We all know high school proms sometimes get a little crazy. However, Disney’s Prom seems to have the students all under control. How is it done, you ask? Director Joe Nussbaum tells all at a recent press conference we attended earlier this month.
Q: How imperative was it to avoid such teen films clichés as booze and bad behavior and the big party scene? Was it hard to sell a film predicated more on emotional reality, self-actualization and honesty than it was a film with a big party scene?
Joe Nussbaum: It wasn’t hard to sell at Disney at all. That’s what they wanted to make. You know, the script came to me, and it was a script focused on prom for Disney. And, immediately questions like that popped into my head. You know, there is obviously an element of high school that involves that type of behavior and those things. And, I knew going in that that wasn’t what we were going to deal with. And as I opened the script and as I read through it, I totally got that what this film does instead is it tackles what it feels like to be in high school and what it feels like to go through the emotions that go with prom and go with dating, and go with falling love or falling out of love or having a crush. And I think that that there is so much to that. It’s such a rich topic to be mined whether it’s angst or whether it’s euphoria or whether it’s all those emotional things that you don’t need that other stuff to go with it to hopefully make a really involving movie.
Q: I have a big follow up with that part of the decision. I think like maybe there will be one shot of cell phone filmed with enough slang to, in fact, kept the film from being so [SOUNDS LIKE] overall that the second release would be instantly dated?
Joe Nussbaum: Absolutely. That is something I thought about it with slang for sure. As far as the technology, and you’re not the first person who’s mentioned that. I mean, there are cell phones in the movie. They are more incidental. For example, in the scene where the shed has burned down, every third background player is holding up a cell phone and taking a picture of it or shooting video of it. It doesn’t necessarily jump out at you. You know, there’s a couple of scenes where characters are texting in the background. Someone is on a Facebook page at one point. The way I see it is I don’t need to show kids on computers or texting or doing that type of stuff just for them to buy it. They know that’s life. They know that’s what happens.
And this movie is about the personal interactions that happen in between those interactions with technology. And on the slang front, that was definitely a conscious choice. I talked to a lot of teenagers heading into this movie, did the research, went to proms, went to high schools, went to different high school sporting events. And for the most part, teenagers talk like we do. They speak like regular human beings. They don’t have a long litany of crazy unintelligible slang. I think that is actually more of a Hollywood construction than anything. And then, the other reason to not go with any weird slang is for the hope that it won’t get too dated.