Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

'Star Trek' Scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci Go Small and Intimate With 'People Like Us' at LAFF Premiere

Photo of Jay A. Fernandez By Jay A. Fernandez | Indiewire June 18, 2012 at 1:15PM

Friday night at the Los Angeles Film Festival, blockbuster screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci finally stepped out from behind the gigantic shadows of directors Michael Bay, J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg to show moviegoers what they could do on their own. Their first low-budget drama, “People Like Us” (more distinctive original title: “Welcome to People”), had its world premiere at the Regal Cinemas downtown at L.A. Live, and the duo seemed both relieved and exhilarated by the moment.
0

Friday night at the Los Angeles Film Festival, blockbuster screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci finally stepped out from behind the gigantic shadows of directors Michael Bay, J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg to show moviegoers what they could do on their own. Their first low-budget drama, “People Like Us” (more distinctive original title: “Welcome to People”), had its world premiere at the Regal Cinemas downtown at L.A. Live, and the duo seemed both relieved and exhilarated by the moment.

Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci

“This is the end of a nine-year journey for us,” said Kurtzman, who both co-wrote the script with Orci and Jody Lambert and directed for the first time. “I feel really proud of the work everybody did. Everybody brought 100% of themselves. It’s been the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done creatively and one of the most deeply satisfying personally. It’s very rare that your work and your life collide in this way and give you the opportunity to tell a personal story but to do it in such a way that everyone gives you the tools to do your best. It just doesn’t happen.”

That personal element had more than a few audience members sobbing in their seats. In “People,” a slick salesman with major debt and reliability problems learns that his estranged father, who has just died, once had a daughter, too. When he reluctantly goes to L.A. to deliver a bag of cash to the woman and her son, it uncovers a lifetime of hurt and longing as well as the possibility of forming a real family.

At the afterparty Friday, the 38-year-old Kurtzman said that the storyline is an amalgam of several real-life elements, but that in reality he didn’t meet his own half-sister until he was 30 years old. “It’s very personal,” he says of the film. “It doesn’t get more personal.” Asked if his sister was at the party, he said coyly, “She might be.”

“These are the kinds of movies we started writing,” said Orci. “When we started writing out of high school, we wrote stuff about us and our families and our girlfriends. What we’re known for was a detour that we took to get back to this point. It’s a big detour, and I’ll take it as a detour. But to have his first directing gig be the kind of movie that we always wanted to write is…”

People Like Us

“The beauty of this for us is, this movie is balance,” added Kurtzman.

“We’d like to keep doing both kinds if we can,” said Orci, “and hopefully this one proves that we can do other things.”

While they say they don’t have another small drama in the pipeline (this one cost about $16 million), they are, as usual, in the midst of a great number of new tentpole projects. “Star Trek 2,” which they wrote with Damon Lindelof, just finished filming with Abrams back in the captain’s chair; “Ender’s Game,” which they are producing, is in production at Summit/Lionsgate; “Now You See Me,” another producing effort, is in post-production at Summit/Lionsgate; and they are writing “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” for Sony. Which means this summer will be one of the rare times when they don’t have a major studio release in play.

Disney and DreamWorks are releasing “People” June 29 (“Magic Mike,” “Madea’s Witness Protection,” “Take This Waltz” and “Ted” also hit that weekend), and the studios have had the writer-director and stars Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks doing a pre-release tour of buzz screenings around the country. But Friday night was family night, and Kurtzman had his entire extended clan at the WP24 party at the Ritz Carlton. In a nifty extension of their collaboration, this was only because his writing partner gave him all of his family tickets.

“I had to make sure [Alex’s] whole family could come,” Orci said. “But believe me, I bank all this. We write this down. It’s gonna come around.”

This article is related to: People Like Us, Los Angeles Film Festival






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More