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‘Honey Boy’ Producer Talks Taking A Chance On Shia LaBeouf – The Contenders NY Video

[WATCH] 'Honey Boy' Producer Talks Taking

Debuting nearly a year ago at Sundance, Alma Ha’rel’s Honey Boy has been one of the indie hits of 2019. Scripted by Shia LaBeouf, it tells the story of a troubled young actor (played at different ages by Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges) who reflects on his life as a child star while serving time in rehab for a DUI offence. Directly inspired by LaBeouf’s own past, Honey Boy doubles down on its self-referential nature by having the writer play the boy’s controlling father.

At Deadline’s recent The Contenders New York, producer Daniela Taplin Lundberg recalled how the project came to her. “I had started my own production company about three years ago,” she said. “I’d raised my own private equity, and the purpose of it was to sort of take shots on filmmakers that maybe traditional Hollywood investors wouldn’t. A friend sent me the script and said, ‘You must read this. It’s amazing. One caveat: Shia wrote this in rehab, he is recently out, and Alma wants to make this film.’

“I had met with Alma about a year before and I had been a great admirer of her work and I thought she should take that leap into narrative features. And so I read it over a weekend and I was completely frightened because it was so good and I knew that I was going to have to do it.”

The fear was based on LaBeouf. “I spoke to my partners on it, Chris Leggett and Brian Kavanaugh-Jones,” Lundberg continued, “and I said, ‘I need to sit with Shia in a room. I need to look him in the eye and know that he’s going to show up for work.’ Because not many people were willing to take a risk on him at that point. So I flew out to LA. Alma brought Shia in and he told the whole story of how the writing of this was something that he did as a form of rehabilitation in rehab. He didn’t even know it was a script — it was the only way he knew how to write. And he said, ‘I promise you, if you make this movie, I will show up every day. I will be the first one there, and it’s going to save my life.’ I swear to you, everyone in the room started crying, because he was so honest.”

The film’s dual time frame caused problems for the technical team, especially cinematographer, who was joined on the Amazon panel at the DGA Theater by production designer JC Molina and editor Monica Salazar.

“We wanted to create a look that was a space between reality and memory, and dream and therapy,” Braier told the crowd of Academy and guild voters. “We were trying to be very grounded in reality and capture the performances in a kind of documentary way, almost like [we were in the] background, so the camera would never manipulate the scene — we wouldn’t tell the actors where to go or what to do, and we were not trying to anticipate what was happening. We would just capture whatever happened. But, at the same time we wanted the lighting to be more stylized than a documentary. [We wanted to] be in this kind of ambiguous world between memory, dreams, and therapy processing. That part of it was a lot easier than capturing the reality, in a way. The challenge was to have both at the same time.”

For more of the conversation click on the video above.

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