Why does this film suit your sensibilities?
I think this film was great for my sensibilities. When I first read the script I immediately loved it because, for me, it was a total throwback to the movies that I loved when I was a kid: Ferris Buellers Day Off, Sixteen Candles, Adventures in Babysitting, all the sort of John Hughes movies. This is sort of like Ferris Buellers Night Out in a way, except for with 14 year-old girls. I love it. They go from place to place and have lots of adventures. Theres lots of room for comedy and at the same time, theres just enough drama with the girls not learning lessons, but growing and changing in interesting ways.
Have you had to learn a lot of patience working with teenage girls?
Not really. I sort of feel like because theyre used to being kids and doing what adults say, whether its in school or from their parents or whatever, I think its actually easier in some ways.
How is your style different working with teenagers versus adults?
I think its the same. That was my decision from the beginning, to treat them exactly like I would treat adults. Not talk down to them and not play little games with them, but just say what I wanted and say what I needed from the scene, what I needed from them. Then they would feel like adults and feel like they were just working on the movie, just like everybody else, and that they had a job to do and they would do it. Thats played out pretty well. But like I was saying, I think its actually better because theyre so used to, Be quiet, stand over here They do it because thats what they do from their parents and from their teachers. Whereas an adult isnt going to take that all the time. Whether its me or the people who run the set in the more managerial way, the girls basically do whats asked of them. Theyre such good kids anyway, theyre not divas.
You seem to get along well with them.
We laugh together a lot. What was really nice was that we had two weeks together of rehearsal, which is rare for a movie this size. It really, really helped me bond with the girls. There were no other people, no one was waiting, the camera wasnt set up, [and] there werent 100 people standing around. It was just me and the girls in a quiet room, and we were really able to get to know each other and work on the characters.
How difficult is it to shoot in a mall while the stores are open?
Right now we are shooting at Old Navy at the Del Amo Mall. Its pretty much like shooting anywhere else. As far as Im concerned, Im so focused on the kids and the camera and whats going on, there could be a hundred people shopping in the store and I wouldnt even notice. Sometimes I look over and see the people actually shopping and Im surprised.
What would you say makes these girls stars?
I think its their watchability. You just take one look at them and you want to see what they do next. I think that they all have that sort of magnetic, energetic, bright personality. When they smile, you smile, and youre happy to see what theyre doing. When they get into something, you just want to see how it turns out. You root for them. I think thats what does it.
What opens this movie up to audiences beyond just teen girls?
I think that, hopefully, one of the things thatll open it up to a broader audience is just it being a good movie. I know that my friends and I go to see high school movies, and Im 30. Im not in high school anymore, but I was in high school. You know what I mean? I wont necessarily immediately run out and go see a high school movie but if I hear from a couple of places that its good, I will, because I can relate to it. Everyone has been in junior high; everyone has had a sleepover. Most people snuck out of the house. I dont know that a broader audience would run out and see it the way girls might, but if they hear its good, they will. There will be something to relate to. Parents will get a real kick out of this movie. I hope. The adult actors are really talented and funny. Adults will enjoy seeing them.