Judy Blume’s first movie set for release

Judy Blume’s first movie set for release

by -
0
Willa Holland (Davey) and Justin Holtzen (Hugh) share a moment in "Tiger Eyes." — Photo courtesy of Lawrence Blume

The movie version of best-selling young-adult novelist and Martha’s Vineyard summer resident Judy Blume’s “Tiger Eyes” hits movie theaters this weekend. The first movie made from any of Ms. Blume’s novels, it is expected to begin playing at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center on June 20.

“I will be there,” says Ms. Blume’s son, “Tiger Eyes” director Lawrence Blume, of the Vineyard opening. When Mr. Blume spoke with the Times several days ago, he said he plans to participate in a Q&A after the Vineyard screening of the film. Like Ms. Blume and her husband, George Cooper, Mr. Blume summers on Lake Tashmoo in Vineyard Haven.

“Tiger Eyes” tells the story of a teenaged girl named Davey, played by Willa Holland, who is coping with the loss of her father while trying to adjust to a new life in the Southwest. She meets a young Native American named Wolf, played by Tatanka Means, and through their friendship and her exposure to Native American customs, Davey learns to accept her father’s death.

“Judy and I collaborated,” Mr. Blume says of the movie. “My background is as a film editor, so I’m structural. Judy is an instinctual writer.

“It’s so close to me personally,” Mr. Blume said of the film. He grew up in Los Alamos and Santa Fe, N.M., where “Tiger Eyes” is set. Earlier in his career, Mr. Blume worked on a different script about Wampanoag Indians. The research he did on that script and his experience growing up in New Mexico familiarized him with the way Pueblo Indians deal with death.

Mr. Blume wrote most of his part of the script on the Vineyard. While the Los Alamos community was de facto segregated at the time the novel, published in 1981, was written, Mr. Blume says Los Alamos, site of the National Laboratory where nuclear weapons are designed, is not like that now. He modified the novel’s Native-American theme to focus on a girl from New Jersey who moves to New Mexico and has never met a Native American before. Wolf introduces her to Pueblo culture.

“There’s a real connection,” he says, “and a more interesting dynamic.” Mr. Blume has been coming to the Vineyard since 1995. For as much as four or five months of the year depending on his workload, he lives in a cabin by the water on the Tashmoo property he shares with his mother and stepfather. “I try to base myself on the Vineyard,” he says, “even though I have to travel around a lot. It’s so peaceful, my imagination runs wild.”

Mr. Blume found working with his mother “sort of joyful. In some ways we work better as colleagues than as mother and son. It was about the work. She’s become a cultural icon. To share her work on film is great.” He calls “Tiger Eyes” a discovery movie, a classic coming of age story that people of all ages respond to.

At some point in the future, Mr. Blume hopes to film his mother’s novel “Summer Sisters,” which is set on the Vineyard. “It’s going to take a little time to develop,” he says. “It’s kind of barrel aging.” In the meantime he has several other projects in the works, including a thriller set in New Mexico and an adaptation of a graphic novel about two blues musicians from the Deep South.

When Mr. Blume is not working on a script, he spends time on the Island sailing with friends, taking out his Grady White fishing boat, or kayaking with his stepfather, Mr. Cooper. “I love boating and fishing,” he says. “It’s a great form of meditation, since I don’t catch that many fish.”

When not boating, he spends time golfing, calling himself an “obsessive golfer,” and playing ice hockey at the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena. Mr. Blume has also walked every Land Bank and The Trustees of Reservation property on the Island. “I live in Manhattan,” the director adds. “What I love about the Vineyard is the sense of community.”