While TIFF will be playing host this year to a number of veteran directors unveiling their latest films, the festival will also be the proving grounds for a handful of first-time filmmakers who will be hoping to make an impression on audiences and the industry. And one of those folks is writer/director Josh Boone, who will be unspooling “Writers” starring Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Logan Lerman and Lily Collins. And with its premiere just days away, not only do we have two exclusive new images from the film, but we also got a chance to talk with Boone about making the film and promising soundtrack that’s coming with it.
“It couldn’t have gone more beautifully as far as how it happened,” Boone said about getting his first movie off the ground. With no short films or commercial work to open any doors, he relied on his pen and passion for cinema, and attracted talent like Mark Ruffalo and David Duchovny for projects “The Atomic Age” and “Parallels,” respectively. But even as those projects didn’t get off the ground, Boone persisted.
“I sent a letter to Judy Cairo who produced ‘Crazy Heart‘ who gave me the shot to make this movie. I was with this small agency who had had this script for maybe a year after I had written it. They just hadn’t done much with it, they knew I wanted to direct it, I think it was just them not believing that that was a realistic thing,” he explained. “And I was just so frustrated after a while that I wrote maybe twenty or thirty letters to producers that I knew had worked with first time directors and Judy was one of the ones that I stalked [laughs]. She ended up liking it, and she took it to CAA and they had agents there who really got behind it and had their talent meet with me. I was very, very lucky.”
So what’s the story that got the wheels turning on this? “Writers” centers on Bill Borgens (Kinnear), a prominent author still emotionally attached to his ex-wife, played by Connelly. Collins and Nat Wolff take the roles of their children, who are both romantically entangled with a classmate (Lerman) and a first love (Liana Liberato), respectively. Rounding out the cast is Kristen Bell playing Tricia, Bill’s casual hook-up attempting to aid him through his destructive feelings, and making a cameo is famed horror author Stephen King.
“I tell people the movie is like my hope chest. I just kind of put everything in there that I believed in and care about, and this is what came out on the other end. It’s fictitious, but it’s also autobiographical,” Boone said, adding: “It’s a little bit about my parents divorce, it’s a little bit about a romance I had in high school, I based some characters on my brother and sister to some degree. I just put a lot of myself into it.”
And some of that personal touch extended to the soundtrack. “Writers” boasts a score by Bright Eyes members Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott, and the songs as a whole helped guide the feel of the movie. “Music was kind of a huge part of the conversation process with actors. A lot of these actors were ilke me and they listen to a lot of music on set, on our earbuds. I wrote a lot of songs into this script, knowing I wanted to use them and we were able to get most of what I needed for the movie,” Boone said. And indeed, the line-up is impressive.
“Elliot Smith, The National, Bon Iver, Ed[ward] Sharpe…Bright Eyes has been one of my favourite bands since Fevers And Mirrors came out. So when I met with the music supervisor for the first time he said ‘Who’s your dream [to score the movie]?’ And I was like ‘The Bright Eyes guys.’ And somehow he helped make that happen. Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott scored it and Conor [Oberst] gave us an original song and did some other work on it and it turned out really beautifully.”
“Writers” premieres at TIFF on Sunday, September 9th.