Coming off special jury awards for acting at this year’s Sundance Film Festival and Newfest, Adriana Maggs’s first feature “Grown Up Movie Star,” arrives at Outfest with surging buzz. Says Outfest, “Teenager Ruby dreams of following her mother to Hollywood where they will be big stars, but she’s stuck in a small Canadian town with her annoying little sister, her irresponsible father and his sexually aggressive best friend. As she awakens to her power over the opposite sex, her father – a former NHL star – struggles with his long-suppressed identity. In this family dramedy about the complications of sexuality and secrets, Ruby is forced to grow up faster than she may want to, as her dad plays catch-up.” [Synopsis courtesy of Outfest]
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of a collection of interviews with the filmmakers from Outfest 2010’s “Four In Focus” selection, which features work from four first time directors.
Outfest screening: July 15
Maggs on her Canadian roots and why she made “Grown Up Movie Star”…
I am a writer and director from Newfoundland, an island off the east coast of Canada.
I wanted to tell a story that was very personal, though it is not autobiographical. I wanted to explore the idea that as humans none of us are purely good or purely evil, and that one can empathize with almost every journey a person chooses, if one was privy to the incidents and secrets that lead to a person’s actions. And that even if this is true, it doesn’t mean we don’t destroy each other completely.
I wanted to explore oppression, forgiveness, and sexual awakenings in differences ages and states of being. Whether the awakening is ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ it often happens exactly the same way.
On directing performers and on the challenges she faced in completing the project…
I wrote the film, so i was determined to make sure that the actors understood the characters I created through and through. But of course film is a collaboration and it became very clear very quickly that the actors in the film were going to breath life into the characters that i could never have predicted. So i backed off.
The film is both funny and often dark, so I had to work really hard to balance that tone. It was cold where we were shooting, extremely cold, Northern Atlantic Ocean in February kind of cold. Sometimes it was hard to make the most gorgeous actors look sexy in all that wind and freezing rain. Wreaks havoc on makeup.
On why audiences will warm to the film, and on one film that continues to inspire her…
Audiences will find themselves in the characters. The superficial teen who wants to be a Hollywood star is as scared, and humiliated and brave as we have ever had to be. The rural dad who can’t live as a straight man for one more day, despite his military father, will remind us of our deepest secrets, and our most triumphant freedoms. The paralyzed man in a wheelchair who falls in love with a precocious young girl, and actually thinks that she wants a sexual relationship with him, will evoke the delusions and impossible dreams we have all had. It is a film that reminds us that things get completely out of control one deliciously pleasurable step at a time.
“Boys Don’t Cry” was a film that deeply affected me when i was younger. I loved the colors and the visuals, they reminded me of where i lived in Newfoundland, even though it was the Southern U.S.