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Elston Gunn Interviews Writer/Producer David Paterson About LOVE, LUDLOW And BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA!!

Published at: Nov. 28, 2006, 6:57 p.m. CST by Moriarty

Hey, everyone. ”Moriarty” here. Elston Gunn's back on the scene with this interview that, for one reason or another, got misplaced in my inbox. One of our chatters was telling me the other day that BRIDGE TO TERABITHA was a huge influence on her as a kid, and that she was curious about the movie. I'd say based on this interview that the film sounds like it's in good hands. It's nice work by Elston Gunn, so check it out:

As a writer and producer David Paterson now has one indie and one studio feature under his belt. LOVE, LUDLOW, directed by Adrienne J. Weiss, is a sweet and small dramedy about the relationship between a mild-mannered guy, a tough New York woman and her extremely idiosyncratic brother, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005 and was released on DVD earlier this year by Warner Home Video. Next up for Paterson was to adapt the Newbery Award-winning classic children's book BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA about the friendship of a boy and girl, who are also the fastest runners in their elementary school, and their adventures in a magical forest. The author of the book is Katharine Paterson, David's mother. You can see LOVE LUDLOW Wednesday, December 6, on Starz Comedy. Disney is set to release BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA, directed by Gabor Csupo, in theaters on February 16, 2007. Check out the trailer right here. Paterson took some time to answer some questions for AICN. [Elston Gunn]: Where did you get the idea for LOVE, LUDLOW? What inspired it? [David Paterson]: LOVE, LUDLOW is clearly an overnight success, as it's based on a play I wrote 19 years ago. As the story goes, I was living in England at the time, and I only wrote in pubs. So, one night as I'm sitting in this packed smoky bar with the clatter of English, Irish and a myriad of other foreign dialects I suddenly caught the distinctive sound of a true "New Yawker." Intrigued, I made my way to the bar, discovered two lovely blonde gals from the US. I told a joke, only one of them laughed, and she's been with me for the last 19 years. Ariana, my wife, is a tough-talking chick from Queens, NY with a heart of gold. That is where I came up with the character of Myra. Reggie and Ludlow are based on my split personality, because as I was falling for my wife, half the time I was a pretty swell guy, the other half I could be a real jerk. It was a little under four years ago that I decided to make a film. I chose LOVE, LUDLOW because it was a three-person single-set play. Cost, of course, was an issue, so I wanted to start out small. Of course, I did have to open the play up considerably. [EG]: Going into the film I was expecting a "love triangle" story, and in a way I guess it is, but instead there's a new dynamic between a brother and sister that's not often explored. [DP]: New York City is a great city, but also a very daunting one. If you don't have many friends, you tend to gravitate towards family. Ludlow and Myra are siblings, but they also rely on each other for companionship as well. [EG]: I thought it was great that you soon forget Alicia Goranson as "Becky from ROSEANNE" and believe her as this struggling character. [DP]: She's a terrific actress, and in my opinion clearly underappreciated for her skills and talent. [EG]: Ludlow also seems like an actor's dream to play. We don't know if he's mentally ill, or simply immature to the point of near-insanity. Plus, the character has heart. [DP]: I chose early on not to "diagnose" Ludlow. I'm not a doctor, and if I tried to "label" him, the critics would come out of the woodwork attacking me, I'm sure. When people ask me what's wrong with Ludlow, I tell them he's a New Yorker. That generally gets a laugh, but what I mean is you can walk through this town on any given day and see someone "weird" or disturbed that probably should be on medication or being looked after. But nobody's doing that. They've fallen through the cracks of society. Myra's keeping Ludlow from falling into the cracks. [EG]: Not only did you write the script, but you built the set as well. A writer can't get much more hands-on than that. Was this simply to save money by not hiring a carpenter? [DP]: Save money. I'm a pretty cheap bastard. I got the local Home Depot to donate the lumber and I built it over several weeks leading up to the filming. [EG]: Any advice for independent filmmakers? [DP]: Ignore these three deadly words: No, can't, and impossible. Any one of these can sink your production. [EG]: How was your Sundance experience? [DP]: Exciting upon being accepted, pure terror while you are there. A lot of people think that if you get into Sundance, youve made it. They're wrong. 99% of films that premiere at Sundance go nowhere after it. I was working like a madman to push, promote and publicize LOVE, LUDLOW at the festival. I did not want Sundance to be the highlight of LOVE, LUDLOW, just the launching point. [EG]: How did BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA happen for you? [DP]: BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA is loosely based on something that happened to me when I was in the third grade. My mother is the writer of the novel. [EG]: Was there a lot of personal pressure adapting your mother's most famous award-winning book? [DP]: I had a great deal of pressure, a lot of it self imposed I know, but since parts of the novel are based on some true events, my responsibility was threefold: honor the book and it's devoted readers, honor my mothers vision of the novel as well as the people who inspired the book, primarily my best friend when I was 8, Lisa Hill. [EG]: Did your mother have a lot of input? [DP]: She left me alone. Encouraged me of course, but she knew film invariably changes a book, and she trusted that I would do my best to make an adaptation I, and she, could be proud of. [EG]: What liberties did you take in adapting the screenplay? [DP]: I tried to minimized those, but production limitations kind of forced us to make some choices. Since we were shooting in New Zealand, we could not have the changes of season that happen in the book. We also tried to make the film take place in "the present" but also try not to date it by putting in recognizable objects that would date it, like the latest gameboy or iPod, which would probably be old by the time the movie came out. [EG]: What was Jeff Stockwell's role in writing the script? [DP]: Jeff was brought onto the project as an additional writer. He's the one who came up with the brilliant creatures that rule the land of Terabithia. This would be another case where we took liberties, because the novel itself is very vague on what actually occurs in Terabithia, giving the reader the opportunity to "create" their own ideas of that imaginary world. In film you can't do that, it's your job to create it. Actually, we had four writers work on the script, which is pretty average for a studio film. [EG]: What did you learn from LUDLOW that you applied to TERABITHIA? What were the differences in approaching both projects? [DP]: In both cases I was the writer and producer of the film, but expectations, responsibilities and ultimate control vary drastically in respects to both projects. As you know, 3 1/2 years ago I wasn't even in the film business. I've gone through one heck of a film school in the last 36 months. But both LOVE, LUDLOW and BRIDGE had been projects that I had kept close to me for over a decade, so caution and preparation were essential for both of their successes. [EG]: How did noted animator Gabor Csupo (THE SIMPSONS, WILD THORNBERRYS) get involved? [DP]: Gabor was brought on by Walden, and although it was to be his first live action film, he has a keen eye and sensibility for kids which was invaluable when working with the two children leads and supporting child actors. [EG]: You mentioned you're also a producer on the film. Did you feel your role as a producer was to keep the film true to the book? [DP]: The ultimate role of the (film) producer is to create a sucessful, both financially and critically, film. I had the additional pressure that if I messed that up, holidays at my parents' could be a little uncomfortable. [EG]: How was the shoot in New Zealand? [DP]: I'll be the first to admit I was wrong about locations. I fought against shooting in New Zealand, because I was convinced since the book took place in Virginia, we had to shoot in the states. But that's the beauty and magic in filmmaking, you can create your setting almost anywhere and convince the audience the time and place. In addition to financial and technical reasons for shooting in New Zealand, I do think the Terabithian woods have an extra level of magical exoticness that we probably could not have captured in the states. [EG]: What do you think sets this film apart from other children's fantasy movies? [DP]: It's pretty simple. I never considered it a children's fantasy novel. I considered it a good, actually great story that appeals to adults just as much as it does kids. I did not set out to make a kids movie, I wanted to make a movie, with an incredible story that would entertain and touch veiwers aged 8 to 80. [EG]: I think it's interesting you're a screenwriter as well as a Long Island volunteer fireman. Is that a good distraction from writing, a chance to interact with others while writing is so solitary? Do the two complement each other? [DP]: I can tell you one thing, I've never been in a fire nearly as scary as Hollywood itself. In a fire, you know what youre up against. In Hollywood, you never do. I'm lucky. I have what a lot of people would call "a regular life," and I also have the luxury of being in show business, but not immersed in it. I like to write, I like to fight fires, raise my two boys, sleep with a really hot gal and walk the dog. Well, the dog walking can suck occasionally, especially when it rains. But for the most part, I'm very lucky. [EG]: What else are you working on? [DP]: Although I never considered my self a "PG writer," it seems that's what I'm focused on right now. I'm developing a film with 21 Laps (NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM) as well as a film called CHANGING TIDES set on the eve of the Civil War that is to be shot in Savannah next fall. Both films are in the PG range and feature kids as the leads. [EG]: Are there any plans for feature adaptations of any other Katharine Paterson novels? [DP]: Absolutely. All of them, eventually. Elston<> Gunn

Readers Talkback

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  • Nov. 28, 2006, 7:12 p.m. CST

    First

    by FrogsFatA$$

    yay

  • Nov. 28, 2006, 8:33 p.m. CST

    That book made me cry like a little bitch as a kid.

    by BeeDub

    Somehow I doubt the movie will have that same power. Still looking forward to it, though.

  • Nov. 28, 2006, 11 p.m. CST

    Darn you, Michael Bay!

    by SingingHatchet

    What was this post about?

  • Nov. 28, 2006, 11:32 p.m. CST

    Co-creator of STORM is dead...

    by SingingHatchet

    http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/11/28/comic.death.ap/index.html Storm, Mystique, Nightcrawler and Colossus

  • Nov. 29, 2006, 12:01 a.m. CST

    I remember

    by Bloo

    doing a book report on B2T (ok, how strange is it that we have to abbriavte everything now, but I digress) when I was in school and we were always encouraged to be creative iwth our bookreports, like for when I did Hitchikers Guide, I made a big map of the universe and talked about the story pointing to different locals on the map, but getting back to the story at hand, I did like a radio type interview/newsstory on what happened in the story. Got an A+ Always thought it'd be a good movie, glad it's in good hands (the writer's son and Walden Media)...oh and now be prepared for some wacky TBer to get on and accuse Walden of being a right wing conspiracy machine

  • Nov. 29, 2006, 1:03 a.m. CST

    don't care

    by graycove

    book is too good

  • Nov. 29, 2006, 1:08 a.m. CST

    RIP Dave Cockrum...*BAMF!*

    by Negative Man

    Great artist that had his troubles... But he gave us Phoenix's costume, Mystique, Black Cat, Storm, Colossus, Thunderbird, Starjammers, the Shi'ar Imperial Guard, the Futurians... Hope you're in a better place where your demons will let you rest.

  • Nov. 29, 2006, 1:46 a.m. CST

    Saw the trailer for BTT...(spoilers?)

    by Zardoz

    and it's been many years since I read the book, but I don't really remember all the trolls and fairies and stuff. I dunno, maybe I was just too overwhelmed by the ending to remember anything else about the book. Saddest thing I ever read as a kid, and the first time I ever cried reading a book. I REALLY hope they did the book (and my memory of it) justice...

  • Nov. 29, 2006, 8:45 a.m. CST

    There was a movie of Terabithia already

    by Nozoki

    Annette O'Toole as the teacher. I recall it not being very good. Hope this one can make me weep like the book did. My favorite book from childhood by far.