July 25th 2006
Independent Filmmakers Alliance Newsletter
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The Quiet is director Jamie Babbit's latest project and a unique look into Indie filmmaking. By using unconventional techniques, she was able to cut down on costs and tell a story that needed to be told.

The Quiet Explores Unconventional Filmmaking
By Karina Halle

It’s hard to believe it but The Quiet is only director Jamie Babbit’s second feature film. She first garnered attention with her directorial debut in the saucy Indie comedy But I’m a Cheerleader. It premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and played at Sundance, Rotterdam, and Cr’teil, where it earned the Best Young Director and the Audience Award. Starring Natasha Lyonne, Clea Duvall, Cathy Moriarity and the fabulous RuPaul, But I’m A Cheerleader became an instant success and got Babbit noticed as Variety voted her as one of the 10 Filmmakers to Watch.

With her second film, The Quiet, Babbit decided to explore the darker, more realistic side to high school and family life. Popular cheerleader Nina Deer’s (Elisha Cuthbert) seemingly perfect world is turned upside down when her parents (Edie Falco and Martin Donovan) adopt their recently orphaned goddaughter Dot (Camilla Belle). Dot’s arrival delivers a blow to Nina’s idyllic social life and triggers the unraveling of the family’s darkest secrets. Both Nina’s family and friends develop an odd fascination with Dot and confide in her their troubling secrets. Dot quietly shoulders the burdens and secrets of those around her, while continuing to hold what is perhaps the biggest secret her own.Through Nina’s eyes, Babbit takes us on an emotional rollercoaster rideó through the hilarious and often crude interactions of high schools students and a family where happy faces disguise ugly truths.

A real testament to Indie filmmaking, The Quiet is the product of the groundbreaking collaboration between Burnt Orange Productions and the University of Texas Film Institute. The unique partnership provides students with the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals on independent feature films, while gaining specialized hands-on experience in all aspects of filmmaking. The result allowed the film to cut-down on production costs as well as introduce students to the real world of Indie filmmaking.

Producer Carolyn Pfeiffer, president and CEO of Burnt Orange Productions, along with executive producer Tom Schatz, executive director of the University of Texas Film Institute, had an ambitious vision in mind when they launched the alliance. For Schatz and Pfeiffer, The Quiet is a big step toward the realization of films produced in part with university students.

For most of the students hired on the production, The Quiet was their first time to set foot on a feature set, and they immersed themselves in the production process.

“It’s not about the money or fame for these students. It’s about the passion to make a great film,” says Martin Donovan.

The University of Texas interns left with an experience they will not soon forget.

“The knowledge that I gained could never have been obtained from any classroom setting or other strictly academic situation. The benefits from the experience have been substantial, and I am thrilled to have been a part of this film,” explains production consultant and intern William Goodman. “I would highly recommend this experience to any student with aspirations to work in the film industry.”

Another way that Babbit and her team was able to cut-down on production costs was by shooting the film in High Definition (HD).

“HD is very crisp, and magnifies every flaw,” Babbit explains. “To overcome that, our director of photography, David Mullen, often blurred the scenes with smoke.”

Despite this, shooting in HD offers certain benefits.

“Because HD stock is so inexpensive, we were able to keep it running instead of constantly cutting, which throws the actors off-kilter,”says Babbit.

The Quiet really struck a cord with Canadian actress Elisha Cuthbert (The Girl Next Door, 24).

“Nina, my character, deals with deep anger from something specific, but she can’t cope with it alone any longer,” says Cuthbert. “Nina copes by unloading her secrets onto Dot.”

Cuthbert took such a liking to the script that she took on the role of associate producer where she was able to lend her creative input and take part in the casting process.

With Babbit’s ingenious filming methods and groundbreaking exploration of today’s “perfect” society, it looks like theatergoers are going to have one more film to look forward to this year.

The Quiet can be seen in theatres on Friday, August 25th.

Find out more....

Cuthbert unloads all of her secrets onto Belle