Measure of a Man – Interviews with Author, Screenwriter, Director and Lead Actor
"From Director Jim Loach and based on the novel by Robert Lipsyte, MEASURE OF A MAN follows a bullied teen, who experiences a turning point summer in which he learns to stand up for himself. Starring Blake Cooper, Judy Greer, Donald Sutherland and Luke Wilson."
Author Robert Lipsyte, Screenwriter David Scearce, Director Jim Loach and lead actor Blake Cooper chatted with Selig Film News about the original book, the film and much more!
"During the summer of 1976, fourteen-year-old Bobby Marks (Blake Cooper), insecure and overweight, must endure another tortuous family vacation at Rumson Lake. His summer job, tending to the palatial estate of the reclusive, enigmatic and overly demanding Dr. Kahn (Donald Sutherland) is backbreaking. His parents (Judy Greer & Luke Wilson) appear on the verge of divorce; his sister Michelle (Liana Liberato) is forcing him to help conceal her clandestine rendezvous with the local pretty boy; and his best friend and kindred spirit Joanie (Danielle Rose Russell) is leaving for a month and won’t tell him why. On top of that, a crazy townie has focused his hatred of the rich “summer people” exclusively on Bobby. Over the course of this emotional rollercoaster of a summer, secrets are revealed, lessons are learned and Bobby comes to understand who he is and what makes up the true measure of a man."
Measure of a Man – Out In Theaters – Interviews with Selig Film News:
Author Robert Lipsyte shared stories about his sport writing, the inspiration for "One Fat Summer", his writing process and even entertained my question about his fondest Muhammad Ali moment!
Screenwriter David Scearce was kind enough to complete a questionnaire about his work on Measure of a Man.
1. Your choice to switch from the 50's, of Robert's novel, to the 70's is bold. I personally love the tie in to the bicentennial as a great summer of change. Is there a particular 70s reference you are happy that made it into the film?
There were a couple of reasons for moving the setting to the 70s. My script had a more nostalgic quality than what was in the book and I felt that Stand By Me had already occupied the field for the nostalgic 1950s coming of age film. Plus, I thought that the 70s music and clothes would be more fun to see explored. I think my favorite bit of 70s in the film was Bobby dancing to Soul Train.
2. I most remember reading Robert from his editorial and sports writing. Outside of reading One Fat Summer, in high school, are you a fan of any of his other work?
After A Single Man, One Fat Summer kind of jumped out at me as something I wanted to tackle and I wasn’t immediately aware of the sequels. When I started working on adapting One Fat Summer I deliberately avoided reading the sequels so as to not be influenced by what Robert had done with Bobby after this novel.
3. When writing the script did you look back at the book for any particular inspiration or did you go off your memory of the book?
Writers who do adaptation have many different approaches. For me, I like to honor some of the author’s best stuff so I do look to the book in the writing process.
4. What was it like working with Jim? What days or scenes are you most proud about?
Seeing your work being filmed is interesting because, as Jim often said to me, half of the film is made in the editing room. I remember standing on what was Dr. Kahn’s lawn on the first day of filming – a beautiful oceanfront estate in Rhode Island – and feeling a wave of pride seeing everyone set up for the day's filming: “All this is happening because of me.” (Actually, because of Robert Lipsyte, but indulge me my egocentric moment.) It was great being so much more involved this time.
5. How much of the final script made it on screen?
Unfortunately, we only got about 2/3 of the budget that we needed so we ended up having to make some cuts that I was sad to see go, but I think Jim and the rest of the crew managed to make the film look like so much more than we had to spend.
6. Outside of the Bobby character is there another character's story that you liked seeing come to life on screen?
One of the aspects of this adaptation that I liked best was being able to flesh out all of the characters more than what was in the book, giving them all their own motivations that weren’t as evident (or necessary) in the book. With the budget cuts, not all of it was able to make it to the screen but I think it’s still evident in many small ways.
7. What was you experience like with Donald Sutherland? And on the flip side your experience of seeing a young talent like Blake tackle carry the full film.
Donald, of course, is one the great actors of his generation and it was wonderful to watch him working. For example, in his last scene, he gave six very different performances so that Jim would have that much more to work with in the editing room. Blake was a natural for this role and handled himself with the maturity of someone who has been at it for a long time, particularly since Jim is the sort of director who gives the actors a lot of leeway in their performances.
8. Has working with Tom Ford and now with Jim peaked your interest in directing? What filmmakers inspire you the most?
Writing for film entails giving up a lot of control to the director. It’s inevitable that they will disappoint you with some things that you wouldn’t have done, but they’ll also surprise you with other things. You just hope for more of the latter than the former. Like many writers, I’d love one day to direct something that I write.
9. Does being an executive producer on this film change your experience, how so?
I was much more involved in the choices on this film than my last one and being on the set as the film unfolded made me appreciate the process so much more. Not just on the creative side, but on the business side too. Without the tireless efforts of our producer, Christian Taylor, this film never would have been made. It came together and fell apart several times over the years, but he doggedly stuck with it and pulled it all together. It’s always a small miracle when a film gets made.
10. Lastly, Robert extended the summer YA novels into a full trilogy. Would you enjoy carrying Bobby's story into a tv show or another film?
We actually talked about that a little on set. I’d gladly continue to explore Bobby’s world if there was interest in it.
Director Jim Loach crossed the pond to make this coming of aged story. Jim expanded on turning the script into film, the gathering of such a fine cast, and broke down a few sequences from the movie. He also talked about his beloved Arsenal soccer team, his talented team he works with and gave us a heads up to what's next for the director.
Talented young actor Blake Cooper carries Measure of a Man as the lead character Bobby Marks. Blake and I talked about working with an icon like Donald Sutherland, the bold nature of the role, his strong support team, and even insight into his approach.
The film is opening on May 11th in NY, LA and in 20 other major cities nationwide. It's being distributed by Great Point Media Limited.