WOODSTOCK – Local author Jason Wright’s novel, “Christmas Jars,” is getting the film treatment.
The film follows Hope – played by actress Jeni Ross – an eager and talented young newspaper reporter who finds a jar full of money at her door and is determined to find out who is behind the act.
Wright, a Woodstock resident, said that the idea behind the book came from a real-life experience.
“The year before the book came out, my family and I filled a jar with change and gave it to a family anonymously,” he said. “I had such a good experience with it that I took that kernel of a story and fictionalized it for the novel.”
The novel was released in October 2005 and went on to become a New York Times bestseller.
“It sold really well its first year, but nobody really knew what it was,” Wright said. “It took two years of momentum for it to get on the list.”
Wright said that discussions about doing a film based on “Christmas Jars” began a couple of months after the book came out.
“I got an email from someone I had known many years ago, who said they loved the book and was getting into the film-making business and said let’s get together and try to develop this,” he said.
Wright said that it took 13 years to get “Christmas Jars” into production.
“We’ve been so close so many times, and there’s always been some last-minute something like the finances fell through or the script wasn’t quite right and it didn’t happen,” he said. “Our team then added a few more people that took the lead and were finally able to help make the project happen.”
The “Christmas Jars” adaptation was picked up last year by Muse Entertainment, a film production company in Canada that has produced several TV series and films. While he didn’t have much to do with the actual film-making process, Wright said that his relationship with Muse Entertainment has been strong throughout production.
“They’ve been very kind to let me review the script and to come up to visit the set,” he said. “This studio has been phenomenal to deal with. These are really good people trying to make a movie with a message. They treat people, including me, kindly and warmly.”
Wright said that the environment during his visits to the set in Ottawa was equally as welcoming.
“One of the greatest things my family learned on set was that everything we learn on TMZ was just wrong,” he said. “These are really kind people. There was no profanity or drinking on set. These are really great people who are doing what they love.”
Wright said it was a humbling experience to see his work come to life.
“At some points, my family and I were fighting back emotions of seeing this play out after 13 years,” he said. “I have never had a more humbling experience in my life than to see the actors reading the lines verbatim from the novel – was pretty incredible.”
Wright said that fans of the book may notice some changes from the book, including some elements that were pulled from the 2009 sequel, “Christmas Jars Reunion.”
“Some people may be surprised about what we added, but they work really well in the film,” he said.
Wright said that shooting on the film will end sometime toward the end of March and will air on TV this fall. While he wasn’t exactly sure when “Christmas Jars” will hit the airwaves, Wright said he is working on getting local screenings of the film scheduled.
“We’re doing everything we can to get a local theatrical screening,” he said. “It’s just a matter of the studio permitting it.”
Wright said that if “Christmas Jars” is successful, film adaptations on “Christmas Jars Reunion,” and another one of Wright’s books, “The Wednesday Letters,” may go into production.
“The hope is that this film coming out this fall will kind of light a fire under some of these projects that have been simmering for years,” he said.
Wright said he was grateful for all of the support the project has amassed over the years.
“We’ve announced “we’re almost there” for so long and I’m just grateful that people have stuck it out,” he said. “The support on social media has been phenomenal. I’m glad people didn’t give up on us getting this done. I think they’re going to be well rewarded.”