Author talks perks of directing
Stephen Chbosky, author of the 1999 classic high school novel “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” was at the Four Seasons Hotel and Resort on Tuesday to discuss the novel’s adaptation to film, which premieres Friday in Houston theaters.
The film’s script, under the same name as the novel, had the special quality of being organically written, produced and directed by Chbosky himself.
“Wallflower” is a coming-of-age story based on Chbosky’s own teenage experiences.
As the author, Chbosky held onto his story and vision until he felt right about its adaptation to film.
“When I first wrote the book, we had a big offer from the studios that (offered) five times more money than (what) I had to my name at the time and so I was tempted for a second because I was broke, but I’m really glad I held out,” Chbosky said.
The film stars Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller — all of whom connected with Chbosky on set.
“The characters are indistinguishable for me from the actors who play them,” Chbosky said.
To stay faithful to the novel and balance the screenplay’s adaptation, Chbosky chose to return to his hometown, Pittsburgh, and film the scenes in places he frequented and mentioned in the novel.
“I loved filming the Rocky Horror scenes in the theater where I first saw the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show,’” Chbosky said. “I loved being able to go to my street growing up and film the luminaria scene with Aunt Helen and little Charlie because that’s my street growing up.”
Chbosky sees this as a way to let Pittsburgh be captured on film, showcasing its uniqueness.
“I’m really excited for Pittsburgh,” he said. “I’ve seen so many movies set in Pittsburgh and none of them felt right to me. It drives me a little crazy, so this is kind of one for the hometown.”
Chbosky wrote the novel years after he left high school, but still felt connected to the experience and time in secondary education when he wrote the book.
“I was going through a tumultuous time. I was 26. It just seemed like narratively, freshman year of high school felt like I felt when I was 26.”
His control over the film is a triumph for the literary world and a testament to his true vision of the story.
“I think there are a lot of directors that I admire greatly that could have taken my script and made a beautiful movie out of it, but it wouldn’t have been the movie,” Chbosky said.
“They wouldn’t have really, deeply cared that the family would be eating chicken paprikash for dinner. Not that it really matters to anybody else, but it does to me and it does to this story.”