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Ever seen a movie and thought, “I liked the book much better!” Some books are meant to just be books. Some books weren’t even intended to become books in the first place, which is, perhaps why we think William Paul Young’s novel, The Shack (Windblown Media, 2007—buy), has adapted perfectly into big screen theatrics.

So, on March 3, 2017, movie giant Lionsgate will debut The Shack in theaters, of which producers Gil and Lani Netter (Life Of Pi, The Blind Side) and English director Stuart Hazeldine (Exam, Christian) have worked meticulously to paint this transcendent story with beautiful pictures. In anticipation of this event, we sit down with the heart and mind behind it all, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Young.

CCM Magazine: At the onset of getting the book written and published, which, understandably wasn’t even in the picture from the very beginning, could you have foreseen this blossoming into a full-on feature film?
William Paul Young: That’s like asking a single monk if he ever imagined having grandchildren [laughs]. It wasn’t even on the radar, you know? So, no, it was not an imagination, it was not an expectation, there was nothing that prepared any of us for this happening. For example, to be on the [filming] set was an incredibly surreal experience. You know, you write a little story for your kids for Christmas and you make fifteen copies at Office Depot that do everything you ever wanted that book to do, and then this happens. It’s like, “Are you serious? How cool is this?”

CCM: We thought the movie did a masterful job of painting such beautiful, lasting pictures with your words. Seeing the movie years after reading the book, it seemed like the imagery that we didn’t know was still in our minds instantly connected with what we were seeing on-screen…
WPY:
That’s cool…

CCM: …as you were on-set at the filming and watching all of it unfold, did you have a similar experience?
WPY:
Yes. I think the best way I can put it is this; those who loved The Shack will not be disappointed by the movie. It is a very faithful adaptation. From the very beginning, Gil and Lani Netter, Stuart Hazeldine, and Lionsgate worked really hard on keeping the sense of the movie—the faithfulness to the impact of it—and the heart of it. I think they did a remarkable job.

To watch it, it’s what was inside my head and heart. There’s lots of detail-stuff that’s different, but that’s not the point. I mean, little details, not anything that would matter. But, to understand that the movement from a book to a film is a huge step in terms of the collaborative nature of movies and for them to succeed to the degree they have is, to me, an amazing accomplishment. I loved the movie. I’ve seen it now three times, and I think I’ve cried every time. It just gets me. And that’s the impact of the book, so I’m thrilled to have participated.

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  • Jo Tell

    I have not read the book, nor will I, and I most certainly will not watch a movie based on this man’s imagination. Hank Hannegraff summed it up perfectly.