Saturday, December 20, 2014

Movie: Ask Me Anything

Having read the book Undiscovered Gyrl over the summer I was really looking forward to seeing the movie and to see how the film tackles many of the issues that the book handles.
I have to say that while I liked the book this is a case where I liked the movie better.  Which was really surprise me. 
The first 30 minutes of the movie were a little iffy. I found myself facing a bit of a learning curve with Katie. Brit Robinson ( who won Best Actress at the Nashville Film Festival for her performance in this film) is an actress I have been a fan of since  the Disney Channel movie Avalon High, seemed to have a bit of a hard time finding her footing in the start of the movie. Almost like she couldn't find the core of the character. She always standing very funny and also her behavior seemed to lack realism at times.This might have been part of her plan however it did little to pull me into the film. After those first 30 minutes she steadily seemed to shed this part of the character, and therefor became more relatable and believable.  I think that one of her finest moments was when she was seeking wisdom from Martin Sheen. Another when she was talking on the phone with her friend Joel's mother. Even after the movie was over I found myself thinking about those scenes. They really stayed with me as I'm sure it will stay with many audience members.
The supporting cast also did a wonderful job. Most notable of them being Martin Sheen and  Justin Long. Both gave very real performances that added a nice layer to the movie. 
However I think that the real star of the film was the music. Normally it is so hard to find a film with music that was so well tailored to not only the character but the style and pace of the movie as well.  by the end of the film I found myself wanting the Ask Me Anything soundtrack. Interestingly enough  entire soundtrack is made up of songs submitted to a contest via Craig's List.  The songs had to be written and performed by a female, 21 years old and younger. Undiscovered girls you could say.
The soundtrack very rightfully won best music at the Nashville Film Festival.

On the behind the scenes side  of things, I was very impressed by the over all quality of the film, given it's tight budget. 
Whoever made the call not to have the film play into all of those blogger cliches was brilliant.
I had been fearful that the movie would done like a series of blog post.
But thankfully it was not. While that style worked for the book it would have created a far to great disconnect in the movie. The only thing that fell short on that side was the flash backs. To me it was too over the top.  rather than pulling me into Katie's past it had me losing interested in her back story. 

A highlight of the film was the ending for me.  And while I can't talk about it as both a fan of the book and movie it was wonderful. Above and beyond what I had hoped for.

(UN-  However the film does contain brief nudity,and langue) 

Stars: * * * 3.6

The film can be rented from, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, On demand, direcTV, AT&T  Xbox, Sony, Verizon, and many more.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Interview : Allison Burnett

Hello readers! I got the wonderful chance to interview author, screenwriter and now film director Allison Burnett. It was wonderful to get to ask him some questions about his book Undiscovered Gyrl which Allison adapted into the film Ask Me Anything. 

How did you first come up with the idea of Undiscovered Gyrl?

In 2007, the Writers Guild of America went on strike.  Every morning I would walk the picket line with my colleagues and we would lament the fact that we were under strict instructions from our union to stop writing.  Since I had already published two novels, I wondered if I might take advantage of this downtime from screenwriting to write another novel.  When I sat down in the cold dark one morning I heard the voice of Katie Kampenfelt.  She was based on many girls, some of whom were bloggers whose work I had stumbled upon while promoting an earlier novel.

How was writing about/from a teenage girl’s point of view different from your other work?

Whenever a novelist tells a story in the first person he is taking a huge gamble. If the narrator's voice is not pitch perfect, then he or she has nothing.  The book is worthless.  The whole time I was writing I was aware that I was on a high wire and if I did not get it right I would fall to my death.  When the book finally came out, it sold well among teenage girls (even though it was written for adults.)  Only once in all these years since did I receive an email from a reader telling me that Katie did not ring true to them.  It was from a middle-aged man!  Three of my other novels are narrated by a tall, fat,  bald, chemically imbalanced, gay alcoholic.   In other words, I am comfortable channeling voices unlike my own. 

What was it like take transform your novel into a screenplay?

Remarkably easy, because I had let two years pass.  This gave me the objectivity I needed to make the million tiny decisions of what to keep and what to cut.

Did writing the screenplay reveal things about Katie or her story that you hadn’t been aware of before?

Not really, but making the movie did.  Putting a body onto the voice changed everything.  In the book, Katie's language is what draws the reader in -- her wit, charm, and open, buoyant spirit -- but in the movie, there is a flesh-and-blood human before us whose actions must resonate for the viewer.  It is her behavior not merely her language that must engage us, and the tiniest gesture can speak a thousand words.  

What was the most challenging thing about making the movie?

Because we shared our lead actress, Britt Robertson, with another film whose schedule had been disrupted by Hurricane Sandy, we were forced to shoot for five days in October, six in November, five in December, and six in January.  This was brutally difficult and stressful.  I wouldn't wish uncertainty like this on my worse enemy.

What was one of your favorite moments while shooting?

The one that makes me smile every time I think of it was when the wonderful Max Carver was filming a hot-and-heavy love scene with Britt.  I am pretty meticulous about what I want in any given scene, so I found myself in the corner telling Max exactly how I wanted him to orgasm.  It was hilarious for both of us.

What do you hope audiences take away from Katie’s story?

A few things:  I want everyone to understand that what we read on-line is no more real than what we read in a novel.  The internet is a fictive medium.  Everyone is self-dramatizing, self-protecting, self promoting, and self-deceiving.  Also, I hope Katie's story will serve as a cautionary tale to those who avoid the journey inward by venturing out recklessly in search of love.  But, most important, I hope they think of Katie with love and affection, accepting her for all her myriad flaws.

What is next for you?

I want to direct my own adaptation of a wonderful novel called Inside Out Girl, by Tish Cohen.  A fabulous story with a gigantic heart.


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