J.K Rowling has updated her official website with answers to some questions she’s received. In it, it’s revealed that she has already began work on the screenplay for the third Fantastic Beasts film in the series of five:
1. What are you writing right now?
I’ve just finished the fourth Galbraith novel, Lethal White, and I’m now writing the screenplay for Fantastic Beasts 3. After that I’ll be writing another book for children. I’ve been playing with the (non-Harry Potter/wizarding world) story for about six years, so it’s about time I get it down on paper.
2. What is a typical writing day?
I try to start work before 9am. My writing room is probably my favourite place in the world. It’s in the garden, about a minute’s walk from the house. There’s a central room where I work, a kettle, a sink and a cupboard-sized bathroom. The radio is usually tuned to classical music, because I find human voices the most distracting when I’m working, although a background buzz, as in a café, is always comforting. I used to love writing in cafés and gave it up reluctantly, but part of the point of being alone in a crowd was being happily anonymous and free to people-watch, and when you’re the one being watched, you become too self-conscious to work.
The earlier in the day I start, the more productive I am. In the last year or two I’ve put in a couple of all-nighters on the screenplays for Fantastic Beasts, but otherwise I try and keep my writing to the daytime. If I’ve started around nine, I can usually work through to about 3pm before I need more than a short break. During this writing time, I generally manage to drink eight or nine mugs of tea. Being incredibly clumsy, prefer eating things that won’t ruin the keyboard when dropped. Popcorn’s ideal.
3. You have collaborated on several projects. How does that work?
The big difference between theatre and movies for me is scale. When I go down to WB Studios Leavesden and see a thousand people at work on Fantastic Beasts, building sets, making costumes, doing digital effects, making models and props and all the hundreds of other things that go into making a movie, it can feel utterly overwhelming. Terrifying thoughts run through your mind, such as, I must not break an arm, because all these people’s jobs depend on me getting the screenplay finished.
However, at the heart of the process is a very similar collaboration to the one I had on Cursed Child, this time with David Yates, the director, and Steve Kloves, who was the writer on seven of the eight Potter films and is a producer on Beasts.
In spite of the fact that I’d watched Steve close up for all those years, I found screenwriting utterly different from novel writing and very challenging at first. Basically, I learned how to write a screenplay as I went along, knowing that the movie was definitely going to be made, which is, to say the least, atypical. Steve gives great, pithy notes. The one that made me laugh longest was when I had a character in a cut scene in an early draft say, ‘They’re children!’. He said, ‘Yeah, unless we’ve got the casting badly wrong, that’ll probably be obvious.’
David knows the world of Potter intimately now, after directing four of the eight original movies. I love working with him. I learn a lot just listening to him talk about images. Even though I have a highly visual imagination, I’ve had to learn just how much can be said onscreen without a word, and David and Steve have taught me that.
The thing with movies is, however frustrated you get with the screenwriting process, and right at the moment when you think ‘never again, this is too hard’, you go down to the film set and join in with one big glorious game of pretend, with the world’s best pretenders saying your words, and dressing out of the most fabulous dressing up box, and what with the lights and the smoke and the music you’re suddenly in love with the process all over again.
4. What exactly is your role as producer? How much say do you have in the look and feel of the films?
Warner Bros and David Yates, the director, have always let me have my say, though not necessarily the final word. That’s true of all the producers, of whom I’m only one: our input is taken seriously but it is very much a collaborative effort. The director is ultimately responsible for everything that’s seen on the screen. As the screenwriter, the majority of my input comes at an earlier stage.