July 6th, 2013

German VA 1

Vampire Academy movie set, part 1!

I've been pretty bad about blogging, so a lot of my updates have come via social media lately. If you follow me there, you probably know the exciting news: I'm currently in London, visiting the set of the Vampire Academy movie! My journey started with a sleepless 9-hour flight from Seattle, which seemed incredibly long until I was met with awestruck looks from people who'd taken 6 hours to fly from New York and couldn't figure out how the math added up, seeing as it takes almost 5 hours to fly from Seattle to New York. Apparently, my flight headed north and flew over Canada and Greenland (a route so northerly it never got truly dark out), and that shortened global circumference led to a "speedy" flight.

But you don't care about geometry. You want to know if I met Danila Kozlovsky and if he's as handsome in person as in his pictures. The answers are yes and even more yes. But I'll get there.

Joining me in London are my literary agent Jim McCarthy and Penguin US marketing director Erin Dempsey. We arrived at the VA set in early evening yesterday, where they were filming at a local university. Producers Don Murphy and Susan Montford met us and led us straight into...a classroom at St. Vladimir's Academy. Yup, there we were sitting off to the side of a giant lecture hall filled with Moroi and dhampirs. I can't tell you what they were filming, but I will say it was a scene from the book, one that's a big favorite. It's such a favorite of mine that after watching ten takes of it, I could've watched about ten more.

They do a lot of takes, not because of mistakes, but because they need all sorts of camera and microphone angles. It takes hours for what probably results in about a minute of film time. The dedication the cast and crew put into this is amazing! They have to sit there under those hot lights, doing a lot of waiting, and be ready on a moment's notice when action is called. There were guardians stationed around the class, looking stoic and protective, and they have the sweetest, most stylish jackets ever. They're also very heavy jackets, and between takes, those poor actors would take them off because of how hot it was and then quickly get back in when filming resumed.

And...actors. Who did I meet? Zoey Deutch (Rose), Lucy Fry (Lissa), Cameron Monaghan (Mason), Dominic Sherwood (Christian), Sami Gayle (Mia), Sarah Hyland (Natalie), Ashley Charles (Jesse), Chris Mason (Ray aka Ralf), Bronte Terrell (Camilla aka Camille), and Harry Bradshaw (Bruno aka one of Mia's friends). There was a third young man who came up to me with Jesse and Ray, introducing themselves as the "bad guys," whose name I didn't catch because we all got shushed as some action started. I lost track of him after that, so I apologize to him and hope to get his name for you later!

The actors were all so nice! Zoey is just as energetic as Rose and talked to me about how passionate and wonderful the VA fans are. Lucy, who you'll be pleased to know had beautiful green eyes (presumably contacts), was so sweet and talked to me about writing. Cameron, for obvious reasons, tried to sell me on rewriting Mason's part in the series. :) There was so much going on that I couldn't talk to any one person for a long time, which was probably the most disappointing part. I really wish I could've talked to each person at length and gotten to know them better. The one thing I took away from everyone, though, is that they're all having a great time. Obviously, I've never followed another movie's making so closely, so I don't know if it's always this way, but everyone just seemed so positive and to be genuinely having fun. I love that.

Everyone's been asking: how does it feel seeing my book brought to life? In a word: amazing. I'm just blown away at how much thoughtfulness and detail goes into this process. You guys seriously can't imagine how much work and manpower a movie requires. The actors work so hard, and then there's a huge unseen crew who's working just as hard every step of the way on tasks you would never even guess. I may have originally conceived these scenes, but they're the ones who have to visualize every single detail--from those amazing guardian jackets to the class assignments on the student's desks. Nothing is left to chance. Director Mark Waters was so in his zone making sure everything was perfect that I felt bad when he came and said hi to me--but of course he did because he's a super nice guy, and I'm so thrilled at the work he's doing. I've been telling people for years: I make books, not movies. Movies are these guys' specialty and it shows. They've visualized the scenes for the screen in ways I never could have, and if you're picturing incredible things for this movie...well, they're going to be even more incredible than what you're imagining.

So, yes, you've probably noticed I didn't mention any adult cast members. None of them (except Mr. Meisner) were on set for the classroom scene. Some have even wrapped and won't be back for the rest of filming. But, as Jim, Erin, and I were leaving for dinner, we passed Danila Kozlovsky (Dimitri) as he was coming in to work! We were all a little starstruck, but he's so nice and approachable that it's easy to instantly feel comfortable around him. He thanked me for writing the books and I asked him about his experience so far. He said he's having a great time and learning a lot. This is his first English film, but I tell you, I think his English is better than mine. He and Jim talked a little Wimbledon. I don't follow it, but they were both pleased with last night's results, so that was good. Danila kissed my hand goodbye and then headed off to join the others for another long night of working on this wonderful, beautiful project.

And that was day one. We (especially me, who hadn't slept in almost two days) were jet-lagged and chose to go back to our hotel after dinner. We'll be back on set tonight and might even get to see some action scenes! I know many of you are anxious for pictures, and all I can say is: they're coming. Because there's been no official press shots yet, all images are tightly regulated. There's a long and complex explanation, but the short version is: be patient, they're coming! Once the first shots are released, there'll be a floodgate of images of actors and scenes, both professional and my candids. So stay tuned because things are about to get awesome(r).
Little Dhampir

Vampire Academy movie set, part 2!

Well, that's a wrap for me. This was just a short and sweet visit to the London set, and tomorrow I return home to Seattle and my family. I've had an amazing time, and today was especially amazing since I actually had a good night's sleep behind me. It makes a huge difference!

Today started with a wardrobe crisis. Fortunately, my agent brought his significant other along, who just happens to be a costume designer and has a great eye for style. He went out and bought me some things to try on, and amazingly, they all fit perfectly. I can't even pick stuff off the rack in my own size, let alone convert with UK sizes. Now I never want to do my own shopping again. I kept it all and looked super snazzy for set tonight, which was a good thing because I had to do a bunch of interviews when I got there. I talked to some really lovely people, and you guys are going to hear lots of good info from me and the cast once these stories get out.

After that, we got to watch some interior shots being filmed within the school. Much like last night, I was so enchanted that watching take after take never got old. When that wrapped up, we were given a super amazing experience: they made us a rough 14-minute montage of some of the scenes they've shot so far to give us an idea of the breadth of actors and sets.

You guys, it was amazing.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Richelle, you would never tell us if the movie was bad." That's true. However, I also wouldn't keep saying it was good. I would emphasize other things, like how beautiful the actors are (because they are), and never talk about the movie itself. But I'm here telling you, the footage I saw was INCREDIBLE. I got chills. Jim, Erin, and I even conferred to make sure we aren't just biased. But seriously...I can't believe how wonderful what I saw was. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine they could portray the power of the book so well. The chemistry between the actors is off the charts--and I don't just mean romances (though you could feel that too! Zoey/Danila and Lucy/Dominic knocked it out of the park as their respective couples). But the friendships there are so strong too. Zoey and Lucy are as different as Lissa and Rose are...and yet complement each other so perfectly. When you see them acting together, showing Lissa and Rose looking out for each other, it just pulls at your heart.

Which brings me to an important topic: Mason. I didn't see any clips of Cameron Monaghan tonight. I didn't have to because they were filming one with him six feet in front of me. So I got to see him up close and personal, interacting with Rose. Stop reading if you haven't read Frostbite because I've got to tell you something. For years, I've been asked if I felt bad about what happened to Mason. And I've always said no, no, it was the way story had to go, tragic though it was. But man, I tell you, guys, I can't say that anymore. After meeting Cameron (who's incredibly funny and nice) and seeing him put his heart into the role, I now have a flesh and blood face to put on Mason. And I felt SO BAD for him as I was sitting there. I felt like I needed to offer apologies to Cameron over and over. So, all of you who've thought I was so cold-hearted for what I did can now rejoice that I finally feel some guilt. :) That doesn't change the books, of course, so don't get your hopes up!

We wrapped up our night watching some action-packed stunt scenes outside, which was pretty fun. Director Mark Waters let me sit by him and his monitors as they filmed and checked footage. Cool process. Around midnight, my group and I finally decided to head back to our hotel, so we made our goodbyes. Danila and Zoey were in the middle of action takes on the set, but they let me run onto it and hug them goodbye. They were so sweet. They and all the rest of the cast were super nice to me. They really are just a great group of friendly, hardworking people who love what they do, and I couldn't be more thrilled at the interpretation they're doing for my books.

Now, I know you guys are anxious for pictures, and all I can advise is patience. I still don't have authorization to post any, but hopefully I've painted you a good picture with words! There really haven't been any big, official pics released yet, and they want to make sure that when they come out, they're done right and chosen well. Hang in there--you should be seeing something this week, at the very least some props or behind-the-scenes candids.

Thank you so much for all of your enthusiasm and support! I've loved reading your reactions here, on Twitter, and on Facebook. I've felt like you traveled with me. It means so much to me and the people working on the movie to know you believe in them. And I want to offer my own thanks to all of them as well. The actors are putting their hearts and souls into bringing the characters to life for us, and that unseen crew of hundreds is working so hard on stunts, costumes, and a million other essential things. I am so honored by the job they're doing.

Talk to you soon from the States!