Marking the tenth page to screen adaptation of Nicholas Spark’s work, The Longest Ride is a relatable love story that will appeal to audiences beyond his fan base.
The romance centers around Luke (Scott Eastwood), a dashing professional bull rider, and Sophia (Britt Robertson), a college senior set on pursuing a career in the art world. As the two develop a relationship, they find it difficult to connect their vastly different paths.
Some of the best scenes in the film occur in the bull riding arena. The sport requires riders to buck their bull for eight seconds. The film captures both the rush and fear Luke experiences within that time.
As Sparks, who served as the film’s producer, explains - these scenes were a challenge to execute.
“Unlike most Hollywood films, these are not tame animals. These are not trained animals. You don’t know where they’re going to go when they come out of the shoot, so where do you place the cameras when you’re hoping to get the shots you need?”
For Sparks, bringing the characters to life meant undertaking extensive art history research. Not only is it Sophia’s passion, it also plays a crucial role in the film’s secondary storyline in which an elderly man (Alan Alda) recounts his marriage to a passionate art collector (Oona Chaplin).
In studying the art scene in North Carolina (where the film is set) the author discovered that Black Mountain College played a major role in the shaping several notable artists.
Of writing the school into the story, Sparks said:
“Black Mountain College is just this extraordinary place… It was really the place in which the American Modern Art movement grew and it expanded.”
Since starting Nicholas Sparks Productions in 2012, the writer has been working on original shows and films - including Deliverance Creek and the upcoming NBC series The Watchers.
So why are more and more authors like Stephenie Meyer and Gillian Flynn carving out brands that go beyond their books?
“I certainly can’t speak for any other author but for me it’s a chance to tell stories that I might not tell in novel form. All my stories are love stories that take place in North Carolina but what if I wanted to do a Western or something set back in the 1920’s or something set in space?”
The Longest Ride is in theaters April 10, 2015.