From Page to Screen: Selling the film rights to ‘The Boy Who Could See Demons’

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Carolyn Jess-Cooke's second novel, 'The Boy Who Could See Demons'
Carolyn Jess-Cooke’s second novel, ‘The Boy Who Could See Demons’

I am a poet and novelist published in 22 languages – I’m also Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. In 2014, the film rights to my second novel, The Boy Who Could see Demons, were optioned by Hollywood film producer Sebastian Dungan. Almost exactly at the same time, I received news that one of my poems had been placed in the National Poetry Competition and part of the prize involved the Poetry Society commissioning a filmmaker to make a ‘film-poem’. 

Both ventures have seen my work translated from page to screen and have involved very different and highly interesting processes. My novel was submitted by my agent to a number of filmmakers soon after its publication in 2012, and although it received some interest I was reluctant to pursue it. Sebastian Dungan – who has had some previous success as a producer, including two Oscar nods and a Sundance award – emailed me after coming across the book in a Los Angeles library, and after Skyping and discussing the ways in which he would film the book, I agreed to give over the rights. Thus followed quite a lengthy contractual process which I was glad not to have any part of – my agent saw to that. The next stage, though, should be exciting and I’m looking forward to seeing the film in production.

The ‘film-poem’ commissioned by the Poetry Society involved a film, music score and a recording of me reading the poem which was laid over the film – it’s an ethereal, evocative film (just a few minutes long) that speaks to the images and mood of the piece. I think it works very well. So far it has been screened at film festivals around the world and I’m delighted to have had the poem transposed in this way.


Words by Dr Carolyn Jess-CookeLecturer in Creative Writing (English Literature)

View Carolyn’s video on YouTube.

Learn more about Film and Broadcasting or discuss developing a partnership with the College of Arts with Dr Fraser Rowan the College of Arts Business Development manager by email or phone (0141 330 3885).

Post Author: Nicole Cassie