Letter From LA
Producer Jordan Horowitz explains how The Kids Are All Right became the summer'ssurprise sleeper hit
Editor's Note: Former Houstonian and High School for the Performing and Visual Arts grad Ellie Knaus is now an actress and writer in Los Angeles. She will file periodic reports about the entertainment industry and life in LA for CultureMap. This is her first column.
Amid all the special effects summer movies, a little independent film, The Kids Are All Right , racked up the highest per-screen average gross this year and will likely be on Oscar's short list. Jordan Horowitz, V.P. of Production & Development at Gilbert Films, produced the movie, which stars Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo, and also Meet Monica Velour, starring Kim Cattrall.
Horwitz talks to CultureMap about how the film, now showing at River Oaks Theatre, got made and why it's been a surprise hit. (The Los Angeles Times noted that The Kids Are All Right produced the highest opening box office weekend of an indie movie this year — averaging a $72,127 gross for the seven theaters it opened at in the U.S. and Canada, the highest per-screen average of any movie in 2010).
CultureMap: Director Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg spent five years working on the script for The Kids Are All Right. How long did you all have to actually shoot the film?
Jordan Horowitz: We shot the film in ... wait for it ... 23 days. The cast and crew on this picture were just OUTSTANDING. I've never seen folks move so fast.
CM: The acting ensemble in the film is transcendent; the relationships are spot on. What was the casting process like?
JH: Julianne had been attached to the film for about five years. Annette for less time, but she'd been with the project for a bit. Mark was attached, then not attached, and ultimately Julianne called — or texted ... I can’t remember — Mark's wife and told him that he had to do the film. So he did it. Thank God for wives!
CM: Did the story change at all over the process of filming and editing?
JH: Change? Not really. It just kept getting tighter and tighter and better and better. One of the consequences of having only 23 days to shoot the film was that Lisa and Stuart had to cut just about everything that wasn't essential to the story. So a lot of the stuff that may have otherwise ended up on the cutting room floor was removed from the film before we ever even shot a frame.
CM: My little brother just graduated from Episcopal High School and he's off to New York in the fall. What do you think this film says about growing up and flying the nest?
JH: It's hard on everyone — kids and parents alike. But ultimately, you'll be OK. Everyone — and everything — will be OK.
CM: How do you think Twitter, blogs, and online sites have influenced the success of this film?
JH: Certainly they have helped the buzz grow to almost deafening levels, but the real effect still remains to be seen. I know I personally use things like Twitter to track audience response to the film and to do some promotion — of this film and other things in my life — of my own. I can be found on Twitter at @jehorowitz, but I think the real test will come as the film continues to expand into markets that aren't New York/LA/Chicago.
As I said, so far the buzz on Twitter and Facebook and blogs and the like has been extraordinary, so I can only cross my fingers and hope that it will translate into success for the film. I think it will ... but you never know till it happens, right?
CM: The film is a critic's darling, but not without controversy. What is your response to critics like Andrea Peyser of the New York Post, who accuses the film of “gay proselytizing”?
JH: I don't even want to dignify her with a response. People see what they want to see.
CM: Agreed. The soundtrack feels integral to the film. What is your favorite song in the soundtrack and how did it influence the scene in which it played?
JH: It's absolutely essential to the film — Lisa was talking about the music in the film from the first day I met her. Personally, I love the David Bowie "Black Country Rock" cue — it’s the track that hits as Mark is driving up to the house on his motorcycle right after the moms say they want to meet him. It's really masculine and sexy and just a bit dangerous and captures the tone of his character perfectly.
I also love when Annette sings "All I Want" but, I mean, who doesn't? It's one of the best scenes I've had the pleasure of seeing — both while it was being shot and in the final cut in the film — in quite some time.
Follow Ellie Knaus' blog at myprincipality.com. Her comic sketches can be found at ellieknaus.com