SFF HOT LIST - FILMS YOU MUST NOT MISS: Exclusive Interview with IN OUR NATURE director BRIAN SAVELSON!
RED ALERT! RED ALERT! Film star JENA MALONE will be here for screenings of this movie. Don't miss your chance to see her join director Brian Savelson for our always amazing after-screening Q&As! It's RDW (Run Don't Walk) time to get thee hither to our box office inside the Regal Cinemas Hollywood 20 on Main Street or to get your fingers flying on your keyboard to CLICK HERE AND BUY TICKETS ONLINE! IN OUR NATURE also stars John Slattery from MAD MEN and Gabrielle Union! I've seen this film and I can tell you, if you're a fan of warm, wonderful and insightful films about family and love, THIS is your movie. If you grabbed a ticket for Lawrence Kasdan's DARLING COMPANION on Wednesday the 18th then you'll want to make your SFF experience complete by seeing this one either Friday the 20th at 8:00 PM (date night, dinner and a movie, go to the Half Shell Oyster House just a few doors down then come meet a movie star on a very contented tum, perfect!) or Saturday the 21st at 1:45 PM (get a nice lunch at the Half Shell and come on by — sounds like a plan to me!)
THE INSIDER: Brian, the film feels very personal, very real. Was it based on actual events? Tell me what inspired this story.
BRIAN SAVELSON: Well that's funny that you ask that. Every time I try to explain this, I just seem to dig the hole deeper. I'm glad that it feels personal because I wanted for these characters to feel very real and familiar. What I set out to do was take the 'two couples go up to a cabin' setup — which we all feel we've seen before — and surprise the audience with how much is in there that we haven't seen, carving out nuances to raise personal questions for each viewer. Fortunately, it's not about me at all. Of course, all writing draws on experience, so it's impossible to divorce oneself from the characters entirely, but the people, relationships and circumstances in the story are all figments of my imagination.
The funny part is that the cast and crew also mentioned it seemed personal, and they would tease me by calling me by the character's name. There's a pivotal moment in the film where it's revealed the father is selling the house. And my father did recently sell the house I grew up in -- but that was after I wrote the script and was already deep into the project. When everyone on set found out about this, they couldn't get enough of it — ceaseless jokes. And the more I protested that it was only a coincidence which happened after, well, the more fuel I threw on the fire of constant mockery.
THE INSIDER: How did you put together this wonderful cast?
BRIAN SAVELSON: It took me a while to realize that a whole slew of films I really liked — by different directors -- were being produced by the same guy. I was really impressed with how producer Anish Savjani was able to make all these films and get them out into the world. At that point, I'd directed some music videos and shorts, and I reached out to Anish with my script. I figured he lived in LA, but it turned out we lived just blocks away from each other in Brooklyn. So we met up, and before long we just started working on it.
The cast did not live around the corner in Brooklyn. But they're so ridiculously talented we were willing to let that slide. Honestly, anyone would be lucky to have the opportunity to direct these guys, let alone a first-timer such as myself. With a project like this, the most important thing is the characters. It all revolves around them. It was important to me that we instantly recognize these characters, but that they not feel flat or re-used. So casting hugely dynamic performers was essential. Watching the film now, the actors all seem to be the characters. But if you stop and think about it, you'll be hard pressed to find an example of when these actors played parts like these before.
Casting roles for a film like this will always come down to the material. And that's not to say this is the best script ever written, but rather that it's about matching the right performer with the right part -- something they will really respond to, probably because they haven't had a chance to play it yet. There's always going to be some hesitation with a first time director, but when I met with each of them, and we could sense this shared enthusiasm, I think that's the most important thing — that you're really excited about the same ideas.
THE INSIDER: Did you face any obstacles getting the film made?
BRIAN SAVELSON: I think when you set out to make a film, the one thing you're guaranteed is obstacles.
There was a particular scene we needed to shoot outdoors overnight, and every time we were able to schedule it, a crazy summer storm would unleash a torrent of rain. Because of how you have to schedule overnight shoots, we eventually had to push that scene to the last night of the production. And it wasn't like there was a backup plan — the actors all had other commitments. So we would either get that scene the last night or not at all. Last summer in the northeast was a wet one. It was terrifying as we approached that last evening. We were all sure it was going to rain us out again. But in the end, Mother Nature took pity on us and let us have our clear starry night.
The truth is that the main obstacle course is long before you get to the shoot. "It's too risky, you're a first time director." "Nobody wants to see dramas right now." "The shooting schedule isn't long enough." "The shooting schedule is too long." "The budget is too big." "The budget is too small."
Pulling together your first film is a lot like pulling off a successful magic trick. You need to assemble a whole lot of different people, get them really excited for what's about to happen, and then draw their attention to one of your hands -- and keep them staring intently at that one hand, while your other hand races to set up the outcome.
THE INSIDER: What were some of favorite moments from the production? Do you have any fun stories re: your cast members?
BRIAN SAVELSON: Here's a quick story that Floridians might appreciate. It's fairly common to have visitors on set. We were filming way out in the middle of nowhere, so if friends or family of the cast wanted to see them, they had to make the trek into the wilderness. It was just after the NBA Finals, and Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat came up to visit Gabrielle. Our crew was young, but they'd been around celebrities on sets many times before. Somehow though, this was different. This wasn't just some famous actor — this was D-Wade! The whole set turned into a bunch of kids, taking pictures with him, getting his autograph — there was no way to keep their focus.
Because we were often using all hands on deck, there were times when having an extra person around could come in really handy. That day, there were a few things the cast needed, and all our PAs were busy or were already running errands. So Gabrielle sent D out to get a few things for them. The funniest part was not that D-Wade was suddenly a production assistant, but what happened when he returned from his assignment. I guess he mixed up a few things -- it was hilarious. Dwyane Wade getting reprimanded for picking up the wrong things at the store!
THE INSIDER: What would you like audiences to take from your movie?
BRIAN SAVELSON: My hope was to create an experience that is so familiar, so relatable, that the audience barely notices the twists and turns, only fully realizing what they went through after it's over.
Often in film, the depiction of how lives find direction happens in a single defining, heroic, moment. But it rarely goes like this for me... More often, I think, we're totally unaware that a seemingly ordinary conversation has just charted our path, or that a little white lie we told out of insecurity will ultimately pull down the relationship we were trying to protect. This film is a collection of these moments that feel so familiar and yet go on to have resounding consequences.
So I think, more than anything, I would want audiences to connect very personally with these characters, and maybe walk away with questions they haven't asked themselves before.
THE INSIDER: Please feel free to tell us anything else you'd like to chat about including upcoming projects.
BRIAN SAVELSON: My background is in theater, and while pulling this film together, people would ask from time to time, why not just do this as a play? And while I admit it shares many similarities with theater — just four characters, basically one location, lots of talking — what interested me most about doing a film like this was taking it out of a theatrical place. I wanted to focus on those infinitesimally small moments that get lost on stage. A wince of humiliation, or a flash of anger, that gets instantaneously wiped from the face. Many of my favorite moments are in between the words, and it's those kind of details that can only be captured on film.
Now, having spent a lot of time working on character and dialogue, I'm really looking forward to a story that will move around a bit more. I'm writing a new film that's considerably larger. I think I'll always be obsessed with the intricacies and nuances of characters and relationships, but I'm excited to have the next story play out on a wider canvas.
Wanted by motion picture executives for revealing industry secrets to a public with the Right to Know, "The Insider" has spent over 15 years working behind the scenes in almost every aspect of "The Biz" developing a secret network of contacts, spies, moles, and highly trained counter-intelligence operatives and movie ninjas whose only goal is to inform and entertain you-and help you make this the best year of the Sarasota Film Festival ever!