid said. "I can remember getting that email [from my agent] ... something along the lines of 'I'm just wondering if maybe Monday you'd have some time to have a phone chat with Charlie Kaufman.'"
And Reid's response? "Yeah, I think I can manage that. That shouldn't be a problem."
Reid said the two hit it off right away and that working together was a no-brainer.
"I feel like some of the producers we talked with seemed a little more insincere and it was just always the opposite with him," he said.
'He's going to do his own thing'
The book has already been translated into more than a dozen languages and was shortlisted for both the Frank Hegyi Award for Emerging Authors and the Shirley Jackson Award.
Reid said that as co-producer, he's around to answer questions — about his motivation, for example, or why something was in the book — but it's up to Kaufman to turn the story into cinema gold.
I'm well aware that I am riding [Charlie Kaufman's] coattails right now, and I'm doing it happily.- Iain Reid
"I think the film is going to be its own entity. With someone like Charlie, what's exciting is he's going to do his own thing. I don't want it to be just a film version of the book, I want it to be standalone."
Reid added that there's a lot of potential to turning the book into a movie, but that it might be a challenge for anyone other than Kaufman.
"It is a very sort of literary book, sort of internal," he said. "Someone like Charlie is the perfect person to do it, because he's written some internal stories before, some philosophical stories. And I think that appeals to him."
"There's no one else better suited for this than him," Reid added. "I'm well aware that I am riding [Charlie Kaufman's] coattails right now, and I'm doing it happily,"
The Kaufman bump
Since Netflix made the announcement about the adaptation — which could begin filming in the fall — Reid said he's been hearing from a lot of people about the book.
His publishers are also happy about the increased attention the novel is getting, he said.
"I think because Charlie's attached to it now, a lot of people are going to the book for the first time. That's nice for me. I think anybody who writes a book, you're just sort of hopeful that people will find it," Reid said.
"It's sort of giving ... the book a second life."