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Marc Klein On ‘The In Between’ And The Need For Romantic Stories

Love stories have a hold on us. They can show us the beauty, fear, and pain of being open and vulnerable with our hearts. It’s something Marc Klein knows all too well. 

As both the author of the novel of The In Between as well as the screenwriter of its upcoming film adaptation, Marc has developed worlds of love and loss set within reality and the supernatural.

I got the chance to speak with Marc Klein about The In Between and his deep appreciation for romance stories.  

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Who is Marc Klein?

Marc Klein felt inspired by his father, who would write books in his free time as a businessman. After spending nights as a child falling asleep to the sound of his father’s typewriter, Marc decided to enter his high school’s literary magazine contest and won for his first-ever short story. He soon embarked to NYU film school and pursued writing and directing, which brought him out to the bright lights of Hollywood.

Marc Klein has written numerous screenplays, like the beloved John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale film Serendipity and the modern Snow White adaptation Mirror Mirror. He’s also worked to adapt stories for the screen, including Melissa Bank’s A Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, and consulted on various Nicholas Sparks adaptations. The In Between is Marc’s latest project. 

The In Between is Ghost for the modern audience 

In the movie, we see Tessa (played by Joey King), a 17-year old girl who doesn’t believe in love. When she meets the charismatic and romantic Skylar (played by Kyle Allen), Tessa begins to open up. After tragedy strikes and Skylar dies, Tessa goes on a spiritual journey to reconnect with him and get answers. 

When developing the story, Marc Klein channeled his own experiences growing up in New Jersey and dealing with tragedy after an ex-girlfriend passed in a tragic accident. While difficult to emotionally process, Marc felt like his ex-girlfriend was reaching out to him. “I started reading up on after-death communication (ADC), and there’s a whole, like, sort of scientific paranormal field focused on these things,” he explains. “It turns out ADCs are common in every culture so it felt like a universal experience and interesting area to explore.”

Like Demi Moore’s character in Ghost, Tessa loses her love and begins to connect with him through supernatural ways. While The In Between can be seen as an updated version of the ‘90s movie, it’s more nuanced than that. Rather than focus on the mature love between 2 adults, this story follows first love between young people. “It felt easier for me to place those characters in the world that I grew up in as a teenager, and hopefully that would help bring back some of the authenticity of the experience,” Marc says. 

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Marc Klein’s process penning the book and script for The In Between

It’s not too often you find an artist writing a book and script simultaneously. For The In Between, Marc Klein dove in head first with both mediums. Initially, Marc began writing the manuscript for the novel but changed course when his agent shared the possibility of client Joey King taking an interest in this story. Eventually, the movie idea was pitched and sold to Paramount+, with Joey King and director Arie Posin collaborating with Marc

“The benefit was that when I was concentrating on the book, if I came up with an amazing idea, I would just rush right over and add it to the script,” Marc explains. “It was very much this symbiotic relationship between the 2.” 

 

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Although drained from this dual project, Marc Klein could fully immerse himself in the characters’ lives. It makes it easier for readers and audiences to relate to a story when the characters feel more genuine.   

The In Between’s magic comes from Joey King and Kyle Allen’s chemistry

While Joey King had signed on to play Tessa from the beginning, the film needed their Skylar. “What we had always said was, this movie lives or dies on the chemistry between whoever plays Tessa and Skylar,” Marc Klein says.

As the audition process for Skylar began, COVID immediately halted plans of chemistry reads and screen tests. After stumbling upon Kyle Allen’s audition tape, they took a leap of faith and hoped that Joey and Kyle would have the perfect chemistry for Tessa and Skylar. “On the first day of shooting, they were sitting in a jeep together, and they had a kiss,” Marc says. “They did their scene, and for me, it was a relief.” Marc knew audiences would fall in love with them as a couple from that moment on. 

 

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With COVID protocols on set, the filming process was trickier to navigate, making it harder to build relationships within the cast and crew. Seeing Joey King and Kyle Allen act, though, made Marc look past those difficulties. “Watching Joey and Kyle doing their thing together every day brought back for me a lot of memories of my first love when I was in high school,” Marc says. 

During filming, Marc observed different elements from his youth reappear for the movie, like driving in a classic Jeep Wrangler or showing up for his SAT. In a way, this film let him relive his adolescence.  

“One of the fun things about making movies is that you imagined something, and then you show up on the set,” Marc explains, “It’s just like magic, you know, and it’s the little details sometimes that make your movies and your books more personal.” 

 

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Female-driven love stories are Marc Klein’s euphoria

Throughout Marc Klein’s career, he has gravitated towards penning female-driven love stories. “Ever since I was young, all of my favorite books were always about women or girls. I love Judy Blume, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights,” he says. “I just find women a little bit more interesting. They’re more complex. There are more emotional layers to it.”

Women writers are often more known to be the ones to write female-driven love stories compared to men. Marc is able to add his own perspective to the conversation, making his stories even more refreshing. “There’s absolutely no reason why a romantic story shouldn’t be able to draw in all audiences,” he says. 

Marc Klein has written numerous romance styles, including romantic comedies and romantic supernatural movies, but the stories that stick with him the most are the ones with bittersweet endings. “There’s something very deep about experiencing a journey with a group of characters, who’ve been in love,” he explains, “and it’s pulled apart, but as a result of having been together, both of them are transformed by the experience.” Barbra Streisand and Robert Redfords The Way We Were, the Italian film Cinema Paradiso, and Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights are just a few of Marc’s favorites. 

Marc is writing about the reality of life. We go through life experiencing multiple “true love” relationships that often end in some type of failure. What’s powerful, though, is the ability to capture the joy of that love and how losing it can transform a person.   

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