1. Where did the idea come from?
My first job out of college was working at a group home for at-risk teenagers. The initial ideas for this story came out of that life-altering experience. I also collected stories from various supervisors and social workers in this field, which were woven into the screenplay as well.
2. Being an independent feature, was it a struggle to get made? What challenges did you face?
It was definitely a challenge to find an investor who believed in the story enough to take a chance on it. A movie about people working and living in a group home isn’t exactly a big money-maker. I feel very lucky to have found the support of two incredible production companies, Animal Kingdom & Traction Media, who felt the story was important enough to tell.
3. How did you go about casting the film?
I try not to have too many preconceived ideas about casting my films. I like to keep an open mind and see how different actors interpret the characters. A lot of the time, there are really great surprises.
4. Brie Larson is incredible in the film, what was your collaboration like both in preparing for the role and on set?
Brie’s a really exciting actor to work with. Our preparation was simply talking about the character and the complex things that are happening inside her. The fun part was watching Brie take all of that information and wrestle with it in the moment. She’s a very instinctual performer, so every day was filled with wonderful surprises.
5. The young actors playing the children are all fantastic, did they have any acting experience beforehand?
The young actors were all at different levels of experience. Keith Stanfield (Marcus) had never been in a feature before, while Kaitlyn Dever (Jayden) had quite a bit of experience in both film and television. But the truth was, I couldn’t tell the difference. Every one of them were incredibly professional and blew me away every day.
6. The film has had a fabulous reception from film festivals and audiences around the world. Have you had any particularly strong reactions from people with whom the film has struck a chord with?
One of my favourite parts of this process is engaging with audiences after the film. I’ve had countless conversations with people who have had strong reactions to the story and characters. It seems to be a movie that encourages people to open up and talk about real emotions and experiences. When that happens, I feel very lucky.
I’m never very good at answering this question, because I think every film I’ve ever watched has affected the way I tell stories in one way or another…even the really bad ones.
8. What are your plans for 2014?
I’m going to do some writing this year, and hopefully make another movie if I’m lucky.
SHORT TERM 12 is available on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD now.
You can find our more about our upcoming Discover Tuesdays screenings here.