While Olivia Wilde is no stranger to the silver screen, it wasn’t until this year that she decided to add the title of “director” to her impressive resume. Hitting theaters on May 24th, Wilde’s feature film, Booksmart, has already generated positive buzz following its SXSW premiere last month. Dubbed the “Breakthrough Director of the Year” at CinemaCon, Wilde took some time to share her thoughts with press on this exciting next step of her career.

On the plot of her upcoming feature, Booksmart

“It’s intended to be anthemic for this generation. It’s a film that’s supposed to be similar to the way Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Dazed and Confused, The Breakfast Club, and Clueless were for all of us. It’s a film that embraces the new generation, which is all about fluidity, intelligence, politics incorporated into day to day life, and smart being badass. It’s my love letter to all of the things that make this generation truly wonderful.”

On the challenges of directing a comedy film

“The thing that is most challenging about making a film, especially a comedy, is that it’s entirely subjective. You are making something that you want audiences to love and experience together but you can’t claim that everyone will love a certain joke or resonate with a certain character or emotion. You just have to make it personal. I always think about Quentin Tarantino’s quote, ‘make the movie only you can make.’ I take that to heart. If anyone else can tell the story, it’s not worth telling. Booksmart was my story that I wanted to tell in the way that only I could tell it along with the most extraordinary group of collaborators.”

On her casting process for Booksmart 

“In terms of casting, I really got lucky. I had Beanie Feldstein and Kaitlyn Dever on my Booksmart vision board for a long time before they ever knew about the project and I was incredibly lucky that I was working for a studio that supported my casting ideas. I also had the best casting director in the business, Allison Jones, who has defined generations of comedy by casting everything from The Office to Freaks and Geeks, so I was able to find a lot of new talent. The two lead actresses were my dream actresses for the roles and I was able to convince them to do it. Kaitlyn actually had been attached to the project before and I convinced her to stay on with me on board and then Beanie was just my dream Molly. I was just so adamant that she be the one and I’m just so lucky that she was.”

Credit: Madeline Knutson

On Booksmart’s on-set environment…

“For me as an actress, I thought ‘what if I could create the set I always wanted to work on?’ I think particularly working with young actresses, I wanted to make them feel nurtured, supported, comforted, and lifted up in a way that I think a lot of actresses haven’t felt on set because they haven’t always been the healthiest environments for young women.”

On the lessons she will take with her to future directing projects…

“For me, the learning curve was in post-production because I spent half of my life on set. I had a certain amount of experience with pre-production but it was a challenge learning to truly embrace evolution in the editing process. You have to understand that your film will be an entirely different film than the one you set out to make and embrace that fully. Our film has a completely different opening shot than I thought it would have. There’s chunks taken out of the middle and parts of the second act that were removed that I thought were essential but when I put it all together, realized that I didn’t need. We had a true embarrassment of riches and I think that’s what most directors find when they get into the editing room. I think if I learned anything for the next time, it’s to give myself the time necessary to allow for that evolution. Also, to ask for a longer sound mix. You always want a longer sound mix.”

About The Author

Madeline Knutson is an Entertainment Journalist and Pop Culture Expert for Blast Magazine.

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