One of the best moments a reader can experience is finishing an amazing story. It’s also one of the most bittersweet, because there is where the story ends. When the final page turns, the characters and their world are left behind, the book closed. Readers carry a piece of the book with them, but can never regain that first discovery. This is where the magic of motion pictures comes in. When a beloved book is made film, readers are allowed the privilege of falling in love with story all over again. They experience a new awakening.
Nina LaCour, author of the beloved novel Hold Still, has taken the evolution of her story into her own hands. LaCour is venturing into the world of cinema and taking readers along for the ride, where they can rediscover Hold Still, and let go as they escape all over again.
Hold Still, your first novel is a powerful and heartbreaking novel about saying goodbye. What inspired you to pursue adapting the story for screen?
When I wrote Hold Still I found myself seeing it as I was writing. Though the novel is about grief, it’s also about art, so I’m really excited about conveying the story through a visual medium. I always dreamed that it would be a movie someday, but, of course, along with that dream came fears: what if the people making the movie turned the story into something I wasn’t happy with? So many beautiful novels are made into terrible movies. Even though I had taken a screenwriting class and felt like I knew how to make it into a successful movie, I never would have taken this step by myself. But I am fortunate to be surrounded by creative and talented people, so when my friend Amanda said that we should just go for this and make the film ourselves, I found myself agreeing immediately.
How is the screenplay for the novel different from the book (if it is at all)?
For the most part, the screenplay stays true to the book. Writing it was such a puzzle, because I wanted to cover the same span of time and the same emotional arc but had to do so in many fewer words and scenes. I also knew that we would have a tiny budget. We aren’t building any sets, only modifying existing places. But all of the major characters are in the film, and all of the main themes are, too. Ingrid’s journal is there and Caitlin’s car with her faux fur seats, and we have a darkroom and a high school and a movie theater–though, thankfully for the theater’s sake, we aren’t demolishing it for the film.
Was writing the adaptation like falling in love with the characters and story all over again?
Absolutely. I wrote Hold Still around six years ago, and this was the first time I actually read it in its published form. Even so, the novel was so familiar to me that I could barely see it anymore. Then, as I started writing the screenplay, it opened itself up to me again. I got pretty emotional when I wrote certain parts, and hearing the actors read the lines has been an incredible experience.
Will you talk a little about how Amanda Krampf and Kristyn Stroble became involved with the project?
I would! Kristyn Stroble and I are married and we love to do projects together. She’s my favorite photographer and together with Amanda Krampf, who has been my best friend since 9th grade, we’ve done quite a few video projects. Kristyn shot my book trailers for Hold Still and The Disenchantments. Amanda directed and produced them. We work so well together as a team because everything we do is collaborative and we have the same aesthetic tastes. I jump in and direct a lot, and Amanda tells me if a line isn’t working, and Kristyn always gets the most beautiful shots. People are so comfortable in front of the camera when she’s the one behind it. I hope that this will be just the first of many feature films the three of us make together.
A group of talented and experienced filmmakers and actors have come together, dedicated to pouring their energy, hearts, and time into this project. What has it been like to follow your passion together?
It’s been incredible. One of the best things about this project is that we are a team of people working for the love of it. We are crazy busy right now because we’re starting to shoot this weekend. We all have other jobs–some of us have office jobs and many of us are independent artists–so right now our lives are divided between our usual work and this film. There is little time for anything else. And even if we get the Kickstarter money, only a few of our principal actors and a few of our technical crew members will get paid. Still, people are staying up all night reading the script, writing to me with thoughts about their characters, collecting objects from their homes that we will be able to use for the sets. We believe that this film will touch people. That it will be meaningful. So we’re treating it like the biggest art project any of us has ever done, because that’s exactly what it is.
The goal is to raise $17,000 to cover production costs for Hold Still. Where are you right now with reaching your goal and where can readers and fans sign up to help?
We had the lofty goal of raising $1,000 per day. We’re just a tiny bit ahead of schedule now, with $9,800 raised and eight days to go. We need all the help we can get, and we have some pretty awesome rewards for donating, including all sorts of book and movie swag, portfolio critiques from the Editor-in-Chief of JUXTAPOZ magazine, prints by Hold Still illustrator Mia Nolting, and a novel critique from me. There are also portrait sessions with Kristyn and audition workshops with Amanda and chances to come on set and be part of the film. And we’re recording the names of every person who donates in an adorable little red Moleskine and posting them online every few days. Here’s the link to the page where you can donate and watch videos from the members of our cast. We’re posting new ones every couple of days. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676176768/hold-still-the-movie
Hold Still is an authentic and captivating journey. And the novel poses the question, “how does your life move forward when all you want to do is hold still?” Why do you believe this theme is so timeless and relatable?
Hold Still is about grief, specifically, the kind of grief that comes on after the suicide of a friend. I’ve found that the story resonates for a lot people even if they haven’t had to go through that specific kind of trauma. A reader once told me that she felt like the book spoke to adolescent friendships, how so many girls who are close in childhood end up fracturing in high school, and how that loss is so painful, it feels in the moment almost like a death. I think most of us, at some point in our lives, experience grief that feels paralyzing. And then we figure out how to dig our ways out of it. Gayle Forman, one of my favorite authors, wrote that Hold Still is “about the tender shoots of new relationships that grow unexpectedly out of tragedy.” I love that. And I think that it is true to life, too: awful things can lead to wondrous things. And most of the time those wondrous things come from other people who we end up letting in, even if we’d rather guard ourselves against more possible heartbreak. That’s really what the novel is about. And soon, I hope, what the movie will be about, too.
Visit project Hold Still: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/676176768/hold-still-the-movie