Blue Like Jazz + Wild Goose Festival – Interview with Donald Miller

Blue Like Jazz + Wild Goose Festival – Interview with Donald Miller March 7, 2012

Wild Goose is pleased to continue to partner with Blue Like Jazz, The Movie.

Blue Like Jazz (The Movie) is a film adaptation of Donald Miller’s New York Times Best-Selling Book by the same name. Prior to its opening in theaters on April 13th, Don and the film’s director, Steve Taylor, are traveling the country to promote the movie and offer special previews of the film. [You can look for a screening in a city near you here.]

Below, you’ll find Wild Goose’s interview with Don where he recounts the story of the film’s production.  Or you can flip back to yesterday’s interview with Blue Like Jazz director Steve Taylor to get a different perspective on the same events.

Q: Take me back to the beginning of this film project. You’d released Blue Like Jazz, but it existed only as a book. And then this guy named Steve Taylor approaches you…

Don: Sure. Steve was wrapping up production on his first film when he approached me with the possibility of adapting Blue Like Jazz for film. At first, I didn’t understand how it could be a movie. I couldn’t see it on a screen.

The process challenged me because it involved fictionalizing to capture the thoughts behind the book. It took me a while to grasp how it could work as fiction. But once we dug in, the story almost started telling itself.

Q: But it wasn’t easy…

Don: No. We tried to raise the money to produce the film for maybe a year. Then, we hired this company to raise money for two years. And it just wouldn’t come through. Finally, after three years, I had to resolve it was time to say goodbye to the project. I wrote a blog post, mainly for Steve and the guys involved, formally releasing our ambitions. It seemed like the end.

Q: But clearly it didn’t end up being the end.

Don: No, not at all. People read the blog and started contacting me, saying “I could give some money.” Then two guys started a Kickstarter campaign to provide a formal way for people to invest in it. And it…rejuvenated the entire process. The movie went from literally being dead and buried  to us shooting on set within 45 days.

It only took 10 days for the Kickstarter campaign to reach it’s goal. And after that, it blew the goal away.

Q: That had to be a crazy moment. Clearly you knew you had readers because the book was selling and people come to hear you speak. But did you have any idea that people would actually be invested in telling the story with you?

Don: No. No idea. I started to realize it went beyond me then. That people were identifying the story with their own lives and what God was doing beyond me. I got the strong sense that I wasn’t some guy pointing at the clouds thinking he was controlling the weather. All I was doing was pointing at the clouds. And something bigger than me was going on. But it was still eye-opening and great to know the book touched people’s lives that deeply.

Q: And that brings us to today, when you’re talking to me on your cell from a bus between screenings in different cities.

Don: Yeah. We chose location based on where the movie will open in April. Then we emailed kickstarter backers to come to the screenings.We’re going to 30 cities and inviting our supporters to come and see the final cut.

We’re seeing 8 to 10 of our Kickstarter supporters come out each night and countless other supporters and partner organizations. It’s great. Throughout the process, there were moments when we were treating the project like a business transaction, but when we found our hearts again, and got really honest and vulnerable and said we needed help, people showed up. These showings are for them.

To see where Blue Like Jazz will be shown via the promotional tour, click here. In some locations, you may even see some Wild Goose staffers promoting the festival on site.



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