Emma Jane Unsworth’s hit novel Animals will be brought to the screen by Adelaide’s own Sophie Hyde.
Animals marks Sophie Hyde’s first major feature film since the critically acclaimed 52 Tuesdays was released in 2013. Already in the casting and financing stage of production, Animals has confirmed up-and-coming actor Holliday Grainger for the main role, and is seeking key financiers. Speaking with The Adelaide Review, Hyde says the adaptation of the smash-hit novel was something she was glad to be invited to do. Since signing with an LA agency after the global success of 52 Tuesdays, Hyde had seen many scripts, but few that she was compelled to work with. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work on something that wasn’t my own,” she says, noting that much of her own work comes from close collaboration and personal development, but that she loved Unsworth’s novel and its script adaptation right away. Animals tells the story of two best friends and drinking buddies living in Manchester who come to confront stark expectations of adulthood when one of them becomes engaged to a teetotaller. Told with glorious honesty the novel examines the choices young women make in their lives, what roles they are expected to play and how they deal with constant scrutiny from society. Working right away with Unsworth and producer Sarah Brocklehurst, Hyde was impressed by Unsworth’s film adaptation of her own novel. “Often there’s this idea that writers can’t bring their novel into a film context, but that wasn’t the case at all with [Unsworth]” For Hyde, the progression from 52 Tuesdays to Animals is a natural one. “I love to look at what it means to be a person in the modern world, and I guess in terms of similarities [to 52 Tuesdays] it had this frankness about being a modern human, a modern woman.” When it comes to the alcoholic subject matter, Hyde was also excited to take on a piece that looks at western drinking culture in a different way. The story contains a lot of drinking, but it’s not always portrayed in the same “black and white” fashion that so much modern media portrays the practice in. “I loved the idea that this movie was wasn’t just about condemning that part of your life.” A uniquely English story, Animals has had a wide appeal in its modern feminist outlook, as Lena Dunham listed it as one of her favourite books of 2015, and Caitlin Moran described it as “Withnail and I with girls”. The story will stay in Manchester and Hyde is excited that the film’s star, Holliday Grainger, hails from the city herself. This news comes in a very active period for Closer Productions. Hyde says of the group, “we have our fingers in a lot of pies at the moment. There’s plenty to be busy with. We’re all off doing something somewhere.” Watch Emma Jane Unsworth read from and chat about the hilarious Animals below closerproductions.com.au