Let’s talk about other children who are not us—the kids in your film are so talented, it’s quite intimidating. Shoutout to Alexander Bello of John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch in particular. I’d love to hear about the way that you work with the kids, and specifically, the way that it feels like there’s no kind of barrier with age. Every single person of every age in the film feels as intimidating and hilarious as the next.
MG: The hardest thing when pitching this movie was that no one understood how we could have kids improvise. But that was something that we all knew in our hearts, that they were going to be able to kill on such a deep level. We didn’t think of them as children, we found the best actors possible. They were so fucking committed to their roles, and we treated them like the true artists that they are. They knew their roles so deeply and showed up in such an intense way and made us have to step up.
BP: A lot of them had seen the short we made that the film was based on, they were so in on the tone and understood the world they were in. Plus they were all real theater kids. It was important to us that they all know these teachers, these rooms, these rehearsals, they know the world. Theater is really the great equalizer, in the sense that we did shows with kids of all ages, and suddenly you’re playing opposite a fourteen-year-old and you’re seven. Everyone is an actor, and you get treated as a professional. That’s how you grow.
MG: Also, this younger generation is just so much smarter than us, so much more well-informed.
BP: Better aesthetic.
MG: We should have left and let them run the ship.
I don’t want to look back at photos of myself from that age, doing theater, but I look at all these kids today and think, “You’re so cool.” They already carry themselves in the way I hope to carry myself ten years from now.
MG: I think they feel like they can be their authentic selves, and I’m still struggling to do that. Alex is so in himself already. That’s inspiring to be around, to look at a thirteen-year-old and be like, I wish I was as mature as you.