As I'm sure you're all aware, one film that I've been following very closely - more so than any other standard film site - is this year's forthcoming high-school drama/comedy The Outskirts. Well, I was lucky enough to get some questions about the film answered by director Peter Hutchings.
Read on for the full interview.
Read on for the full interview.
We've seen a colourful first poster, a couple of stills and are expecting the film's first trailer very soon too. Since it was announced, my anticipation for this has been out of the roof. With the trailer expected soon, I was lucky enough to get an exclusive still to debut (see that here) - and there's even a few exclusive behind-the-scenes images in this article too - but, even better, I got to have a little Q&A with The Outskirts director himself, Mr. Peter Hutchings, and we chat a little bit about the film, about a possible sequel, some Star Wars action and so much more. Below is the interview:
What was it that first appealed to you about the project?
I fell in love with the characters, and by the time I was done reading the script I had laughed and cried and wanted to share that experience with a young audience.Can you tell us a little bit about what the film's about?
It's about a lot of things. The main plot is about two girls who decided to stand up for themselves and organise a social revolution in their school. But at its heart, it's a story about friendship, community, and the search for authenticity. It's about being yourself and forming a supporting and respectful group of friends.
This is, of course, your second venture into directing. How does this compare to Rhymes With Banana?
I directed Rhymes with Joe Muszynski, and we had an absolute blast. It's also a female-cantered comedy, and it deals with similar themes of creativity, forming a community, and embracing difference.
The film deals with the important issue of bullying. I think we've all fallen victim to a mean kid in school. Were you able to relate to Mindy and Jodi?
Very much so. When I was growing up, I was teased mercilessly for studying dance. Middle school was particularly hard for me. But I had the good fortune of finding an amazing group of friends, and I discovered a passion for theatre and film: these things saved me.
What challenges did dealing with such a delicate but prominent topic present?
The main challenge was making a film that could resonate emotionally with young people, while also entertaining them. It's great that the topic of bullying is getting so much attention, and I hope The Outskirts gets even more people talking about it. I think that because the film's so entertaining, it makes these more serious the near a bit easier to swallow. Just a spoonful of sugar, right?
Off of that, what challenges were present with shooting this film in general?
Our biggest challenge was time. We shot this film in 25 days, which is very quick for any movie, let alone one of this scope. But it forced us to focus on the essentials, which was a great experience as a storyteller. And I don't think anything important was compromised, which feels very rewarding.
You were quoted saying, in an interview, that this is almost like Mean Girls meet Revenge of the Nerds. Did a lot of inspiration come out of those films?
I think everything you encounter becomes a source of inspiration, for better or for worse. Which is why it's really important to be discerning about what we choose to open ourselves up to. I was raised on 80s movies like Revenge of the Nerds, and I was thrilled when Ted McGinley - who plays one of the bully, frat boys in that film - agreed to play our principal. Mean Girls deserves all the praise it gets. It's a brilliant comedy that redefined the genre. The Outskirts aspires to that blend of wit, physical humour, memorable characters, and potent ideas.
What were your favourite teen films growing up?
I loved them all! Everything Josh Hughes, of course. Some Kind of Wonderful, which he wrote and Howard Deuth directed, is a real gem. Back to the Future is one of the great films of any genre. Stand By Me too. The Goonies holds up remarkably well. I love more recent contributions too. I watch Superbad once a year and think it's one of the best movies ever made about adolescent male friendship.
Of course, you're working with a lot of youngsters on this project. They must've been a hard group to wrangle, on-set, at times?
Wrangle is the right word. Any time we had more than 3 actors on set, it was like getting cats to line up in a parade. Seriously, though, this cast was a dream to work with. They were lovely and bright and professional. I couldn't have asked for anything more.
I'm picturing lots of behind-the-scenes shenanigans. What sort of stuff did you get up to with them, off set, after takes?
I had a house in town for the Summer, and we threw some great parties for the cast. I remember, at one of them, I was exhausted from a day of shooting, and was just lying on the couch watching everyone hang out: "outcasts" and "populars"; California actors and New York actors; experienced stars and first timers. They all loved each other and gelled so well. It was very satisfying to see that happen.
The Outskirts has an amazing, star-studded cast. What was it like working with these talented actors?
A lot of these actors are used to being the star and having a lot of perks, but they were passionate about the project and knew what they were getting into. There weren't any divas or clashing egos or anything like that. Everyone was enthusiastic and cooperative and professional.
I, myself, am a massive fan particularly of Peyton List's. She plays a mean girl in this film but that's the total opposite of her bubbly personality. What was it like working with her and what can you tell us about her character Mackenzie?
I adore Peyton. She is one of the loveliest, sweetest people you will ever meet. And it goes to show what a great actor she is when you see how she completely transforms as Mackenzie! She is a "mean girl in training," preparing to take over the reigns from the Queen Bee Whitney (Claudia Lee). Peyton had so much fun playing Mackenzie and I can't wait for her fans to see her in the role!
This is a film that takes place in a high school, about high school students. What's one of your best memories of high school?
Preparing for this movie brought back a lot of memories. I was in a Shakespeare troupe throughout high school, and senior year I played Malvolio in Twelfth Night. That was a real highlight for me.
The film's set to open this November. This year is packed with all sorts of major blockbusters, sequels and reboots. For a film not as widely known as something like The Hunger Games or The Avengers, was there ever any pressure going up against these cinema giants?
We're opening against the new James Bond movie, and nobody's expecting for us to beat 007 at the box office! But our audience probably won't go see that movie anyway, so it's great counter programming. Our goal though was just to make the best, most entertaining movie we could and stay true to the heart and soul of the story.
On that regard, aside from this, what has to be your most anticipated of this year? Mines I, obviously, The Outskirts.
Star Wars. Based on that trailer, J.J Abrams and co. got it right. I'll be there opening day.
Would you ever consider doing a sci-fi film yourself, in the future? What other genres would you love to tackle?
Definitely. I'm writing a sci-fi script right now, and I'm also attached to direct a sci-fi comedy. I'd love to work in lots of genres: anywhere there's a good story, dynamic characters, and a theme I'm interested in exploring.
And would you ever come back to direct another teen flick?
For sure. Adolescence is a remarkable time for discovering one's identity - often called "coming of age" - and that's one of the perennial story archetypes.
Perhaps you could come back for The Outskirts 2. Do you think that's something we could possibly see, sometime in the near future?
There very well be more stories to tell. Dominique and Suzanne created a world with original characters that we really fall in love with.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet though. We still have the first one to see. Lastly, what can audiences expect from The Outskirts?
A great time at the theaters with their friends. It's a movie that I always imagined groups of friends going to see together and then talking about after and quoting at length.With Peter Hutchings at the helm, and starring Victoria Justice, Eden Sher, Claudia Lee, Peyton List, Avan Jogia, Ashley Rickards, Will Peltz, Jazmyn Richardson and Katie Chang, The Outskirts is set to release on November 6th, 2015.
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.