Chester Brown’s 2011 graphic novel Paying For It is being made into a movie to be directed and co-written by award-nominated filmmaker Sook-Yin Lee. The news broke via Telefilm Canada‘s latest list of English-language films to receive funding was released this week.
Lee took to Facebook and said about the announcement of the Paying For It movie:
“Cat’s out of the bag! I’m making a doozy of a movie! A live-action adaptation of #chesterbrown ‘s best-selling graphic novel Paying For It. Thank you for your support Telefilm Canada. It’s gonna be good. Praise to producers Wildling Pictures and Hawkeye Pictures .We’re putting together an outrageously awzum team. More details to come bit.ly/3OF4w3n congrats to all filmmakers!”
Lee’s involvement is notable in several ways. She’s a film-maker, broadcaster and musician who has produced a number of short films from 1990 to the present. Full features have included Octavio Is Dead! (2018) – nominated for 7 Canadian film awards – and Year of the Carnivore (2009) – nominated for 3 awards.
But acclaim aside, what will surely get the most attention is the fact that she was Chester Brown’s partner for many years, and the opening chapter of the graphic novel details their break up and the beginning of the curious saga that unfolded, which finds Brown turning to exclusively to prostitution instead of dating.
Telefilm Canada – a public body that supports Canadian film and television – released an official list of eight English-language films to be provided funding based on submissions in February 2022. Paying For It was on the list.
The entry read:
Paying For It (romantic comedy)
Director: Sook-Yin Lee
Screenwriters: Sook-Yin Lee and Joanne Sarazen
Production: Wildling Pictures Inc. and Hawkeye Pictures Inc.
Chester Brown’s 2011 surprisingly frank graphic memoir Paying For It was about Chester’s decision to frequent prostitutes following the ending of a relationship and his need to reconcile the desire for sex with his decision to remove himself from the possibility of monogamous relationships and romantic love.
The synopsis of the book from publisher Drawn & Quarterly‘s website:
“Paying for It combines the personal and sexual aspects of Brown’s autobiographical work (I Never Liked You, The Playboy) with the polemical drive of Louis Riel. He calmly lays out the facts of how he became not only a willing participant in but also a vocal proponent of one of the world’s most hot-button topics—prostitution. While this may appear overly sensational and just plain implausible to some, Brown’s story stands for itself. Paying for It offers an entirely contemporary exploration of sex work—from the timid john who rides his bike to his escorts, wonders how to tip so as not to offend, and reads Dan Savage for advice, to the modern-day transactions complete with online reviews, seemingly willing participants, and clean apartments devoid of clichéd street corners, drugs, or pimps.
“Complete with a surprise ending, Paying for It continues to provide endless debate and conversation about sex work.”
Joanne Sarazen, who acts as cowriter for the film also has two writing credits in the Telefilm Canada list – she is also credited as sole screenwriter for the drama Backspot, to be directed by D.W. Waterson. A relative fresh face for the screenwriting scene, Sarazen has a handful of screenwriting credits under her belt – the film Tammy’s Always Dying, and a short I Came Here Alone (both in 2019). She also has written six plays that have been produced.