Sunday, June 5, 2011

Interview: Actress Jordana Beatty and screenwriter Megan McDonald talk ‘Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer'

Read Shockya's roundtable interview with 12-year-old Australian actress Jordana Beatty and screenwriter Megan McDonald about their upcoming Relativity Media comedy film ‘Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer.’ The movie, in which Beatty portrays the title character, is based on McDonald’s book series ‘Judy Moody’. The family-friendly film follows Judy as she finds out her best friends Rocky (portrayed by Garrett Ryan) and Amy (played by Taylar Hender) and her parents are all leaving town for the summer. Judy is forced to stay home with her second best friend Frank (portrayed by Preston Bailey), her younger brother Stink (played by Parris Mosteller) and their Aunt Opal (portrayed by Heather Graham), who they never met before. To keep the summer interesting, Judy comes up with a thrill points competition. Beatty and McDonald discuss with us, among other things, some of the challenges in making the film, and whether or not they felt pressured to please the fans of the book series.

Written by: Karen Benardello

Question (Q): Megan, when you were adapting the book to the screenplay, what were some of the changes made to get the story to the screen?

Megan McDonald (MM): Well, actually, I didn’t base it on any one book from the series. I decided to do a whole new adventure for Judy Moody, and summer is the first compelling idea. I thought it would be so much fun to do a summer film and go back to the way my own childhood summers were. So that was sort of the the initial inspiration. But the books mostly take place during the school year, so there’s a lot of stuff from Judy Moody Saves the World in it. The story itself is just a story.

Q: Were there any challenges during the film?

MM: The screenplay was a very challenging thing, because I had only ever written one screenplay.

Q: What about for you, Jordana?

Jordana Beatty (JB): Well, besides having to cut my hair, that was a challenge. That was probably the hardest.

MM: What about the roller coaster scene?

JB: That was a challenge, a personal challenge, because I was very scared.

MM: She’s never been on a roller coaster before. I wouldn’t even go on it, it was so scary. They had a stunt double who they were thinking of putting in. The stunt double cried and went home! (laughs) Jordana’s very brave.

Q: That seems like it would be the funnest part, amusement parks and roller coasters, you think every just loves them.

MM: Well, the funny part is, we didn’t have any extras that day, because all the crew guys wanted to on. (laughs)

Q: It sounds like you overcame your fear Jordana.

JB: Yeah, I still went on it.

Q: Is there anything else that you encountered in filming that was challenging?

MM: What about doing an American accent?

JB: I guess it wasn’t a challenge. But it sort of came kind of easily, so it wasn’t really a challenge.

MM: Besides the roller coaster, what do you think the hardest scene was?

JB: The tightrope scene.

MM: You loved the tightrope.

Q: Was the tightrope the most fun to film?

JB: Yeah, it was really high, that was great.

Q: When you were filming the movie, did you feel any pressure to please the fans of the books?

MM: I guess I wouldn’t really say pressured as much as hoping and really wanting the fans to feel they’re going to know Judy right away and enter into that familiar world. So all of the little things of Judy Moody, her mood ring, all her collections. She has her “ABC” gum collection on the wall. Her Judy Moody outfit, or costume, is the classic one from the book, where she has tiger stripe pajama bottoms and her shark shirt, which the designer said was very challenging. They couldn’t find any fabric that looked right and matched the book. Judy’s room, they outfitted to look just like it did in the books. So a lot of attention was paid to those details. I think the film will be really funny even if you don’t know Judy Moody, but I think it’s going to be even more enriching if you do. You’re going to see and recognize so many things that you’ll know from the books.

JB: All of the collections and Stink (are in the books).

MM: Stink, the little brother, and Mouse the Cat.

To read the rest of this interview, please click here.

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