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Blue Like Jazz the Movie

December 17, 2007

below is a interview with Donald Miller about Blue Like Jazz the Movie.  Its supposed to be hush hush, which I take to mean they want a lot of publicity.


Q: How are you going to take a book of essays and turn it into a movie?

A: Not easily, and yet somehow it seems to be working. There is only one scene in the movie that is in the book, and yet as we have tested the screenplay, people have expressed how much the movie does reflect the book. And so I think we have managed to capture some of the major characters and themes, but have turned those ideas into a narrative.

Q: When will the movie be out?

A: We are in negotiation with a couple studios now and so we are not sure. But we will be filming the movie in Portland on the campus of Reed College in April, May and June of 2008, and my guess it will hit theaters about six months later. If all goes well.

Q: Did you write the screenplay?

A: I was a member of a three-man team that wrote the screenplay. Steve Taylor and Ben Pearson were the other guys. Steve will direct the movie, and has an uncanny ability to create and understand stories. He really gets the concept of story in an uber-intuitive way. Ben Pearson will be the Director of Photography and so brings a visual element to the writing, always asking how things will look on screen. He provided guardrails for us as we moved the story forward. And I provided a lot of dialogue and emotion to the script. But it was definitely an even effort and I could not have done anything like this alone.

Q: How is writing a screenplay different than writing a book?

A: Writing a screenplay is more fun, at least the way we wrote this one. In writing a book, I may write a line and think it is funny, and only after thinking about it for a couple days realize that it isn’t funny at all. But in writing the screenplay with the guys, I would blurt out a line and they would tell me it wasn’t funny. What once took two days now took two seconds. And because of that the writing got much better much faster. Everybody was always looking at each other’s blind spots. Another difference is that in a book I can talk about internal dynamics, emotions and feelings and the dynamics of processing an idea. But in film this isn’t so possible. The essence of a movie is story. And so rather than talking about how I was learning to understand grace, we needed to show a character developing through actual physical events. This was a challenge, but it was a fun challenge for me. I think I learned more about writing from doing this screenplay than I did from all the books I’ve written combined. Now that I am writing another book, I find myself going back to the tools I picked up in writing the film.

Q: If the movie doesn’t follow the book, is the movie a true story?

A: No. Though the themes are very similar, because we needed a story we had to be creative. The movie does have a moral, though, and that moral is true.

Q: What would you say the movie is about?

A: It’s about a kid who learns to not be ashamed of whom he is. In the beginning, he is ashamed of his faith. He feels that faith is socially and intellectually inferior so he wrestles with loving his community while still not wanting to be a part. When he goes off to Reed, he finds escape from that, but through a relationship with Penny, has to confront the reality that faith is larger and more encompassing than he had judged. And he has to face the fact that he is a poser and is as judgmental as those he would consider to be his enemies. And the story goes on from there.

Q: Where can we learn more about the movie?

A: We’re still in a hush-hush stage right now, just because casting and filming are up in the air for a couple more months. But I will be updating people on my website as things unfold. I think it’s going to be a fun and touching movie, and I can’t wait to start screening it with fans of the book.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 18, 2007 7:02 am

    When is Blue Like Jazz on ice coming out?

  2. December 18, 2007 10:44 am

    you secret identity is safe with me budyday! And to answer your question…I think it is touring next fall.

  3. December 18, 2007 2:03 pm

    Ha! Thanks.

  4. December 19, 2007 3:18 pm


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