The Fault in Our Stars in Amsterdam
Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort)
On proving to the producers that he had the vision ...
"Boone prepped for weeks, using a technique he'd mastered when pitching his own scripts. At his audition, he brought photographs of young people shot with natural light, music queued to specific scenes (The indie rock band Bright Eyes, who scored "Stuck," was on the list and is signed for "Fault.") and a shot-by-shot description for the opening 20 minutes.
Bright Eyes set to score The Fault in our Stars
"When we hired him, we thought of him as a young Cameron Crowe," Godfrey (Wyck Godfrey, one of the movie's producers) said. "He's someone with a clear vision, open to input. He takes everything in and then moves forward."
"On touchdown, it was a maddening race to accomplish everything, Boone recalled. Sleep was a luxury. He and Richardson went straight out to scout locations, navigating the cold and rain and thousands of bicyclists coming from every direction.
"Everywhere you look and everywhere you turn there are bicycles - people riding all over the place," Boone said.
The stormy weather provided only short windows in which to shoot. Richardson used a handheld camera, which afforded Boone the most flexibility.
Amsterdam was mostly "seat-of-your-pants filmmaking," he said. "If we saw something interesting, we shot it."
A magical moment was improvised at the dazzling Rijksmuseum. Boone happened across a "cool, classical street band" and got the producers to "lock them down" for the movie. Hazel and Gus walk through a tunnel beneath the museum, discover the band and stop to listen as they play Ravel.
On the final day, Boone and the group headed along the narrow Prinsengracht canal to a three-story brick building, No. 263. It was their final destination, where 13-year-old Anne Frank wrote her diary - putting down her hopes, frustrations and longing for freedom - while she and her family hid from the Nazis during World War II.
"I knew one of the most important scenes would be at the Anne Frank House," Boone said.
The production waited for months for permission to bring cameras inside the museum. Visitors cannot take photographs; director George Stevens didn't even shoot there for his Oscar-nominated classic, "The Diary of Anne Frank." But a week before leaving the Netherlands, Boone got the green light.
"We went with the belief that this would work out," he said.
They were admitted at 9 p.m., closing time. Once inside, they had two hours.
The secret annex, the area behind the movable bookcase where the Franks lived for two years, was off-limits. So was the attic where Anne could see the chestnut tree outside. Those scenes were filmed in Pittsburgh on a replica set built to scale and authentically dressed to the smallest detail.
Because of the time constraint, each shot at the Amsterdam museum had to be technically correct; the actors had to say their lines flawlessly and hit their marks. A second take was a luxury.
"It was incredible," Boone said. "We're in this big, empty white room with four very large photographs of Anne Frank on the wall.... Nobody has been allowed to shoot there before. Everyone knew how big of a deal that was."
Stephen King with Josh Boone
Boone is currently juggling the post production stage alongside editor Robb Sullivan while prepping his upcoming adaptation of Stephen King's Lisey's Story; see my Lisey's Story post here.
The Fault in Our Stars is scheduled for release June 6, 2014. In addition to Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort as Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus (Gus) Waters, the cast includes Nat Woolf as Gus' buddy Isaac, Laura Dern and Sam Trammel as Hazel's parents, Mike Birbiglia - one of my favorite comedians - as Patrick and Willem Dafoe as Peter Van Houten.
I'll be filing this post in the TFIOS file along with all my TFIOS posts; I hope you'll check it.