Warning: *mild spoilers*
There’s a point in The Fault in Our Stars book where Hazel and Gus go to Amsterdam and end up visiting the Anne Frank house. Well, when it came to filming this scene, the problem was that due to the sensitive items and subject matter regarding the Anne Frank house, cameras of any sort were not allowed.
But Josh Boone (and I’m sure everyone else involved) was determined, it seemed, to make this scene happen.
“We wrote so many letters. Phone calls were made. For us, there was no movie without it.”
Luckily, the keepers of the house-turned-museum just so happened to be fans of the book, and thus they gave the film crew 2 hours of access to the first floor as well as the outside entranceway.
This didn’t solve the issue of the other sections of the house that come into play, and so Josh had production designer Molly Hughes use most of the art direction budget to recreate those parts on sets in Pittsburgh, PA, where most of the movie was filmed.
Hughes and her team built three different studio sets in Pittsburgh, one for each floor. Hughes (who worked on multiple “Harry Potter” films) had never been to the house before, but she studied photographs that had been uploaded to Tumblr. She also hired a local architect to visit the house at 6 a.m. with a handheld camera, where he was allowed to film for a single hour. He retraced Hazel’s journey through the claustrophobic space where the Frank family hid from the Nazis for two years starting in 1940.
Based on that footage, Hughes meticulously went about designing the interior of the house, paying special attention to its light switches, exit signs, narrow staircases and wooden bookshelves.
They did change it up in the Frank house scene, and decided that Hazel and Gus have their moment take place in the Frank’s upstairs bedroom, which normally isn’t allowed to be entered by visitors.
“We talked about it at length and felt the attic was important, so we had her go into the attic,” Hughes says.
For me, I don’t think the location matters much, but the interaction of the two characters do.
I’ve seen the film, and I believe they did a splendid job of respecting the museum and the memory of the people behind it while still being faithful to the book.