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The Perks of Being Wallflower: Interview with author, screenwriter and director Stephen Chbosky

By Erin Cotter


Photo courtesy of Summit Entertainment

The Collegian sat down with Stephen Chbosky, author, director and screenwriter of the new movie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Chbosky’s most notable work includes  the musical-turned-movie known as Rent and his television series Jericho.

Chbosky’s latest project is film adaption of his 1999 novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Chbosky’s book has been published in 14 countries and in 12 different languages.


Q: When did you start working on the screenplay and realize that the book would become a movie?

I started working on the screenplay probably a few years ago. I always wanted it to be a movie so there wasn’t a moment that I thought it wouldn’t be a great movie, it was more like always my dream to make it a film as well.


Q: What was the process of turning your novel into a screenplay?

Well you know how it works, its tricky, because the novel is 250 pages long, and if you wrote a 250 page screenplay they would want to commit you, because it would be a monstrously long movie. So the process is trying to find the essence of every character and every storyline and boiling it down to just the smallest, smallest bite.


Q: When you work on a project like this do you work on other things as well or is this the center of your attention?

It is the absolute center. We got the green-light in February 2011 and it has been my full time job, basically ever since. It takes over your life practically. If it weren’t for the fact that I adore my wife and I love our baby, I would be all consumed.


Q: Do you have a creative window?

I do. When I write I like mornings … As long as I can get something written before 1:00 p.m., before lunch time, I’m really happy, and if I don’t I always feel like I goofed that day.


Q: When you are writing teen-friendly movies, do you have a soft spot for the teenage years?

Yes, it’s such a dramatic time and a beautiful time, but it’s also so complicated … In those years, comes all this art and entertainment thrown at you … some of it is really good and some of it cares, but some of it just wants your dollars. And there is so little entertainment or art that takes young people very seriously so I thought there was a real absence of this kind of story out there.


Q: Are there any direct reflections of you in the movie?

Yeah, some. You know, I don’t like to go into detail about what actually happened in my life and what didn’t happen in my life and I will tell you why: I see this movie as a great baton that I’m passing. I know this for a fact, because I’ve gotten letters that there is a kid out there in Atlanta, or somewhere, that is going through a really tough time.


Q: What was the hardest part about directing the film?

It wasn’t directing, it was the writing … the book is all through Charlie’s lens and so I had to take the same characters, the same catharsis, the same emotions and the same intimacy and find a way to look at it the other way. That was really tricky.

About Victoria Song

Business Major at GPC, Dunwoody.

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