Writing Wednesdays: How The Kissing Booth went from novel to Netflix

April 18, 2018
Find out how my novel The Kissing Booth went from a novel to being a Netflix Original movie!

So maybe you've heard, but... THE KISSING BOOTH is a Netflix Original movie, and it's being released worldwide on FRIDAY 11TH MAY!

The Kissing Booth is the first novel I published. I originally posted in on story-sharing platform Wattpad back in 2011, where it gained over 19 million reads by the end of 2012, when I was offered a three-book deal with (Penguin) Random House.

And now it's becoming a movie! Crazy, right?

(You can find out more about how I got published here.)

I'm going to focus a lot of the upcoming Writing Wednesdays posts on here around TKBMovie (which I hope you'll forgive me for in advance, but I hope you'll find them interesting) and today, kicking that off, I wanted to talk about exactly how it's gone from novel to Netflix.

1. Optioning the rights to Komixx

Random House, at the time of signing me, had a partnership going with Komixx. My book deal gained a lot of attention online, especially because TKB was so popular already, and I was getting a lot of messages from agents in Hollywood saying they wanted to option the rights to my book. 

I met up with Komixx, also interested in optioning TKB. They were so passionate about the story and the characters and had such a great vision for it that I chose to sign with them.

Optioning the rights (which was done through my publisher) meant that Komixx paid me (and the publisher) to have the rights to adapt my novel for a period of time. At the end of that time, they were making progress and moving forward, so paid again to secure those rights for good.

2. Getting a scriptwriter

Komixx were responsible for so much of the hard work that went into setting up the movie. I know they spoke to various companies and sponsors and looked at various formats for adapting the novel. One of the biggest things they did was bring a scriptwriter on board.

Komixx got in touch with me to tell me about the scriptwriter they had in mind for the movie: Vince Marcello, who wrote Disney's Teen Beach Movie (which I totally watched and loved). We had a Skype call, where Vince told me all about his vision for the novel, how he saw the movie. We talked a lot about some of the changes he wanted to make (none of which were huge) and the characters - and I was so happy with Komixx's decision to have Vince on board.

3. The script!

When Vince had the script done, I got a copy - which I printed and read avidly on the train. I text my dad to say that Vince did a better job writing my book than I did. I loved it. I thought it was phenomenal. I laughed, teared up, had to stop reading a few times because I was just enjoying it so much I had to take a minute to absorb it. 

I did have a few notes, but they were all really minor things. (Like the word 'todger'... It was meant to be used as a British insult, but I'd never heard of it, and nor had any of my mates. My mum was less than impressed when I said part of my input was contributing an alternative swearword to the script.)

4. Bringing Netflix on board

The next step was bringing Netflix on board. This was probably the longest step. There was a lot of work being done on contracts at this point which contributed a lot of the time I spent waiting to hear what, if anything, was happening. This was a hugely exciting step, and for most of it, I couldn't share any of that news.

But it happened! 

Things were signed!

I got some more money (and so did the publisher)!

I also ordered... I think it was about twenty-five copies of my book, which I signed 'for the team at Netflix' and couriered back to Komixx to be sent to the Netflix offices, as a little thank-you to the team there. 

5. Casting

Oh, man. You have no idea how excited I was when Komixx told me that Molly Ringwald and Joey King were on board for the project! I couldn't announce it to anyone, but it was phenomenal.

I wasn't involved in the casting process. Most of this was down to Vince, as he also directed the movie. And when I saw the rest of the main cast, I could barely contain myself. They were all so perfect. Vince did such a stellar job there!

6. And action!

Filming started in February 2017 (just over a year ago, at the time of posting this). I got to fly out to Cape Town to set for a week and was completely mesmerised - but I'll talk more about that experience in a whole other blog post. Filming took a few weeks, and I was notified when it ended. (I may also have cried a little.)

7. The post-production waiting game

I wasn't involved in any of this process, but the guys at Komixx would update me - we were in production, then post-production, then they were looking at colour-grading and subtitles (and subtitles! Someone was writing the subtitles for my movie! Why was this such an exciting concept!)

But to be honest, this was the worst wait for me - because everyone knew I'd been out to set and I couldn't really share any of it! I had a rough idea of when the movie would likely be released, and I'd been out to set and met the cast, but there wasn't much to say until now - when we have a fixed release date that I can share with everyone! 

8. And now...

Now, we're less than a month away from release (did I mention? FRIDAY 11TH MAY! WORLDWIDE!) and things are ramping up! I can share the release date, and soon I'll be able to share more with you guys - like pictures from set, promotional pictures... a trailer! 

Stay up to date with all news about #TKBMovie over on my Twitter - and search 'The Kissing Booth' on Netflix to add it to your List now!

Have you got questions about the process, or the movie? I'd love to hear them, so please share in the comments below or Tweet them to me @Reekles.

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