It’s not necessarily experiences that we have all gone through but I do think that there is something about The Glass Castle that still resonates and feels very familiar. We may not have gone through something to that degree but I think everybody has a Rex Walls in their life. Everybody knows what it feels like to want to love somebody so badly and have the struggle of how difficult that can be with someone who is either an alcoholic or has ups and downs in their life or who can’t be what we need from them. And it’s incredible to watch somebody like Jeannette go through something like that and come out the other end, not just learning how to accept that part of it but to take it and make it something that makes her so much of a better person. That’s really inspiring to me.
We see ourselves as filmmakers and as storytellers. We want to make films that move people emotionally. The most effective thing that cinema can do is get into people’s hearts and have them see a new perspective on life—step inside someone else’s shoes and mind for 90 minutes and experience the world in that way. Take them away, make them laugh, make them cry, all those things movies are good at. We also think they can be incredibly effective ways to see social issues through their characters. That’s why we make movies about remarkable people like President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives in “The Island President” and Al Gore in this film, who get up every day and are driven in an almost inhuman way to make a change in a problem that they see in the world and shine truth into a very dark arena where bad actors try to lie to the American public to gain profits for fossil fuel companies. To us, that’s a natural drama. And that’s primarily where we work—character-based films that we hope will bring issues to life through their stories.
We were amazed and heartened that part of Al’s message is this incredible hope with sustainable energy that can help get us out of this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. Bonni and I have teenagers and so it’s become more of an emotional issue. As Al Gore says in the film, it’s more like civil rights or women’s suffrage or apartheid than like a petty political issue. It’s of utmost importance to the future of the planet.
“Each dance is so special because it’s how each partner is interpreting the music and reacting to their partner. So as Andrea Gordon says in the film, it’s almost like you dance with someone you have never met before and by the end you feel like you can finish each other’s sentences because you’re connecting on a very, very basic human level of touch and movement and music and improvisation and trust. There is that incredible connection that goes well beyond ‘we have a shared passion.’
You’ll never have the same dance and you’re always looking for that next high with somebody else. You go on to the next person, the next partner but that’s when you get the sense of community. And you can go to a town where you do not know anyone and have an instant community of people who will welcome you….
It’s not about having a beautiful line; it’s being a badass, and it’s being silly and goofy. The whole point of this is: take the time, have fun, be silly, be goofy, be as crazy as you can be. The competitions are really intense and people do amazing stuff but at the end they all just want to dance with each other and cheer each other on. Everybody just wants to see something great and have fun and then we all have a good time and dance with each other.”
It definitely started with Charlie Brown. We initially thought that were going to take a childlike image of a ghost, the Halloween costume that everyone knows from Charlie Brown and finds some pathos in it. But to find that pathos we really had to develop that symbol, that image that costume to a degree we hadn’t expected.
The songs inspired the movie and some entire scenes are completely dictated by the music. Songs actually dictate what the action was. ‘Bell Bottoms’ is a good example because it has maybe two and a half minutes of buildup to where the actual rock really kicks in. I listened to that track about 22 years ago and straight away thought: ‘Oh, this is the guy sitting outside. The other guys have gone into the bank and then while he’s singing along with the music he is looking at what’s happening in the bank. And then they get out and that’s where the chase starts. The song has these amazing little anchor points of where hero moments are going to happen.