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‘The Help’ — Writer/Director Tate Taylor and Producer Chris Columbus

posted by Nell Minow

More from the set of “The Help:”

Tate Taylor, writer and director of the film, told us, “I grew up coming to Greenwood.  It stopped in time in 1963.  These homes, these locations, these trees – we put together a look book.  They asked, ‘Where do you want to film, Vancouver?’  We gave the book to Spielberg and he went, ‘Wow.’  Louisiana has tax breaks – it is Southern, but has a very different feel.” So they came to Greenwood, which stood in for Jackson in 1963, and he brought along Mark Richter as the production designer because he was from the South — they had worked together as production assistants on a Gap catalogue photo shoot for $100 a day.  Taylor said Northerners don’t understand much about the South.  “I’ve been asked if we have malls here.  They don’t understand why people are being so nice – What do they want?”   He told us about adapting his friend’s novel.  “I had to get the first 200 pages of the book into 30 pages of screenplay.”  He had just  one disagreement with Kathryn Stockett and admitted she was right.  “People do not know about the Jim Crow laws.  We had to leave that in.”

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Chris Columbus, producer, described Greenwood as “In a sense, frozen in time.  ‘The Reivers’ was shot here.”  He said the production team was energized by the excitement of the community and pride.  And they all appreciated “the friendliness – everyone knows what everyone else is doing.”  The house where they were filming that day (Elizabeth Leefolt’s home in the movie) “was built around 1958 but it had to have a shimmer of newness about it.”

“I knew Tate because his sister’s kid and my kid were in school together and were friends.  I saw his short film, ‘The Chicken Party” and we stayed in touch.  He sent me the manuscript and I said, ‘It’s a woman’s book’ and gave it to my wife.”  But it turned out to be more than that.  He urged the studio to use Taylor even though he was a newcomer.  “He seems to really know this world inside out.”  And he told us that it was important to have accurate detail but keep the focus on the story:  “History is the backdrop.  It’s all about the characters.  You don’t want it to be a PBS special.  What was going on creates a sense of tension and danger.  When there’s too much Hollywood [casting big name stars) the authenticity disappears.”  Columbus, one of Hollywood’s most successful directors (including the first two Harry Potter films) told us he wanted to be in Greenwood to see the filming.  “I’m here almost every day because I love it.  It is very inspirational.  Why can’t we go back to making films that inspire us? Times really haven’t changed that much in terms of the way we deal with each other.  And  I love to be working on a movie where you really want to hate the villain.  It’s learning an entirely new culture, accent, food.  There was a time when the studio was talking about a cookbook, but the food is horrendous!”

 

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  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kim Lafontaine

    Confessions for the 2nd chapter of “The Help” the next story
    Stuck in middle -responsibility of parents and children, financial and mental support 
    Responsibility of taking care of parents and children
    Mother like daughter – not, being strong enough to break the mold
    Parents from different side of the tracks
    The daughter of the changing of times
    Who I have become  because of the change of times
    Who I am because of the times 
    Segregation – the child after
    Prejudice parents
    Youngest child- trying to understand the times and being different than how you were raised
    not preparing got our on self  due to responsibilities of parents and children 
    older sister and personality – child ob the 60’s
    Brother  – doing everything opposite from their parents
    Youngest  child- trying to piece it together
    How I raised my children
    Falling into the mold or not
    Rejection of breaking the mold
    Taking a stand   – the pros and cons – breaking the mold
    Struggling with  the  Christians belief of what’s write and wrong
    finding the balance
    Not the norm but the norm of the female baby boomer – physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual abuse, feeling obligated, suicide attempts of the mom, being the child stuck in the middle between the mom and dad ; hearing both sides and trying to understand and still love and forgive them both 
    Trying to understand both sides when trying to find closure of the elder parents, At the end of your parents journey
    1st boyfriend at age 5, black, why it was right and wrong
    1st girlfriend, black, could come over and play but not stay the night, never understood
    Had a black nana, but couldn’t have blacks in my life, confusion 
    Still seeing effects of segregation, extreme of grandchildren to grandparents; acceptance
    how long will it last before it will be completely broken to find happiness 
    Where we are today. 
    2nd chapter of  movie”The Help”

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