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BOOKSMART

About The Film
Booksmart is a fresh, unfiltered, original comedy and coming-of-age tale about your high school ride-or-die. "From the beginning, my take on the story was that high school has extremely high stakes," says director Olivia Wilde. "When you're in it, high school feels like life or death. I wanted to approach this film the same way a director would approach a high-octane action movie," continues Wilde. "I wanted it to feel like a buddy cop movie, where it's about partners who have each other's backs no matter what. They can be very different people who can support each other, complete each other, but within a high-stakes environment. We took inspiration from Beverly Hills Cop, Training Day and Lethal Weapon. Basically, Booksmart is a relationship movie, set in a high school environment that reflects just how high the stakes truly are during that period of our lives."

At its heart, Booksmart is a story about the breadth and depth of female friendship. "I was very happy that this movie was being made, even before I thought I even had a chance in hell of being part of it," recalls Wilde. "I was just grateful that someone was making a story about female friendship that wasn't about them just trying to get a guy or trying to assimilate."

"The movie isn't about two nerdy girls who just want to dress up like popular girls and somehow bag the popular guy," continues Wilde. "It's a story about the friendship between two young girls which for most women at that age is their first intimate relationship before they move on into adulthood. It's an intense bond, and it's something that most of us can reflect upon and think, 'How did that friendship inform my identity and my future relationships?'

"And yet, it's also break-up movie because these girls have to say goodbye to each other," adds Wilde. "They have to set each other free. They have become almost one living, breathing being, and now it's time for them to separate and set forth on their own journey. That's not easy to do. In this movie, we're telling the story about these girls at a pivotal moment in their lives, which happens to be a fun and exciting adventure."

"I was a lot like Molly and Amy in high school (admittedly much more like Molly)," says producer David Distenfeld. "I related to their anxieties, their intensity and their friendship. It's rare that teens are portrayed in such an honest, smart, funny and mature way."

Like Distenfeld, the story resonated with producer Jessica Elbaum's own teenage years of self-discovery. "For me, this one was super special because I had a similar high school experience," says Elbaum. "These are the characters and world that I know all too well, and so, I have a soft spot for coming-of-age stories."

Just like Molly and Amy confronting whether they can escape their high school labels, the producers were excited to make a movie that confronted those same high school movie labels. "I thought that this film is such an honest and truthful take on high school today and what these kids are going through," says Elbaum. "Trying to fit in when you are labeled as different. I wanted to explore that with this film."

Wilde embraced her directorial debut with a contagious enthusiasm and creativity that easily convinced the producers that she was the perfect choice to helm this project. "Olivia and I have been friends for years," says Elbaum. "I was looking for a director for Booksmart, and I knew she had previously directed music videos. And then, I had one of those moments, where I thought she was the perfect person to direct this film. Olivia read the script and immediately said, 'I'm in.' She pitched her concept of the film to the Annapurna team and they loved it."

In Wilde, the producers had a director with an uncanny intuitive sense about the characters and a unique storytelling perspective. "Olivia really understood these girls and their friendship, and she recognized immediately what it would take for a story like this to feel cinematic," states Distenfeld. "Beyond being exceptionally smart and funny, she has such a keen ear for what feels real - always looking for emotional and comedic moments without selling out the characters. She knows what it's like to be a young actor and how to encourage a great performance from someone at that age."

The evolution of the story was an organic process that required a dexterous writer who not only understood the filmmaker's vision but could also capture and convey the high school experience in a fun and meaningful way. "One of the most important parts of the film's equation is writer Katie Silberman," says Wilde. "Katie came on board to rewrite the script and linked arms with me to tell the story in a way that was responsive to everything that was evolving as we put it together. With each newly introduced element from the locations to the sets to the actors, she rewrote the script to reflect these changes and made the story far better than I ever imagined possible."

Working alongside Wilde to create this chaotic and complex world of teens, Silberman found a true kindred spirit. "It's been the most fun I've ever had, developing this script with Olivia," says Silberman. "She brought so many ideas and is such a wonderful collaborator," continues Silberman. "She's open to everyone's input. I feel lucky to have been able to contribute to her vision. She created this incredible environment where everyone got to feel like best friends while making a movie about best friends."

For Silberman, being a part of Booksmart was a high school dream come true. "I was the girl who didn't party in high school, so it's a lot of wish fulfillment as to what I might have done the last night of school if I hadn't been at home," says Silberman. "I wish I could have seen this film when I was in high school."

When it came time to cast the Crockett High School senior ensemble, the filmmakers wanted to break the stereotypes. "Allison Jones our casting director has long been revered as one of the greatest casting directors in the business," says Wilde. "From Freaks and Geeks to Superbad to Lady Bird, she has an eye for young talent who exude a certain essence that is authentic, honest and unique."

"A lot of times these films are just a series of stereotypes consisting of the nerdy girl, hot guy and the like," continues Wilde. "I wanted people who came at it with a different perspective. And Allison was able to put together a list of talent who had that special quality, none of whom were famous. I loved being able to give these actors a chance to show me what made them different as opposed to trying to put them into boxes. Our cast is comprised of young people who saw their character in a different light. That's what I wanted, and I'm so grateful."

From the beginning, everyone knew they couldn't make this movie without casting a duo of believable best friends. The story lives and dies on the chemistry of Molly and Amy, and Wilde found the perfect duo in Beanie Fedstein and Kaitlyn Dever.

Kaitlyn Dever's character Amy is the social justice warrior with a heart of gold pining for the girl she tutors. "Amy is very sweet and innocent who has a by-the-book approach to life," explains Dever. "She supports a lot of causes and after graduation plans to go to Africa to help women. When it comes to fighting for others, Amy is a pit bull, but when it comes to her own interests, she isn't very courageous."

"Amy decides to go on that journey with Molly because she wants to flirt with her crush, Ryan," continues Dever. "She never had the courage to go up and talk to her, and if she doesn't try now, she will never know what could have been. And so, through the course of the movie, Molly teaches her how to stand up for herself and be strong."

Dever appreciated that Amy being gay was not the focal point of her story arc. "The gay character in a lot of films, even today, have to have a coming out story. But in Booksmart, the coming out part of the story is about Molly revealing to Amy that she likes Nick, which is not usually the case. That's what was so awesome about this movie, and another aspect that drew me to the film because that never happens."

To bring Amy to life, Dever drew from female musical influences as well as her own personal experiences. "I listened to a lot of Helen Reddy and Alanis Morissette to start with," recalls Dever. "I told Olivia that I played the Autoharp and we incorporated that into the character."

"Most importantly, I wanted Amy to feel as real as possible - a teenager with real struggles, ups and downs, parent issues, problems with authority figures," continues Dever. "Someone who wants to stand-up for herself, but can't, and then realizing that she can in the end with the support of her best friend. That's why I've loved playing her so much."

For Wilde, Dever was the perfect embodiment of Amy. "Kaitlyn was attached before I became a part of this project and I was delighted," says Wilde. "I've always been a fan of hers. Short Term 12 was astonishing and I loved her in Men, Women & Children. She's got something so special about her. She's so smart but doesn't have to work very hard to prove it. Like Amy, she also has a vulnerability that is just right below the surface at all times coupled with her incredible comedic timing and quick, dry wit."

Dever saw many of Amy's attributes in herself. "I am very similar to my character," says Dever. "When I was in high school, I was the cool one, but I also liked homework. I loved turning in work, taking tests and getting good grades." She also notices a little bit of Molly in herself as well. "I like to party. So, in that respect, I'm more like Molly."

What struck Dever the most about Booksmart was the friendship between Amy and Molly. "What stood out to me the most when I first read the movie was the bond between these two characters," says Dever. "They're so close and it feels so real. They've been friends forever and would do anything for each other. They've only had each other growing up. I think they're almost like sisters."

"I haven't seen a movie in a while like this, where I think, 'Oh, that's like me and my best friend,'" continues Dever. "This movie reminds me a lot of the relationships and friends that I have in real life, and I think that's what's so special about this movie. Booksmart is a love story, when it comes down to it. It really is."

Beanie Feldstein's character Molly is a bonafide go-getter whose eyes are locked on the future and finds frivolity a waste of time. "Molly is an intensely academic human being," explains Feldstein. "She's the Valedictorian of her senior class. She's going to Yale. As much as she values Amy, she values schoolwork even more. She's very clear and very certain about what she wants in life. She wants to become a Supreme Court Justice and she sees the exact steps that she needs to get there. She's not going to let anyone or anything break that path. Having fun is not part of the equation."

Feldstein enjoyed Molly's self-imposed constraints. "She constantly fights against different urges and that's been fun to play," says Feldstein. "If she's feeling joy in a certain moment, or a flirtation, or excitement, she feels the need to suppress it. I've enjoyed tapping into my stubborn intensity, which normally doesn't exist, to create that push and pull struggle within Molly."

In playing Molly, Feldstein was deeply moved with the way the film tackles preconceived notions of how we see one another. "The message of the film is that we all judge each other too quickly and we judge ourselves too quickly without knowing it," explains Feldstein. "We put ourselves in boxes and put others in boxes. During the course of the movie, Molly and Amy realize that they think of themselves as bright, inclusive girls, but in actuality they've been ostracizing a lot of people from their lives that they could have had as friends throughout their high school experience. Their classmates are guilty of judging them as well and come to the same conclusion. The film is a rallying cry for inclusivity and a cautious tale about not judging a book by its cover. We are all multidimensional and capable of being many things at once."

To embody Molly, Feldstein drew upon her own academic obsession as well as the love she feels towards her friends. "I can be very hyper-focused on things," states Feldstein. "Throughout my life, I went in and out of loving academia, but when I was in college, I was fiercely academic. I love that side of myself. So, it's been fun to portray that in Molly."

"She's also such a loving friend," continues Feldstein. "She loves Amy so hard, but, she expresses it differently from the way other people express their love for someone. When it comes to loving your friends intensely, that's something that I have in my bones."

Like Dever, Feldstein shared a similar affinity with both characters. "There are many aspects of me that are Molly," states Feldstein. "Molly's a perfectionist, and I'm a perfectionist. But, when it comes to going out, I'm the Amy. I'm the one to leave the party first."

Although contrary to her character's loathing of the theater scene, thespians hold a special place in Feldstein's heart. "I am a straight up theater nerd," says Feldstein. "In high school, if there was a play, I was in it. Molly hates the theater kids in the movie. So, it was fun hating on my people, but secretly thinking, 'I'm one of you, but not right now.'"

To find the perfect person to portray Molly, Wilde looked no further than Feldstein. "Molly is one of my favorite characters I've ever read in a script," says Wilde. "Beanie was my dream Molly from the beginning. She has an innate humanity and a real inner light that makes every character she plays shine. You sense a well of vulnerability beneath what she's created for Molly as a tough exterior. Molly is full of love even if she can't quite figure how to express it because she doesn't think she's worth being loved."

"What Beanie brought to this character is incredible," continues Wilde. "She has a sense of humility that I haven't seen much in this business. I'm blown away by her. She's a real triple threat - a superstar. Her range is limitless. I'm so lucky that we got her in this film. It's a dream come true."

Similarly, for Feldstein, she longed to be a part of Booksmart. "I'd read this script years ago and it was always in the back of my mind," recalls Feldstein. "Then, I got this call from my agent telling me that Olivia Wilde wants to have lunch with you. And I thought, 'How does she know who I am? That's insane.'"

"We met and had the greatest time," continues Feldstein. "I was so excited and honored that she thought of me for Molly." Landing the role of Molly was more than Feldstein could hope for, as she never imagined she would be sharing a scene with her all-time favorite actress - Lisa Kudrow. "I'm the number one Lisa Kudrow fan on this earth," says Feldstein. "I have a sticker of her on my computer. She was the literally one of the biggest things to ever happen to me. I find her to be the loveliest human being ever to exist. She is remarkable to watch."

"I'm such a fan that it was hard for me to function as a human being," continues Feldstein. "In one scene, I was lying on the bed, and the first thing that came to my mind, as I was fake strumming the autoharp, was one of Phoebe's songs on Friends, 'Monica, Monica, Have a Happy Hanukah.' In my head, I was singing this, and a kept telling myself, 'Beanie, if you sing that out loud I swear to god. Keep it together, Feldstein. Mother of God, do not mess this up.'"

With Molly and Amy being flip sides of the same coin, Feldstein and Dever decided to mirror their character's relationship by being roommates during production. "It was at Olivia's suggestion that we room together," says Feldstein. "And Kaitlyn and I looked at each other and said, 'Let's do it.' Living together has made us the best of friends. It's been wonderful. We love each other."

For Dever, the real-life friendship between the two of them contributed to the on-screen chemistry between Amy and Molly. "I think it made such a difference," states Dever. "Living together throughout this film has been the greatest. At the end of the day, we go home, lie in bed, watch TV together, and eat pancakes. I feel so close to Beanie, and I think the movie is better for it."

The way Dever and Feldstein felt about one another extended to the entire production. "I have never had this feeling before about a cast and crew," says Dever. "Olivia created a family oriented set. Everyone loves this project so much. This is an amazing group of people."

Feldstein adds, "It's the most talented group of people, who have been incredibly fun and warm. Everyone loves each other. It makes me sad that it's ending."

Molly and Amy are A+ people and will settle for nothing less than attending an A+ party - which means finding their way to Crockett High's Class Vice President Nick's house. Nick, played by Mason Gooding, is the big man on campus, the golden boy life of the party. "Nick's super sweet, got great hair, a good sense of style and is bright to boot. It's almost like with great power comes great responsibility. He's aware of his cool factor and uses that to uplift his peers and bring them into the fold. Nick is always trying to please people and just be a genuine guy."

Nick's natural charm and laid-back popularity infuriates Molly, who sees him as someone who never takes anything seriously. "By coming to Nick's party, Molly steps into his world," says Gooding. "He's both honored and surprised because she never seemed like the type of person who would go to a party let alone his. Nick realizes his face value assumption of Molly was wrong."

When Molly lets her imagination run wild, she and Nick break into a classically old-Hollywood dance number, requiring Gooding and Feldstein to don their dancing shoes. "I'm not a dancer," states Gooding. "It took me a while to get the moves down, but Beanie, who is a professionally trained dancer, was very patient and understanding which helped me land the choreography."

"We had a total of ten hours of rehearsals," continues Gooding. "There were lifts, turns and sexy body rolls. The entire experience was fantastic. Hopefully, it looks as great as it felt doing it." Feldstein adds, "The dance was a very special scene to film. Mason worked so hard. And our choreographer, Denna Thomsen and her assistant Jamie were amazing. The four of us were a little team determined to pull this off. We did it in one take, and it was incredible."

For Gooding, Booksmart taught him more about the ways of the world than his time in school. "I've never felt more a part of something which is the reason why I went to college for a few years," says Gooding. "It wasn't until I got here that I understood what it meant to be a community, and to be backed by so many brilliant, artistic people. It feels like I have a support system. Being on set has been awe inspiring and invigorating. Now that I have had this remarkable experience, where do I go from here?"

Eduardo Franco plays Theo, the seemingly-dopey, surprisingly bright, oldest kid in class. "Theo is not a complete idiot, but he's flunked a couple of grades," says Franco. "So, he's a few years older than his peers." "Theo, Tanner and Nick are thick as thieves," continues Franco. "They met as kids and stuck with each all the way through high school." Like their characters, the three actors found a genuine camaraderie with each other. "Our chemistry is real. It's raw. It's natural. There's nothing forced happening here," says Franco. "We're genuinely buddies."

Franco incorporated his mannerisms and style into Theo. "There's a lot of me in Theo," states Franco. "From the things he says to his actions to his clothes, everyone was open to my suggestions."

The other "T" in Nick's eclectic homeboy trio is Tanner, portrayed by Nico Hiraga, the charismatic consummate flirt who is unlucky with the ladies. "Tanner tries very hard to get in with the girls, but it just doesn't work to his favor," says Hiraga. "He's not the luckiest of dudes with the girls."

"When I was in high school, I was a small little dude with braces," recalls Hiraga. "I would flirt with the older girls and always get rejected. Being reminded of it, I think, 'WOW! Those were good times.' It taught me to not be afraid to try. Fall down seven times stand up eight. Keep going, don't lose confidence."

Skyler Gisondo plays Jared, the Richie Rich of the class who tries way too hard to fit in. "Jared is a very sweet guy from a wealthy family who goes to extremes to be cool," says Gisondo. "From lavishing his classmates and teachers with expensive gifts to wearing trendy, ostentatious clothing, all his efforts for his peers' acceptance consistently backfire and lead to further rebuke."

"From the get-go, he is super sprung on Molly," continues Gisondo. "He views Molly as someone who is self-aware and knows what she wants in life. This authenticity and confidence is why he loves her. Unfortunately, like with everything else, his over-the-top flirtations fall flat, and she wants nothing to do with him."

For all of Jared's garishness, his heart has always been in the right place. "He's so pure-hearted and he's so generous," observes Feldstein. "He sees Molly in a way that other people don't see her, and she doesn't realize how much she needs him until he's there for her."

Booksmart was the high school experience Gisondo never had. "I was homeschooled until the tenth grade so I didn't have that quintessential high school experience like this one. It's been a lot of fun to live vicariously through Jared."

Jared's hilariously uninhibited partner-in-crime is Gigi, portrayed by Billie Lourd. "Gigi is at the top of the social pyramid," says Lourd. "She marches to her own beat and doesn't give a damn about what people think of her. She loves wreaking havoc and being the center of attention. Gigi is the comic relief when things get heavy."

To assume Gigi's eccentric persona, Lourd recalled a moment from her Bat Mitzvah gone bad. "During my Bat Mitzvah, I was at the top of a staircase lined with lit candles," recalls Lourd."As I made my grand entrance, my skirt caught on fire. Everyone looked at me in a state of panic. Without even thinking, I tore off my skirt, stomped out the flames, and screamed, 'F*ck yeah!' And that's my inspiration for Gigi."

Diana Silvers is Hope, the aloof, cynical pretty girl who's too cool for school. "She feels like no matter what she does or how hard she tries to be accepted, she's still not going to be liked. There's nothing she can do about it. So, Hope decides to own that misconception, and embrace her steely cool persona."

Through Hope, Silvers stepped out of her comfort zone. "I've never made out with a girl or taken my clothes off on screen," states Silvers. "So, I overcame my own fears. It didn't feel like we were trying to arouse the male gaze, but rather, two girls awkwardly figuring out what to do. It was funny, beautiful, and intimate just as it should be when you're with someone the first time - perfect and special."

Being a misunderstood high school pretty girl herself, Silvers knew what it is like to walk in Hope's shoes. "I was the hot weirdo in high school," recalls Silvers. "I didn't get asked to prom. Finally, in my senior year, I reached a certain point, where I really tried to change that perception of me, but, no matter what I did these individuals would not accept me. So, I thought, 'Fine. I'm not cool. This is how this year's going to end.' Then, time passes and everyone finds their peace. I'm twenty years old now, I've found my peace. In Booksmart, after the party, everyone finds their peace which is how it should be."

Molly Gordon is what Molly and Amy assume to be the typical mean girl. "Triple A is promiscuous and proud," states Gordon. "She's very sexual and not afraid to talk about it. And she has always felt that her female peers judged her unfairly because of it. They erroneously assume that makes her less intelligent until they learn that she is Ivy League bound."

Triple A is a departure from the roles that Gordon usually gets. "I typically play very sweet characters," says Gordon. "So, it was fun to play someone different. It's cool to have a character that is comfortable in her skin and smart. It affirms that those things do not have to be mutually exclusive."

The film marks the first time that Gordon got to share the screen with her best friend in real life, Beanie Feldstein. "Beanie and I have been friends since we were thirteen years old," says Gordon. "This is my first time working on a film with her and I am deeply excited about it. We've been friends for so long, it makes me cry tears of joy to see my friend get to be a lead in a movie. I'm just so proud of her. That's been the biggest gift of this movie is getting to watch her work."

In her film debut, Victoria Ruesga plays Ryan, a free-spirited, skater-girl and the object of Amy's affection. "Ryan is very chill," says Ruesga. "She lives to push her wheels, and takes life in stride. She doesn't know that Amy has a crush on her."

Portraying Ryan was an art imitates life experience for Ruesga. "I'm playing myself," says Ruesga. "I've been skating since I was a kid. Now, I am an amateur skateboarder with sponsorships and endorsements. Since Ryan is a skater-girl, I incorporated my world into hers," continues Ruesga. "I use my own slang and clothes. I have a strong connection with her."

Happenstance led Ruesga to the part. "I've never acted before," says Ruesga. "It was spontaneous how I got this role. Allison Jones, the casting director, asked a mutual friend of ours if he knew anyone who would fit this role. He told her about me. Then, I auditioned and got the part."

Although Ruesga easily came by the role of Ryan, being available to actually make the film proved more of a challenge. "I'm studying to be a psychotherapist," states Ruesga. "In order for me to be on set, I had to take a leave of absence from school for a month. Thankfully, all of my professors were very supportive and made special accommodations for me to complete my work and take the final exams."

Noah Galvin plays George, the aspiring thespian destined for Broadway. "George is the student director of Crockett High's theater program," says Galvin. "He's the quintessential theater kid that you hated in high school - obnoxious, overbearing and over-the-top. He has a clear career trajectory in mind and will do whatever it takes to achieve his goal, which is probably directing a Tony award winning play by age twenty-three." George is a more colorful version of Noah. "George is basically a caricature of me," observes Galvin. "I'm playing the most extreme version of myself possible, and it seems to work. On another level, I can relate to him in a way because I know what it is like to be out and in the arts."

The filmmakers tailor made this role for Galvin. "George was not in the original script. I initially auditioned for Alan, but I didn't get the part. I was crushed, but then, I was told they wrote a new character called George for me, which is incredibly cool. I feel lucky to be here."

A director needs a star, and Austin Crute, who plays Alan and is George's leading man and combative best pal, wants to leave a lasting impression. "Alan is delightfully flamboyant and wants to shine," says Crute. "There's a friendly competition between he and George. They clash and butt heads, but at the end of the day, they're friends and care about each other. They want each other to succeed." As soon as they met, Crute and Galvin head an instant rapport. "The first time we met was on set," recalls Crute. "Right off the bat, we had immediate chemistry. And now we're friends just like our characters."

Jessica Williams plays Miss Fine, the teacher everybody loves and who has Amy and Molly's back in a pinch. Although popular with the students, Miss Fine has her own pangs of regret. "Miss Fine is the school's English teacher," says Williams. "She's very cool and wants to affect change in her students. When she was a teenager, she regrets not living her high school life to the fullest. And she is trying to encourage Amy and Molly to not make the same mistake."

Williams' portrayal of Miss Fine manifested from the teachers who supported her passion for the arts. "When I was in high school, I had a great drama program with excellent teachers who believed in me and inspired me to invest in myself," recalls Williams. "What makes a teacher incredible is if they care, that makes a big difference. I wanted to bring that to Miss Fine. She needed to be the teacher that everyone wishes they had - she's smart, understands jokes and references, and loves teaching."

Taking on this role gave Williams the opportunity to be in a film that she wish saw as a teenager. "I wish that I could've seen this film when I was in high school or middle school," says Williams. "In general, as a woman and as a person of color, I have always wanted to see myself represented on-screen. To see two very smart, young ladies managing the day-to-day of high school, being very upfront about their sexuality, going on this great emotional journey, and having this fun, crazy party night is exciting to me. I would've run to the theater to see that."

Disengaged from his job and doing the bare minimum is the school's apathetic Principal Brown portrayed by Jason Sudeikis. "He's someone who stayed too long at his job and is no longer as effective as Amy and Molly would like him to be," says Sudeikis. "At the same time, he understands that life becomes less fun as you get older, and he's concerned that the girls are letting their futures get in the way of their present."

Playing a principal was not a stretch of the imagination for Sudeikis. "I think a few different sliding door moments in my life, I probably could have been a principal at least one of this ilk," says Sudeikis. "It would probably take about seven or eight sliding door moments for that to have occurred, but it's probably for the best that those doors slid well before I got to them. I didn't feel like this was too big of a stretch where I would look like I'm being overly indulgent by partaking in such thing. Now, if I tried to play one of the high school kids maybe that would have been a bad call by all involved, but nope, I'm the principal."

Sudeikis sees the parallels between Wilde's life experience and the film's two main characters. "Olivia attended a pretty kick butt high school, Phillips Academy Andover, where two former presidents went," states Sudeikis. "She is familiar with kids who have the same idealism, ambition, and go-get-them mentality as Amy and Molly."

"And while, she would admit to being not one of them, she understands where they are coming from," continues Sudeikis. "Olivia has been working in her chosen field since she was eighteen, but she probably had a lot more fun along the way than Molly and Amy. So, I think she carries with her both parts of who, Molly and Amy, are intrinsically, but also, the more fully realized versions of themselves which I think Olivia is at this point in her life."

By setting this awkward, confusing and pivotal time, of a teenager's life, against a backdrop of authenticity, made the story's friendships, relationships as well as the characters themselves truer. "High school comedies are rare, and great high school comedies are even scarcer," states Distenfeld. "This is a visually and tonally ambitious movie in an endangered genre and our biggest challenge was assembling the right team, not only in front of the camera, but behind as well to help us land that tone and clear the high creative bar we all set for ourselves."

With a tight twenty-five-day schedule, production designer, Katie Byron and Wilde created an aesthetic that elevated the high school ambience without sacrificing its familiarity. "We wanted to make something that was timeless," explains Byron. "It doesn't have to be something that exists."

"Even though Booksmart draws inspiration from the vintage high school movies, we wanted it to be its own reference," continues Byron. "So, we created a high school world that is exaggerated, but grounded in naturalism - we did not want it to be too beautiful and exciting, but just enough to punch it up a notch."

Wilde applauds Byron for realizing her vision. "People assume comedies can't have an artistic perspective, but of course they can," says Wilde. "Katie and I had this immediate brain trust between us, whereby, she organically allowed my ideas to emerge and take shape."

"She had limited resources," continues Wilde. "But, somehow, she managed to make this film much richer and more dynamic."

For Byron, it was just a matter of taking a little artistic license. "We wanted to make a movie that's just a beautiful world to inhabit, and every now and then, you can throw out the rules to make a good piece of art." Crockett High School's graduation set took such liberties. "The graduation set was something no normal high school could afford," says Byron. "We had to build something that was beautiful, but, could be put up in one day, with a ceiling over it, sides, and a certain amount of chairs. A combination of a truss and steel deck were perfectly engineered to be the simplest and quickest way to achieve something grand."

At the same time, the atmosphere needed to be intrinsic to the characters. "Katie collaborated with the actors to allow their environments to feel authentic to their choices," states Wilde. "With the design of the girl's bedrooms, she worked with Kaitlyn and Beanie on what exactly would be in their rooms down to the texture of the blankets, the color of the wallpaper, what would be on their bedside tables, and what's inside the drawers (something we may never see, but informs the performance)."

For Crockett High School itself and Nick's aunt's house for the house party to end all house parties, Byron relied on actual locations instead of sets to keep it real. "We selected a school located in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles," says Byron. "They were the only school to let us do a water balloon fight in the hallway, and so they won."

"With Nick's aunt's house, we needed a film-friendly location where we could have nine days of night shoots," continues Byron. "After spending some time cold calling and knocking on doors, we found a magical house in Encino, California owned by an art collector. We had to remove every single piece of art and furniture, and then bring it all in ourselves. Then, we came in and dressed the empty space for our needs. It really supported us and gave us a real look."

To reflect the story's clash between real and perceived truths, Wilde and costume designer April Napier envisioned and crafted a style for each character that subverted the tropes associated with coming-of-age stories. "April loved the idea of telling a different kind of story about female friendship," says Wilde. "She wanted to make this a real, authentic depiction of girls who are different but not stereotypically nerdy."

"I was very clear that I wanted Amy and Molly to be unique," continues Wilde. "They love who they are, they're incredibly confident in themselves, they're not interested in changing how they look - that's not the journey they're on. April liked that I did not want these girls to evolve and emulate the popular kids. So, she came up with a brilliant idea of having the girls wear Rosie the Riveter inspired jumpsuits with a neck scarf, and a beret. These out-of-the-box ideas from April's imagination added so much texture to the film and immediately created a different vibe, which was essential to telling this story."

As each character has a different persona, it was important to have this illuminated in their clothing. "Olivia wanted the characters to have a distinct personality," says Napier. "They all express themselves differently. And so, each one has their own very specific look that is real and authentic, not some strange generic version of them." Lourd's character Gigi is uniquely distinguishable from her peers. "Gigi is inspired by Cher," says Lourd. "She's like a chameleon. With each new scene, Gigi undergoes a wardrobe change just like the pop diva herself."

Some of the actors already came with a style, unto their own, that jelled with their characters. "Eduardo (Theo), Nico (Tanner), and Victoria (Ryan) had a skate vibe that we liked for their characters," says Napier. "So, we had them wear their own clothes, shoes and jewelry."

"The shirts Theo wears are mine that I got at a Thrift store," says Eduardo Franco. "I like to wear slip-on shoes with basic tube socks, and that became a part of Theo's wardrobe, too, which was cool."

"They let me keep all my jewelry - the rings, the chains - I love my bling," says Nico Hiraga. "I was super hyped that they liked my style."

For Napier, finding the perfect article of clothing was not without its challenges. "The scene where Amy and Molly change into Miss Fine's clothes was definitely a tall order," states Napier. "Jessica Williams is six feet tall, and the girls are five foot one, maybe two. So, it took me awhile to wrap my head around (A) What would Miss Fine have in her car that would look cute on those girls and make sense size wise? and (B) What would be believable? The suspension of belief had to be palpable. So, we ended up doing big, sparkly, vintage shirts that they belted, and turned into a dress."

The best high school comedies make you laugh, and feel nostalgic, and also help you gain a better understanding of yourself. In Booksmart, the awkwardness of getting older is more than losing your virginity or the milestones of academic life. Instead, it is about breaking free from the shackles - self-imposed or otherwise - that keep you small. This film is a reminder to all of us that you come-of-age when you open-up and allow your light to shine, and when you let others do the same.

"I hope this film gets everyone to consider how they've perceived others, how they've unfairly judged people even themselves," says Wilde. "I hope it makes them see others with a little more empathy and appreciate the complexity of their own selves. Lastly, I hope it makes people reflect on their high school experience, whether they're in it currently, or it was forty years ago and think, 'that's a special time in life and it's important to be present because those times are fleeting. There's value to those moments and those relationships.'" Booksmart comes-of-age in U.S. theaters on May 24, 2019

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