Even as the updates came in - like the screenplay being written or more budget getting allotted - Aislinn Hunter still didn't believe the film adaptation of her novel Stay was happening, until she was told a co-production deal had been reached with the Irish Film Board.
Hunter has taught creative writing for the last 10 years at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, and she has known for the last nine years that rights to her book were optioned to be made into a film. But she said less than two per cent of books that are optioned actually get made into films, so she had that moment earlier this year when she realized, "this is not pretend anymore, this is really happening."
It was an amazing experience on set in Ireland, she said.
"There was so much respect for the writer of the book," Hunter recalled with an appreciative laugh. "The central cast members had read the book and were very generous and complimentary."
The script was shown to Hunter a week before filming began, and she flew herself onto the Irish set, where she observed her written fiction transform into a visual world unto itself. She also took part as an extra during filming of pub scenes.
The plot of the novel surrounds Abbey, a Canadian girl living in Ireland who returns home when she finds out she is pregnant, and the father has no wish to help out. Although Hunter did live in Ireland for three years when she was young, she only took parts of her experience, like describing restaurants, pubs and the beautiful landscape. The rest of Abbey's world came out of her imagination; the story is not based on her own life.
The author also points out the director and writers changed several parts of the novel in order to best adapt the story for the big screen.
"In my head it's kind of concrete, but when I stepped onto the set, instead of 100 things in my mind, on the set its thousands of things because it's the real world and it shows things more beautifully than a book can do," Hunter said, visualizing a scene of a cottage in the Irish countryside. "It fills every nook and cranny with amazing set designs."
Hunter said she is thrilled that as a writing instructor at Kwantlen, she can share the experience with her students and help to motivate their creativity.
The film's genre is being classified as a "CanadianIrish indie drama," and stars actors Aidan Quinn and Taylor Schilling, who played "Beth" opposite Zac Efron in this past spring's release of The Lucky One.
Roundstone, Ireland, hosted the overseas filming, and the Canadian portion is just wrapping up in Montreal. Stay is expected to premiere in late 2013 or early 2014.