Thursday, June 18, 2009

Our First Road Trip

We hadn’t formed as a group for longer than a week, when we discovered a John Hughes Film Festival in Salisbury, Maryland. This would be the event that triggered our film to move from pre-production to full out production. We rented a camera (A Panasonic DVX100) from some friends (thank you Motel Pictures) and Fach, Kari and I hit the road. All we had discussed at this point was that we wanted the interviews to be filmed wherever we were able to grab them, and very “from the hip and raw” – meaning that we weren’t going to light it, or have a set list of questions – it was going to be a conversation that we’d have that we" just happened to have a camera around for."

We had no idea what would be in store for us when we got to Maryland, other than that we would be on campus grounds as the festival was a school event.  We had already pre-arranged an interview with a professor who taught film at the local University and our key contact was a student named Garfield. As we waited for the film festival to start (which was basically a screening of a few Hughes movies over a few days – with a pretty modest turn out at the University theatre) we spoke to a bunch of kids on campus.

More than a test shoot if anything, our first trip taught us a few things. One, when shooting handheld it was difficult for me to be the cameraman AND interviewer (so that torch was passed to Kari). Two, we would definitely need a mic other than the one built into the camera (just stupidity really). Three, that Kari needs a number of inconvenient pee breaks while on the road, that the actor named Jake didn’t work at that furniture store that we bombarded (and has vanished even more so than Hughes), that the hot dog at the 7-11 we stopped at had probably been there since the premiere of Breakfast Club, and that these films resonate quit deeply with kids who weren’t even born when they came out. 

This was a total new revelation and completely steered the doc in a new direction.

Below is an assemble, appalling sound and all, from our first trip ;  general opinions about the Hughes films and the state of teen film.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hughes Sighting!!!!

Elusive and reclusive director John Hughes, sitting in Wrigley's upper deck near the left-field foul pole. From, the first interview with Hughes since the wrap party for "Curly Sue":

"I grew up in the Detroit area, so I'm sort of happy right now," Hughes said at the end of the second period with the Red Wings up 4-3. "Gordie Howe was my hero growing up. We listened to games on the radio." After "Ferris Bueller" - "I used the number 9," said Hughes -- Howe sent the director an autographed jersey. "That was a big thrill," said Hughes, who nonetheless was a Blackhawks season ticket holder for years.

"We're going to re-up now," Hughes said. "It's amazing what Rocky Wirtz and his organization has done for the team. There is just so much affection for the Hawks that was pent up. I think that's why there was anger about the Hawks [dry stretch]. The team is beloved."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The team comes together

I had briefly met producer Kari Hollend a year or so prior to walking into her office.  Back then, at that first meeting, she wouldn't work with me. I wanted to make a film cast with a bunch of Canadian actors that had all won awards and blah blah blah , but nobody would recognize. Kari felt like she could get access to name talent and was only interested in making movies that people would actually want to watch:)

I knew I could whip up a documentary talking to the hordes of people that gush over what Hughes movies mean to them, but was faced with a pretty difficult challenge of how I'd get interviews with the stars of those films. Enter Kari Hollend.

When I walked into her office and pitched her the project she was visibly excited. But knowing that this would be a long undertaking, she hesitated, telling me that she would get back to me in a weeks time with an answer. I walked out of her office. She called me to tell me she was in before the next block.

Next came Lenny Panzer, a man who can recite every line of dialogue from every one of Hughes' films.

We had met earlier in the year to talk about writing our very own teen film. We knew that we wanted to make something as close to a Hughes film as possible and as far away from something like American Pie as we could...we got nowhere. This documentary, dissecting Hughes and his impact,  would be the perfect thing for us to forge together on.

Lastly came my uber creative best buddy Michael Facciolo. 

We had gone through a lot together (he crashed on my couch for a year) and we had promised each other that in the years to come we'd start our own production company together. We both would write. He would produce. I would direct. I already had some directing experience, but he was new to producing. I couldn't think of a better project to get his feet wet with and a better producer than Kari Hollend to work with. And besides, on a project where I would be on the road quite bit, why not have your best bud along for the ride.  Little did I know the hyginx that would insue (you'll read about them...).

And lastly there's me : 

I still regret wearing that pink shirt. John Hughes movies changed the way I looked at myself and the kind of films I wanted to make. I went into this project with a couple of short films, a very independent experimental feature film under my belt and experience shooting with the camera we would use. But zero experience making a doc. Oh, the lessons I would learn. 

So that's the team. We'd all be working together , through thick and thin, over the next 3+ years.

It had been about a day and a half before the four of us met in Kari's tiny office. Kari got on the phone to try and schedule our first interview. 

Within 30 minutes we had one with Ally Sheedy.


It all started with my wife (fiancé at the time)

I was sitting watching television with her. We had just sat glued to our set watching "Sixteen Candles" for the umpteenth time.  "Can you believe this is a 'teen movie' ?"  I asked. "Can you think of a pop teen flick from the last 15 years that can even hold a candle to this and the rest of the Hughes cannon ? Speaking of Hughes...where the f*%k is he ?"

Her response ?

"You should make a documentary about it."

If I had only known that that discussion would lead to an epic 4 year production which would see three out of the four team members get married, buy houses and have babies.

There would be plenty of distractions along the way, but we would always try to 'stay the course'. 

- Matt