The Carsey-Wolf Center hosted an advance screening of romance film “The Fault in Our Stars” followed by a post-screening Q&A with director Josh Boone and executive producer Isaac Klausner at the Pollock Theater yesterday evening.
Based on the number one New York Times bestselling novel written by young adult fiction author John Green, “The Fault in Our Stars” follows the love story of two young cancer patients, Hazel Grace Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) and Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort), both of whom share a love for witty conversation, a desire to answer questions of the human condition and an understanding of life with pain. The event was presented as the Season Three finale of the Carsey-Wolf Center’s Script to Screen film series and was completely sold out, with all 296 seats of the auditorium filled.
The tale within “The Fault in Our Stars” begins when Hazel attends a cancer support group for the sake of appeasing her mother, who worries that Hazel has gone into a state of depression. On a typical day, Hazel finds the group dull and unhelpful. However, the film captures a particular group session when she meets Augustus, a charming, humorous and intelligent older boy who changes her perspective on love, death and existence.
In the post-screening Q&A, Klausner said both he and Boone read the book prior to the beginning of the film project. According to Klausner, the greatest fear when making the movie was the concern about the language in the book and the authenticity of the cancer patient elements within the story.
“The book, when we first read it, was so moving and powerful to us that … we really didn’t want to mess it up,” Klausner said. “We wanted to do it justice because it felt so authentic and emotional, and it was a great balance of the deeply felt pain but also the life affirming humor and love that just [applied] to people like Augustus.”
Boone said he “love[d] the love story” that the book created. In fact, Boone said the story had a personal, therapeutic impact on him because when he first read the novel, he was watching a close friend die of cancer. The book, according to Boone, was “powerful” and “helped [him] through a difficult time.”
Due to his personal connection to the story as well as other sources of inspiration such as film director John Hughes and photographer Ryan McGinley, whose photographic hues Boone largely based the film’s color palette on, Boone said he wanted “The Fault in Our Stars” to maintain a type of raw and faithful realism.
“We didn’t want something too stylized,” Boone said. “I mean, a little bit like that, but we also wanted it look as natural and realistic as possible.”
As a long-term fan of Green, Klausner said he woke up at 5 a.m. to pick up the book when it came out and, upon finishing it, began “shouting as loud as possible” that he must convince the author to let him make the book into a movie. Eventually, Klausner said he and some colleagues were able to incorporate Green into the movie making process, which Klausner said he feels extremely thankful for since Green was the “barometer” that knew what changes had to be made and when.
According to Klausner, the approach that he, Boone, Green and the rest of the team took was to stay true to the book by understanding the appeal of the story and using it to their advantage to shape the film.
For FF “This was a story that had the potential to connect with fans … with just how deeply, emotionally relatable the story was,” Klausner said. “Rather than change [the movie] to be something different and look for some arbitrary means at the side that are easier on focusing reconnecting, we try to focus on how the book is really connecting and get into the heart of why it connects.”
According to Pollock Theater Director Matt Ryan, the idea of bringing “The Fault in Our Stars” to the Script to Screen series was pitched by students to Elizabeth Gabler — 1977 UCSB alumna, Fox 2000 Pictures president and member of the Carsey-Wolf Center Advisory Board — who agreed on the idea. Ryan said the film was a “gift” to the series.
Ryan also said while Green and the screenwriter Scott Neustadter were not able to make it to yesterday’s screening, it was an honor to have the director and executive producer come to Santa Barbara and speak with students about their thoughts on the film as well as the filmmaking process.
“The idea of the [Script to Screen] series is to bring in writers, actors, directors [and] producers and talk about taking the story from script to screen, how it gets translated, how it all works,” Ryan said. “Students are very interested in learning how a story is done. It’s great, and the students like being able to engage with the artists directly.”
“The Fault in Our Stars” will be released in theaters on June 6. The movie marks the last screening of the season as well as the school year. The next screening of the Script to Screen series will take place in October.
A version of this article appeared on page 5 of the Thursday, May 29 2014 print edition of the Daily Nexus.