A Few Minutes With... Adam Saunders on 'Family Weekend'
March 29th, 2013 9:40am EDT
The hilarious new comedy Family Weekend arrives in select theaters today, and yesterday BFTV dialed up the film's producer Adam Saunders to get the scoop on the Kristin Chenoweth and Matthew Modine-led flick about a particularly unconventional attempt at family bonding.
Family Weekend stars Chenoweth and Modine as Samantha Smith-Dungy and Duncan Dungy, who miss their daughter Emily's (Olesya Rulin, High School Musical) big jump-roping competition, which prompts Emily to mastermind a plan in which she and her siblings take their parents hostage in hopes of reuniting the family. It's a big credit for Footprint Features, the production company founded by Adam, Peter Gail, and Benjamin Epps, who also directed the movie. "We came across, through a mutual friend, this script," explained Adam. "We thought the characters were really rich and the dialogue was great and it was something we could produce because it was all in one house."
Not only did they back the project, but Adam and his team worked with writer Matt K. Turner to develop the film into its final product. "We went through a lot of drafts," continued Adam, who also appears in Family Weekend as Rick, who Samantha is suspected of having an affair with - and that's an intentional bit of casting. "When we set out to do it, we wanted to produce a project that Ben could direct and I could act in," he added. "In the original version of the script, the character of Rick never appears. We thought this guy should be in the movie regardless [of who played him], and actually it was really great."
He called the experience of making the film "amazing. [Oscar-winning director-producer-writer] Edward Zwick, his production company produced it with us, and he was definitely lending a helping hand in this whole process. All these amazing people who basically took a chance on first-time filmmakers, it was at times surreal and we felt this obligation to do right by them. This has been our sole focus for the past three years."
People can now see the result of all that hard work, as Family Weekend opens in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and Dallas (see the film's official website for specific theaters and tickets). For Adam, it's literally a dream come true. "We hoped for something like this. We were like, 'Let's get this thing and get big stars and get it in theaters.' That was always the idea," he said. "I do think this is what we set out to do. Now that we're here, we realize how fortunate we've been to get here."
He's particularly grateful for his ensemble. "We had great casting directors in Ron Digman and Valorie Massalas, and I think when Kristin came on and Joey King came on, and certainly when Olesya came on, it just elevated [the movie]," he continued. "We got exactly who we wanted in every role."
What stands out to Adam about Family Weekend? "To me, the theme of this film is important," he explained. "It's about family. I had that growing up, and I know Ben had that growing up. That's who made us believe we could do things like this. That message is one of the things i'm excited about. It's entertaining and it's fun, [but also] at the end of it you're left with this idea that family is really important, and parents and kids showing up for each other is really important."
Beyond however successful the film ultimately ends up being, equally as remarkable is the story of how it came together: of Adam, Peter and Ben deciding to found Footprint in order to open their own doors in the business. 'We said, 'Listen, we want to be in movies, rather than waiting for people to hire us, why don't we do it ourselves?" said Adam, who worked at Spyglass Entertainment during the day and went to producing school at night.
Now he's putting that education to good use, as Footprint has two more films in the works. "we're doing a movie called Seven Years, Three Days, which is basically an updated Big Chill. It's a beautiful, beautiful script about friendship," he continued. "Then in January, we're going to do a movie called When We First Met, which is basically 500 Days of Summer meets Groundhog Day. We're putting together a really fabulous team for that, too. I think that these next two projects are going to be really great." To keep up with the Footprint team, you can visit the company's website.
Thursday, as Adam prepared for the theatrical debut of Family Weekend, he encouraged other aspiring filmmakers not to be afraid of actively pursuing their dreams. "This is also to me, an example of what people can do," he said. "It shows that you don't have to be sitting ona lot of money or have a lot of studio connections or whatever. If you have a project that is good and you have a lot of people that believe in it, if you just don't stop until it's done, great things can happen."
Family Weekend opens in limited release today and is also available via Video on Demand; it arrives on DVD April 23rd. The trailer is below (courtesy of MovieClips.com). You can also get more information by visiting the official website and following the film's official Twitter (@FWMovie).
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.
Photo Credits: PR Photos