“Fun.” Director Paul Jarrett didn’t hesitate for a second when asked the one word that best summed up his experience on the set of his feature film debut Fan Girl, this year’s Free Member Screening during the Los Angeles Film Festival. “I got together a lot of crew I had worked with over the last ten years to work, and the cast had a really good time, some of them had gone to high school together… it was just a fun atmosphere.”
Kiernan (Sally Draper) Shipka stars as Telulah Farrow, a 15-year-old post-Millennial teen who lives for making movies and idolizing her favorite band (the real life pop punk band All Time Low, who is featured in the soundtrack and appears in the film). Meg Ryan plays Telulah’s behind-the-tech-times mom.
Here’s what Jarrett told us about the making of Fan Girl—and why it’s so fun.
On casting Shipka in her first post-Mad Men role:
“We all loved Mad Men, we thought she was so perfect for it, but we didn’t know if she was available. We asked no-one else. We only went out to her. Luckily she really responded to the great script. We got to meet on Skype and I said, ‘What do you love about it?’ And she said, ‘It’s so real because kids are always on their phones. It’s what we are like right now.’”
On how Meg Ryan took a funny scene and made it funnier:
“You go into it thinking ‘America’s sweetheart,’ and not recognizing that she’s such a comedic actor and such a great physical comedic actor. So not only were there simple things like head bumping against something or very small, discreet moments, but it was also getting comfortable with changing the blocking and finding funnier ways to do stuff mid-takes, and we realized that if we were both open to it, together, we’d find funnier new things to do. Her physical comedy always surprised me and astounded my every time—and makes the movie so much better.”
On what he learned as a first-time director that he wishes they’d teach in film school:
“My DP, Brian Burgoyne, taught me that when shot listing there are only three shots that matter: the one that gets you into a scene, the one that gets you out of the scene, and the one that sums up what the scene is about.”
On being inspired by fashion blog phenom Tavi Gevinson’s take on the concept of “fan girls:”
“During a keynote speech Gevinson gave, Tavi discussed ‘fan girling.’ What I took away from what she said was there’s a form of creative art where you are so devoted to someone else’s art that you express your own creativity through that devotion. And that’s being a fan. I’d never thought about being a fan being a creative expression. That made me inspired. Whatever generation that is, 1992 or 2014, that’s true, and somehow technology has made it even more obvious. And that made me excited.”
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