Sure, it's about losing your virginity -- but Jon Kasdan's new film, The First Time, is about something bigger: the thrill of the new that you used to get as a teen, when you'd escape the orbit of your own high school into the universe of another one, where no one knew who you were.
"There was a lot of excitement in that -- in being with people who haven't known you since grade school," Kasdan says by telephone. "You meet someone new, someone who doesn't know you. And you're able to redefine yourself to each other."
The First Time, opening in limited release on Friday October 19, focuses on two high school students -- Dave (Dylan O'Brien) and Aubrey (Brittany Robertson) -- who meet at a party at which each hoped to see someone else. They wind up talking -- and talking and talking. Sparks are struck; can they ignite a romance that lasts beyond that night?
"It's a movie that wears its heart on its sleeve, which is really not what's happening right now," Kasdan admits. But he was able to make it, he says, because he purposely wrote it to be made inexpensively. Which meant he could do it the way he wanted to and was not under pressure to cast well-known actors in the central roles.
"I wanted to write something I could make no matter what," says Kasdan, whose last film, 2007's In the Land of Women, cost $10 million and starred Adam Brody, Kristen Stewart and Meg Ryan. "I thought, even if I have to get a video camera and shoot it in the alley with two kids, I can make this. And then Castle Rock got behind it and they were very gung-ho."
Casting the central roles was challenging: While Kasdan found "an embarrassment of riches" among young actresses for Aubrey, he had trouble finding a young male that seemed right for the role of Dave.
"Certain actors were ambivalent about playing this virginal boy," he says. "It was very threatening to their masculinity.
This interview continues on my website.