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“HOMEWORK” | writer-director, Gavin Wiesen

[PREMIERE SCREENING: Sunday, Jan. 23, 11:30 am — Library Center Theatre]

The biggest surprise for me as I made this movie was how satisfying an experience it was working with my cast. I was very happy about who we had cast, but I didn’t know them beyond their previous work, and in some cases a meeting or two. As the production started coming together I was comfortable with how most aspects of the movie were shaping up: I knew what the challenges were going to be, and I had a firm grasp of what I was going for. The great unknown was what it was going to be like working with the actors, especially the younger ones, and young ones of such a high caliber and level of experience. You could maybe say I was feeling a little intimidated about it.

My first feeling was of relief at how hard-working and professional Freddie [Highmore] and Emma [Roberts] were. They both grew up working on huge movies, and the fact that they were tireless and uncomplaining and fun under difficult and uncomfortable circumstances endeared them to me right away. Very quickly that was replaced by the pleasure of working with such talented actors. It was exciting to witness their abilities at work and to see them respond to my direction or make my words come alive with a passion for the characters. Perhaps the biggest thrill was when they brought things to scenes that I hadn’t anticipated — there are gestures and moments in the film that, as I watch it, I silently thank them for having come up with in the moment and that I now can’t imagine the scenes without.

The same holds true for the rest of my cast: Michael Angarano, Elizabeth Reaser, Sam Robards, Alicia Silverstone, Rita Wilson and Blair Underwood. They all worked for a handful of days each, and the inventiveness and dedication with which they were all invested in their characters — and in being there for little pay on a small movie with not enough days, crazy hours and an occasionally chaotic schedule — was a nice surprise. And a happy lesson.

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