HomeDIY Craft‘Bottoms’ and the Tricky Tone of a Horror-Indie-Drama-Action-Teen-Sex Comedy

‘Bottoms’ and the Tricky Tone of a Horror-Indie-Drama-Action-Teen-Sex Comedy

In “Below,” a pair of teenagers start a fight club in their high school gym. The twist: The boxers are gay, and they’ve been whaling at each other — under the guise of self-defense — as a way to attract the hottest cheerleaders. (This is satire on many levels.)

Writer-director Emma Seligman had the idea and sold the script – to Elizabeth Banks’ production company – before her feature debut, “Shiva Baby,” Put him on the indie filmmaker map in 2021.

“I really love teen adventure movies, and giving gay kids a chance to be included in that story,” Seligman said in a phone interview.

Seligman, 28, grew up in Toronto in a family of film lovers. “Everyone here always talks about films,” he said. At age 10, she was a judge at a children’s film festival; Later she joined the Toronto International Film Festival. He studied the subject at New York University, where he met two of the “Bottoms” stars – Rachel Sennott (who co-wrote the film) and ayo adebiri, a breakout actress from “The Bear”. (Seligman has an eye for talent: “Bottoms” also includes Nicholas Galitzine.Red, White and Royal Blue,” as a quarterback boyfriend; and former NFL player Marshawn Lynch as a teacher with questionable methods.)

“Shiva Baby”, about a young woman who encounters her sugar daddy in a shiva, was based on Seligman’s experience of Jewish life and her college environment. “I went on a sugar date,” she said. “Not everyone was doing it, but a lot of people were doing it to the point that it was very common.” (Ultimately it was not his point.) The “Bottoms”, though it exists in a lofty world, is also personal. “It’s just a desire to see yourself,” said Seligman, who is gay. As he recalled Banks telling him: “You can’t underestimate how much young people want to see themselves on screen.”

These are edited excerpts from the conversation.

“Shiva Baby” had a smaller cast and was essentially a set piece. The “Bottoms” have one group and several locations. How did you prepare for the big move?

The jump was quite challenging. I knew I had a million lessons to learn, but I didn’t know what they were going to be. It’s like you know you’re going to be in danger, but don’t know how.

I tried to talk to as many directors as I could to get their advice – Adam McKay, Greg Berlanti, who directed “Love, Simon,” and Atom Egoyan. It was helpful, but most of them were like, “You never know until you do it.” I went to [Elizabeth Banks’s] At home before the shoot, and we talked about dress and hair and improv – it wasn’t her giving didactic advice. I was just asking: “As a director, how do you prepare to do this?” And everyone was saying, stop asking questions. Stop wandering in your mind.

Rachel Sennot has acted in both of your films. What clicked with both of you?

None of us were in industry or came from industry families. His ambition and level of organization and his intense work ethic was truly inspiring. It’s an absurd thing to be like, “I’m going to spend all my time writing two screenplays when there’s nothing in the world that tells me it’ll work.” His energy was: “It’s not madness, we’ll do it, and we’ll make a living.” It is very rare that someone wants to see you succeed more than they want to see themselves successful.

How did you envision Ayo Adebiri in this role?

I met Ayo at a party before I met Rachel. I had a vague idea of ​​”bottoms” in my head. And I was like, “Oh, if I ever made that high school movie, that girl would be so funny in it.” It is really unbelievable to see him rising towards success. It doesn’t come as a surprise to me at all, but I kinda feel like I have street credibility because I say, “Yeah, I knew.” He is very funny. We finished “Bottoms” and a month later “The Bear” came out and his world changed.

Where did you want to focus your sarcasm?

Just like the quirky teen characters in teen movies are always very innocent. Whether they’re going through a stroke or finding love, they’re very sweet and often don’t have any sexual thoughts at all – or if they do, they’re not expressing it, or they Not talking in an obscene manner. And we also wanted to satirize the way female friendships are often shoved down our throats onscreen with teenage girls — characters who are like, “I love you, Queen! I love you, Queen!” You are the best thing ever!” We wanted to make fun of him.

“Bottoms” is based on several teen movie canons, starting with “Heathers”. What else did you use as reference?

We came out of that era of the ’90s – I think “Heathers” is the ’80s – but that kind of female, campy, driven, high school and murder. [comedy],

“bring it on” It was a great reference. That movie delivers such a beautiful tone of campiness while caring deeply about the characters – it’s just over the edge. “pen 15,” Sure — considering the show is about female friendship this beautiful, it was so funny and stupid at the same time, and so relatable, too. It came to the fore right after we started writing. ,wet hot american summer“It was huge. There is no murder in this. But he gets addicted to heroin throughout the day. And it’s got Liz, which is great.

How did you find the right tone?

It took a long time to find out. I don’t think Rachel and I originally intended for the audience to care that much about the characters. We really felt like in female comedies, there was too much emphasis on “care about these girls” and “care about the friendship.” we wanted to give female characters a chance to [terrible] That you shouldn’t care about them at all. But I think over the years, as we got notes from our producers or studios, we loosened up a bit.

I really think that mastering vocals is always the hardest thing to do. And I would love to do a movie one day that’s just one genre, to see if it’s easier than what we did, horror-indie-dramedy-action-teen-sex-comedy, or whatever.


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