The premise of a grown man reliving his younger days after going to his high school reunion is nothing new. However, when it’s for the film “Ten Years” and the cast includes up-and-comers like Ari Graynor (“For a Good Time, Call”), Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”) and Jenna Dewan Tatum, not to mention certified stars like Channing Tatum (“Magic Mike”), Rosario Dawson (“Zookeeper”) and Justin Long (“New Girl”), the plot gets a rekindled spirit.
Director Jamie Linden (“Dear John”) spoke with the Eagle about the process of making and writing “Ten Years”
Q: What inspired you to direct/write a movie about a 10-year high school reunion?
“Well, I had worked with Channing Tatum in “Dear John” and we, along with the producers, were looking for an excuse to shoot something different than the typical big budget movies are usually shot. We wanted to cast a bunch of people that we have worked with, have it be loose and not set in stone. I had just come from my high school reunion in Florida with Scott Porter [“The Good Wife”] who is also in the film, so that was definitely motivation. Channing also went to a high school in Florida, in Tampa, so we decided to shoot a very loose plot that focuses more on the chronological order of events for each character in the film, making it seem more realistic.”
Q: There are certainly a lot of big Hollywood names in this movie, and they all seemed to have a really good chemistry. Why did you choose actors that previously worked so closely together?
“Yes, we all worked together at some point or another. There always seems to be that three degrees of separation in Hollywood. I, personally, have worked with half of them before or I knew them well enough to ask them to be a part of it. I’ve always wanted to work with Justin Long, who is one of the funniest and nicest guys you will ever meet. I am also a huge fan of ‘Parks and Recreation,’ so it was an honor for Aubrey and Chris [Pratt, “Parks and Recreation”)] to be a part of the movie. We got really lucky with them. Once we picked our cast, we designed their characters on the basis of what high school life was for them. The mix of the people who knew and worked together and the newer cast members that I worked with for the first time really did create this amazing chemistry.”
Q: What do you want your audience to gain from your film?
“I would actually call it more of a process than a film, which allowed us to make something so real and have a more creative collaboration. We were going for more genuine emotion and natural characteristics from our cast. We wanted it to be as universal as possible, something everyone can relate to. We purposely didn’t say the name of the city where the high school took place, so that anyone from any part of the U.S. — from Alaska, to Iowa, to New York — could identify to these characters. In a way, it was creating a blank slate for the audience. “
Q: What advice would you give to young college students aspiring to be in the filmmaking industry?
“Watch a lot of movies. I’m always a little surprised that everyone I meet in Hollywood is not a fan of movies. They see it more as just work, which is definitely the case for most filmmakers. You can tell who the people are that genuinely love movies, and all kinds of genres, too, which really broaden your horizons. The more you watch movies, the more you’ll be able to feel from them, pick up some tips and the better off you’ll be.
It’s so great how accessible it is to make movies today. You couldn’t do that 25 years ago. We made this movie on a very low budget, and we probably could have made it for even less if we wanted to. It’s amazing how you can create something that looks and behaves like a real movie with such accessibility and a low budget.”