"Let me put this another way," Steve said. "While you've written a good book, thoughts don't translate onto the screen very well. The audience can't get inside your head like they can in a book. They will be restless. They won't engage. Trying to be true to the book is like asking people to read your mind. A story has to move in real life and real time. It's all about action."
"You think they might be bored if we just show my life the way it is," I clarified. I guess I was asking for reassurance that my life was okay. "I think they'd stab each other in the necks with drinking straws," Steve said.
On Sept. 16, 2010, Donald Miller announced on his blog that, after a year trying unsuccessfully to raise money for the movie adaptation of his bestselling book, Blue Like Jazz, he and the film's co-creators, director Steve Taylor and cinematographer Ben Pearson, were putting the project on hold for the foreseeable future.
"The book that swept the country will not sweep theaters," Miller wrote. What happened next is a reminder that there is probably no such thing as a foreseeable future.
A great story is centered around a character who wants something, and overcomes conflict to get it. A general rule in creating stories is that characters don't want to change. They must be forced to change. Nobody wakes up and starts chasing a bad guy or dismantling a bomb unless something forces them to do so.
Bringing characters to life takes an incredible amount of talent. In order to set Blue Like Jazz out among the rest, it took a specific - almost in a 'we were born for this' type of way - group of actors.
It wasn't a Walt Disney production by any means, but the energy sure felt like it those first few days on set. Not in budgetary terms of course, but it was like everyone had just rode in to set on a cloud, and a movie was going to make itself right before our eyes - and we had the VIP privilege of being part of it. Crew members that had never heard of Don or his book were now sitting in the corner flipping through pages during any downtime that came, wondering what all this history-making buzz was about.
Reality, of course, is that making a movie is extremely hard work - especially when you don't have a Walt Disney kind of budget.
'Blue Like Jazz's vision, while clearly more ordered and accessible than the Reed reality, seemed to be aimed at communicating Renn Fayre's ultimate truth – that of unbridled joy, celebration, and, well, glitter. Beyond Renn Fayre, the cast and crew seemed dedicated to portraying Reed as a challenging, colorful, and intellectual environment.'
It's been said that the movie business is unique because it combines all the arts into one. Music within a film will build tension, create emotion, and is paramount to the viewer connecting with story. Danny Seim, of Menomena fame, was the first and only choice to create the score to drive Blue Like Jazz. His style and personality fits indie music, Portland, and Blue Like Jazz so perfectly.
I made it clear to all our potential investors and/or heads of media companies, the vast majority of whom were fellow Christians, that this was not going to be a family movie. The reason was simple: How do you tell the story of a college kid who flees his Southern Baptist upbringing in suburban Houston to attend the 'most godless campus in America' without showing what that environment is like? And how can that environment be portrayed realistically in the context of a 'family' movie? Doesn't have to be rated R, but it's probably going to be PG-13, right?
- Director Steve Taylor