Wednesday, January 29, 2014

John talks TFIOS and more on wfyi Radio

John talked being an author, nerdfighteria and a lot more on the "No Limits" program on wfyi radio station today.

He talks about the movie right at the beginning and the end of the broadcast. The whole thing is exactly one hour long but we recommend to listen to it all since it is really a great interview.

You can listen to the whole interview here at the source.

Transcription of the parts in which he mentions the TFIOS movie after the cut.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about what that [seeing TFIOS being made into a movie] experience was like?

John: Yeah, I mean it was completely surreal. I was really lucky that I was able to be there for almost the entire filming of the movie, that's really rare for authors to be able to be on the set that often. Usually the author of the book comes for a couple of days. I was welcomed there by the director Josh Boone and by the producers and I became really good friends with the actors and that was a really special experience for me because those people are gonna be Hazel and Gus, the main characters in the movie, and Isaac and Hazel's parents. Those are gonna be those people, those characters for a lot of people who encountered the stories, it was really special for me to get to know them so well. I was really lucky they took it so seriously. A lot of them are quite young but they were so deeply committed to it and I think that shows.

Q: Did you have any trepidation about it being made into a movie?

J: Oh yeah, of course, I mean it's difficult because that's when your control ends. The only decision that you can make is whether to sell the rights and if you do then you don't have any more decisions, you don't have any more control. I'm really lucky that the people who were involved in the movie cared about what I thought and so from the beginning I've been able to be involved in any way that I wanted to be and they've always listened to me very carefully and it's been a really wonderful experience. But I also know that that's quite rare. I've also had terrible experiences in Hollywood so this has been a very...

Q: What have been some of the terrible ones?

J: Well, all of my other books... all of my previous books were optioned and developed to one extent or another. I tried to adapt one of my own books, "Paper Towns", a few years ago and that was a disaster on many levels, starting with me being a terrible screenwriter but all of those experiences really went into this... allowed me to maybe have a little more perspective than I had in the past.

Q: We've gotten questions a listener who didn't wanna go on the air named Jennifer who says, "Your novel, The Fault in Our Stars, is becoming an on-screen film. Will it be the same as the novel or will the viewer see some differences?

John: Well it won't be the same because books are made of text. Like, the magic of reading to me is that you have to be an active participant in the creation of the narrative because those words are just meaningless scratches on the page until you bring your intellect to them and translate them into ideas.  [...] The action takes place inside your mind. And that's just a very different experience than an image-driven narrative or a sound-driven narrative and I think movies are both. So it's always gonna be different and of course, if you're condensing a 350 page novel into 2 hours there's some stuff that's gonna be lost but all of that noted I think it's an extraordinarily faithful adaptation, one of the most faithful adaptations I have seen.

Q: Was that important that they adhere to what you've done?

J: I told them over and over again, I don't care if it's faithful, I care if it's good but they managed to do both.

Q (Thomas): I'm wondering, why was the movie filmed in Pittsburgh and not in Indiana? How are they gonna recreate like Holliday Park [...], etc.?

J: That's a great question. They did not film the movie in Indiana because it would have cost a lot more money to do so because Indiana doesn't have tax breaks and also because the states that do have tax breaks, like Pennsylvania, have really experienced crews who have been making movies full time for 20 years. So they filmed it in Pittsburgh. The answer to your questions is that the parks are recreated. There's a really important scene in the novel that takes place at Funky Bones, a couple of scenes actually, and both of those are in the movie. Funky Bones is a sculpture at the IMA's Art and Nature Park Iand they just recreated Funky Bones. It was the most extraordinary thing to see, it looked... I mean I brought my wife who curated the project to Pittsburgh that day and she couldn't tell the difference. They worked really, really hard to make it look and feel like Indianapolis so we just had to find some flat streets in Pittsburgh.


The nice thing about Pittsburgh is that it does have the kinds of neighborhoods I was writing about but you know North Central High School was really great about providing lots of stuff so that... which is where Gus goes to high school... they were awesome. I really think it's going to look and feel like Indianapolis but I was a little bummed out they couldn't make the movie here but it would've been prohibitively expensive.

Q: Who was the hardest character to write about and watch in the movie and why?

J: So the novel centers on these two young people Hazel and Gus... it's narrated by this girl Hazel and she meets this boy Gus at a support group for teenage cancer survivors, they're both... he's in remission, she's living with Stage IV cancer and you know, writing about Gus was easy but watching Ansel become Gus I realized what an insane challenge I had created for him and so that was really interesting because Augustus Waters is a really complicated kid and he has to be a lot of things at the same time, he has to be very strong at times and extremely vulnerably at others and Ansel just pulled it off brilliantly... I mean I just saw the movie so I'm still kind of awash in having seen it but his performance is just spectacular.

Q: Will you do any kind of nerdfighter-tour for the movie premiere?

J: [explanation word nerdfighter] I don't know if there's gonna be a nerdfighter tour associated with the movie that isn't totally my decision, it is largely the decision of people at the movie studios. We'll find out in the next couple of months.

Q: Do you have any promotional obligations in regard to the movie?

J: Yes.

I really encourage you to listen to the whole interview since it is a great one!

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