“I‘ve been very lucky that they wanted me to be involved,” Dashner said. “They gave me the script and I gave feedback. The director, Wes Ball, he’d call or email me a lot with little questions. They brought me out to the set. It’s just been really fun to have a small part in it.”
Hale was also thoroughly involved in the production of “Austenland,” co-writing the screenplay with Hess, visiting the set and, like Dashner, doing a cameo.
“Sometimes it was exactly what I imagined, sometimes nothing like what I imagined, but always wonderful,” Hale said.
While having a novel made into a film is an accomplishment for any author, it can also be rife with its own complications — often in how to adapt the written word into the visual medium of a film.
“I’ve always been a little nervous about it. I knew I’d be devastated if the movie wasn’t very good,” Dashner said. “But luckily, most of it goes back to the director Wes Ball. He has just really captured the vision of the book. They’re staying very true to it. All the characters are there, all the major events are there. The basic plot and premise is all there. So I’ve just been thrilled. I’ve seen a little bit of footage that has made me feel very confident that the final movie is going to be awesome.“
Dashner said that anytime a book is turned into a movie there have to be some changes made, but those changes should reflect the spirit and vision of the book.
“You take a book, and you take the spirit of the book, and you turn it into a cinematic experience,” Dashner said.
Co-writing the screenplay, Hale helped to create many of the changes to “Austenland.” Like Dashner, Hale said she knew changes had to be made. According to Hale, most of the changes came about organically as the screenplay was written and rewritten.
“The changes were the most fun,” she said. “I don't feel frustrated by things that didn't come out as I imagined. I can enjoy the film for what it is. The book still exists on its own, so for me nothing is lost."
While Dashner is still waiting to see the final product, Hale experienced her film’s premiere early this year at the Sundance Film Festival. Hale said sitting in a theater with hundreds of people watching the film for the first time was “pure magic.”
“I've had a wonderful writing career, but reading is such an intimate entertainment. I don't get to be there to experience others first reading my story,” she said. “At the Sundance premiere, I was there, 1,500 people in the theater were laughing, and I just sat there crying. The response couldn't have been more gratifying.”
Katie Harmer is a journalism graduate of Brigham Young University and writes for Mormon Times. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: harmerk
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