When you think of retirement, you think Florida - everyone does it; it's nearly the only option. Well, there's a little community in Boynton Beach where director Susan Seidelman's mother and father live.
Susan's mother, Florence, noticed over time a great movie idea for her daughter - The Boynton Beach Bereavement Club. One of Florence's friends changed his life and re-discovered life and love after 50 years.
It's not every day that you listen to your parents and it becomes a movie. Well, that's exactly what happened in this situation; they made a movie about a group of seniors who find love again. We spoke with Susan Seidelman about working on the film and with her mom.
Here's what she had to say:
So the concept for this movie came out of a phone call from your mom?
Susan Seidelman: Yeah, it really did; about eight years ago, my parents moved down to Boynton Beach. I guess about two and a half years ago - and I've been making movies for about 20 years now - and over those 20 years, she's approached me with different ideas that she thinks would make great movies. Sometimes I liked them, sometimes I didn't think they were right for me. But this time, two and a half years ago, for this one, when she started to tell me about it, this light bulb went off in my head because I thought this was a really good idea that would make a really good movie and that was happening in real life that no one was really talking about in terms of movies.
What did she say that caught your attention this time?
Susan Seidelman: She told me about a friend who had passed away, and her friend's husband was devastated, obviously. He went to this bereavement group, and little by little would tell my mother what it was like being in this group. And as the months rolled along, she noticed this huge change in him; he wasn't a real social guy, but after a few months, he's going out for coffee with women and then little by little dating again. And no disrespect to his wife who had passed away, but over the months, this world of single seniors would open up and he would start to tell my mother these stories what it was like to date after 40 years. And they ran the gamut of what they were weird anecdotes and awkward moments; and it wasn't that different than what it was like to date as teenagers.
When you were writing the script, or making the movie, were you thinking about who your target audience would be?
Susan Seidelman: Here's what I thought - if it was funny or touching, I think that when I went to the movies when I was younger, I didn't go because the people were my age. I'm hoping the older crowd will go see it and appreciate be able to catch the moments of recognition. It might not be geared to the teenage boys, but I'm hoping the 30-year-olds and the 40-year-olds will like it because it'll be curious what their parents are going through or just they'll just relate to it on a purely human level.
Well, you do have nudity in the movie; was Sally (Kellerman) cool with that?
Susan Seidelman: Well, she's always been a brave actress, and certainly she's beared her breasts before - and she still looks pretty good. That was in the script, and I sent it to her - I was wondering what she thought. And she was fine with it, and she didn't have a problem with it because it felt real; there wasn't any exploitation of it. We weren't doing it for shock effect; it was about two people who were getting into bed for the first time with a new person in 40 years. And I wanted it to come out with all its awkwardness; I wanted it to be touching, and funny, and awkward all at the same time.
When I was watching the film, I didn't realized Dyan Cannon was almost 70 years old; she looks fantastic! Was she your first choice for the role?
Susan Seidelman: For that role, I made a list of people, a list of 5 people and she was one of them. She read it and she instantly called me and I thought that was a good sign; I wanted to work with her because she's still very sexy and she can be very funny. I wanted it to be funny and truthful, and have the characters reflect their age. But also, I want the audience to see someone they can relate to, weather it's 'my friend Sadie,' or 'it's myself.' I thought that Dyan had that humor that could bring the depth to the character.
And what about the granddaughter?
Susan Seidelman: Well, I didn't want the characters to just be in their 60's; often their children have issues with it - 'My dad is dating!' So I wanted different generations to show it from the two different perspectives. Ashley (Blackwell) hadn't been in a movie before; she was cast out of Florida, and was in 11th grade.
Can you relate to any of these characters?
Susan Seidelman: Well, my parents live down in Boynton Beach, so I've lived through them. What I related to and what I wanted to bring out to the film is the baby boomer generation are hitting their senior years, and it's about time we look at getting older. Old isn't what old used to be - and we needed to make a movie about those characters. I liked that some of them were being romantic, without being jokes.
What was the environment like shooting in Boynton Beach?
Susan Seidelman: It made it so much easier, and I don't think we could have shot it anywhere else. They don't shoot down there, and we got tremendous help from the community, and got tremendous help for shooting extras.
And what about working with your mom?
Susan Seidelman: My mom's a force of nature - when she's determined to do something, she's determined. I think there are things you want to do and say, and you better do it. She wasn't just a token producer to get a credit in the movie, she actually helped us get the extras and secure locations; she's on the road right now doing a Q&A with the PBS station in Philadelphia.
What was her reaction when she first saw the film?
Susan Seidelman: We all made this as a labor of love, but then your fingers are still crossed that this will have life beyond some Hanukah party or birthday party where you stick it in the DVD player. When we started realizing that there were people, who weren't friends and family, responding to the movie, for my mother, that was a real charge.
So for your next film, is your mom going to be involved again?
Susan Seidelman: She's already told me she has more story ideas, but I told her, 'Let's wait and see what happens on this one.' So I wouldn't let her tell me what the idea was; she'll roll with it, and the next thing I know is I'll be directing it next month. I told her to keep it and we'll see what happens.
What is next for you?
Susan Seidelman: Well, I'm a producer on this film, so unlike the other films you direct, you hand it over and that's it and they run with it. I'm still very much involved in that this gets out in the theaters and the markets and the cities it's supposed to. But I haven't had time to think about what I'm going to be doing next.
Are you excited about the LA premiere?
Susan Seidelman: I am excited, but a little nervous. I've seen it with audiences, and the reaction it's been getting, I'm happy with it. It's intended to be about a fun time, but a subject that needs to be looked at. But I'm looking for tonight!
And you can see what all the excitement is about when The Boynton Beach Bereavement Club opens in limited theaters August 4th, and then nationwide on August 18th.