How Allan Hawco and Lisa Moore brought the novel Caught to life on television

Allan Hawco and Lisa Moore on his adaptation of her novel as a five-part TV series, airing on CBC.
Allan Hawco (left) stars in the CBC Television adaption of Lisa Moore's novel Caught. (CBC/House of Anansi Press)

When Allan Hawco first read Lisa Moore's novel Caught, he thought it would be great on the screen. He called her as soon as he finished it, and got to work adapting it.

Caughtset in 1978, is about a drug dealer who breaks out of prison and heads across the country to hook-up with his friends. The five-part series is now on CBC Television with Hawco in the lead as David Slaney, the good-guy drug dealer who risks everything.

On trusting someone with your work

Lisa says: "It is a peculiar feeling to have someone reach straight into my imagination and pull out what was in there, embody it and put it on the screen. I was fascinated by it. I had told Allan all along, 'This is your baby. You have to have as much freedom as you want to do this.' I understand that when things go on the screen, they change and I believed that that was the way I felt. When I went into that room, before it came on the screen I did have this moment of 'well, I'll be polite.' But we were maybe five minutes into it and it just exploded right out of me this bellow — 'OMG, I love this.' I did think it was beautiful. The look of it, the light, the reflections — all of that felt like my writing in some strange way."

On bringing print to life

Allan says: "Lisa was very generous right from the start and I talked her through any changes I wanted to make. She gave me a carte blanche and free licence to do it in the most respectful and generous way. But it's hard because you go into someone else's world and you start constructing it through your world. You don't have the luxury to be sentimental about your own ideas, let alone someone else's. As a person who runs a writing room a lot, that's part of the job. You rewrite people's materials and you take their ideas and jump off of them. If you read the books, say five years ago, my hope now is that you won't know what's Lisa's and what's mine."

On the nostalgia

Lisa says: "When I was writing the novel, I was very aware. It is purposely nostalgic. I wanted the 1970s to be an edenic time, when people explored ideas of freedom and took drugs to open their minds to new perspectives and there was a sense of experimentation. I think you see that in the physical look of films from the time and even in this TV series, you see there's a willingness to make a beautiful shot."

Allan Hawco and Lisa Moore's comments have been edited and condensed.