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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Interview: Rob Margolies of ‘Lifelines’

posted by Nell Minow

“Lifelines,” which I wrote about as one of the overlooked gems of 2008, opens April 3 in New York. It is about a deeply wounded family’s visit to a therapist and the revelations and connections and consequences that result.

I interviewed the writer/director/producer, Rob Margolies.

What made you want to be a filmmaker?

One of my earliest memories is the day I first discovered Jim Henson’s “Labyrinth” on VHS. I was no more than 5 or 6. It was the first film I fell in love with. I must’ve watched it nearly every day after school for months.

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Not long after, I was introduced to films like: “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” “The Never Ending Story,” “The Goonies,” “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure,” etc. Within the following 5 or 6 years, my love for movies grew stronger and matured with such defining films as: “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Pulp Fiction” (which I’m proud to admit I snuck into when I was 11), “Schindler’s List,” and “Forrest Gump.”

Storytelling, creative writing, and concocting elaborate skits using friends as actors were vital hobbies of mine long before I hit puberty. I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker before I was 12 (the age I began writing screenplays).

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To answer the question, I am a filmmaker to inspire and entertain others.

Were there particular films or directors or screenwriters who influenced you?

In addition to the films above, as far as filmmakers go: Kubrick, Paul Thomas Anderson, Spielberg, Truffaut, and Alexander Payne…

How did the idea for this story begin?

NOTE: I can’t fully answer this question without giving away spoilers.

However, I will admit that I was diagnosed with ADD at a young age, and in order to be properly treated for such a condition I had to visit handfuls of diverse psychiatrists and psychologists for a large part of my life. The concept of a family journeying to see a shrink on a Saturday to mend their own issues has always been a topic I wanted to explore cinematically. I believe every human being can relate on some level.

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You gave some very challenging roles to young actors — how did you work with them so that they did not indicate or give away too much too soon?

My New York-based casting director, Judy Henderson, has had a lot of luck casting children in the past. I sought her out based on her past work on such indie films as “L.I.E.” and “Twelve and Holding.” Judy came through again, finding incredible newcomers for “Lifelines.”

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Each actor, Robbie Sublett (Michael Bernstein), Dreama Walker (Meghan Bernstein), and Jacob Kogan (Spencer Bernstein), understood the dynamics of their character from their first audition. I truly lucked out. We really didn’t even rehearse that much! When they had questions, we discussed the answers. When they weren’t in character or did something that needed improved (which was infrequent), I let them know and the problem was solved almost instantly. All three of them are already extremely successful, and deservingly so. Again, I truly lucked out.

Jane Adams is one of my favorite actresses. How did you come to work with her and what was it about this role that attracted her?

Jane was my first choice for Nancy Bernstein – I’ve always been a fan of hers as well. My Los Angeles-based casting director, Lindsay Chag, agreed that Jane was perfect for the role. Intuitively, I knew she would connect with the character. And she did. You would have to ask her what attracted her to the role for an authentic answer…

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What do you most want people to take from this movie?

Nobody is perfect. And if anybody thinks they are, they’re most imperfect. I’d love people to watch this movie and subliminally start accepting their own family members and friends for precisely who they are, putting all inherent shortcomings aside. But ultimately, I made this movie for people to know they aren’t alone in the world. If you have an open mind, somebody will always be there to hear you out in times of need.

What are you doing next?

A feel-great father/son comedy titled: “In the Meantime.” It puts an insightful new spin on the coming age subgenre as well as road trips, and the definition of love & lust… We will be filming sometime this summer. Currently we’re making offers, getting close to attaching a star for the lead role. The rest of the principal cast is pretty much set. A bunch of the actors are already listed on IMDB and the rest will be added within the upcoming months.

Also, please check out my website for more info on “LIFELINES” and all of my upcoming projects.

  • Dustin Putman

    Great interview, Nell! I enjoyed reading this.
    I’m really pulling for this movie and it needs all the promotion it can get.

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