The moment I heard Jerusha Hess, of the Napoleon Dynamite fame, and Stephanie Meyer, who wrote a little book called Twilight, were joining forces to make a movie I was intrigued. I loved Jerusha’s personal style and querky wit and, although I wasn’t a huge fan of Twilight, I really enjoyed Meyer’s latest book The Host.
Last week, I was lucky enough to see, Austenland the love child of Napoleon and Bella, at the Sundance Film Festival, and interview the screenwriters, Jeresha Hess and Shannon Hale. Even more than seeing this interesting pairing, I was excited to see successful and strong women coming together to create something.
Shannon Hale is actually the conduit for this meeting of the creative minds. She is a writer of successful young adult novels, such as Princess Academy and The Goose Girl. Hale is friends with both Meyers and Hess, and introduced them. That might be why she describes the british set of Austenland as “a bunch of friends getting together and having fun.”
Hess does seems like the type of director who would be easy-going, laid back, and probably a little self-depricating. After co-writing Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre and Gentlemen Broncos, but having her husband, Jared Hess have all the fun directing, She enjoyed being the boss. “Every once in awhile, I would picture a scene a certain way when I wrote it but Jared would see it another way. Everyone has the things that they think are funny. [With Austenland] I was able to delegate and make the final choices.” Whatever her approach, she captured the effortless charm of Keri Russell and the brazen wit of Jennifer Coolidge in Austenland. Of Coolidge, Hess admitted, “she didn’t keep to the script, we just kept the camera rolling. We captured so many funny moments that had to be cut out of the final version.”
It was such a pleasure meeting these film makers and seeing their romantic/comedy, Austenland.
Austenland was purchased at Sundance by Sony. As soon as there is a release date we will let you know! Until then, take a look at this clip below.