In a Deseret News article, AUSTENLAND author/screenwriter Shannon Hale and director/screenwriter Jerusha Hess reveal how the film adaptation for this book was actually the unintended result of a lunch they had together.
“I happened to have a copy of ‘Austenland’ in my car, which is really weird because I never carry my books around,” Hale said. “But I wanted to give her something because she paid for lunch, and so I thought, ‘Oh well hey, here is this book.’ It never crossed my mind that she was going to want to make it into a movie because it wasn’t like anything she had done before.”
Hess returned to her home and read the entire novel overnight and eventually called Hale expressing her desire to make the book into a movie.
They began writing the screenplay together. The two worked together off and on for a couple of years.
“We would just sit in a room and pitch lines at each other, and if it made the other person laugh, we would write it down,” Hale said. “Working with a veteran screenwriter was so educating for me. We had a blast.”
The film has been hugely embraced by Sundance Festival goers, selling out each of its scheduled screenings. Jerusha credits this initial success in part to the movie not being the typical Sundance submission.
“I think it was just like the anti-Sundance movie,” Hess said. “It just felt like after so many dark or serious or life-altering movies they just wanted to see something fun and light — and that’s exactly what ‘Austenland’ is.”
Whatever the reason for Austenland’s embrace at the Festival, this clean, family-friendly, feel-good movie is sure to be the one that warms and wins the hearts of it’s viewers through their week of cold Utah temperatures and intense dramas or documentaries that come standard with attending Sundance.