After years of being stuck in development hell, the big-screen adaptation of Max Brooks‘ beloved novel World War Z is finally getting off the ground. As of this summer, the film has finally entered production with Marc Forster directing a cast led by Brad Pitt. Brooks recently took a trip to the set in Glasgow (standing in for Philadelphia), and had a few things to share about his experience there.

Brooks’ original novel is comprised of after-the-fact recollections of the catastrophic zombie war, as told to UN employee Gerry Lane. However, the film takes a different format, following Gerry (Pitt) as he races around the world working to stop the ongoing zombie pandemic. Read more about Brooks’ thoughts on the adaptation after the jump.

Brooks spoke with the Daily Record (via Latino Review) about his set visit, and the amazement he feels at seeing his creation come to life. Brooks’ novel was initially optioned years ago, but suffered several stops and starts during the development process. It wasn’t until the past year that the project finally began to come together. The film now has a targeted release date of December 21, 2012.

Here’s what Brooks had to say about watching the production process:

It’s incredible. Brad Pitt really conquered the city. I’ve never seen this much enthusiasm for a film and everyone is really excited to be working with all these people cheering and watching. I was on set watching a scene where Brad Pitt is running with his family, and a hundred extras running with him, and behind us was a crowd of about 500 people just watching. The assistant director said how great it would be if only we had the money to hire all the people in behind us. I also had lunch with the zombies and they’re great. They look very much like what my impression would be of new zombies who had not really begun to rot, kind of like phase one zombies. They have a zombie school, where they are teaching extras how to act like zombies, and from talking to people on set they have really put a lot of research into everything.

Here’s Brooks reacting to the fact that the film exists at all:

It was incredible to see it for myself and I’m still amazed they are making a movie of the book. I heard Brad Pitt had optioned the rights and I thought, ‘That’s cool’ but it probably wouldn’t ever get made because most optioned projects never do, so it was the biggest shock in the world to me when my wife showed me pictures on her computer of Brad Pitt in Malta filming World War Z. I’m still waiting to wake up from this one.

There’s no reason anybody should have optioned this for a movie, it does everything wrong… It doesn’t have a main character, the storyline is told from a hundred different points of view, it would be prohibitively expensive filming in all these different countries. You couldn’t pay me to turn it into a film. All I know is they have their work cut out for them. It is the equivalent of climbing Ben Nevis on your knees. I’m not involved so I just want to be able to enjoy watching the movie when it comes out. At least I know they did at least as much research into things as I did for the book. Brad loves Glasgow and he told me how great it was to make a film in a place that is not used to it.

Though some fans expressed their disappointment at the big differences between the film’s plot and the original source material, it sounds like Brooks has given the film his blessing. As Brooks himself said, the novel’s format makes it prohibitively difficult to adapt into a feature film. It seems understandable that Forster would want to change the structure into something more traditional and therefore easier to film. (You could argue, as some have, that the book would’ve been better served as a TV series, but that’s a whole other debate.)

And now, some photos:

[No photo]

Head over to the Metro site to see many more images from the set.

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