By Masha Dowell | Shadow and Act September 27, 2013 at 3:51PM
I screened David E. Talbert’s, “Baggage Claim”, twice. The first time I viewed it quietly alone, to study the film as a whole. The second time, I went simply as a lover of romantic comedies. I am obsessed with romantic comedies, and this one left me excited, happy, and inspired to change my very own romantic situation.
It was slightly predictable, but then again, I will give the world just to see brown and black faces coming together via the silver screen to tell a love story. No matter how complex or simple the story may be. I will release several one on one interviews with the cast of the film and my film review throughout the month of September.
It was amazing that Shadow and Act was allowed to have a sit down chat with David, his wife Lyn, and executive producer Steven Wolfe. What made the interview even lovelier was the fact that the couple had their new son in the room during the interview. The love between the two was contagious, and I can’t wait to see their future collaborations.
They both were grounded in their speech, collective with their vision of the project, and I even loved how David corrected my doubtful thinking about my very own career standing, here and there. It was much appreciated, and needed.
Also, something that has never happened in one of my interviews happened during this one. David and I switch places a bit; he interviews me about the film.
Shadow and Act: Did you all plan for ‘Baggage Claim,” to be a multi genre project?
Lyn Talbert: Yes, that was the original plan. With film, we were able to work everything out from the book in so much more detail.
Shadow and Act: Steven, how did you meet David?
Steven Wolfe: I was introduced to David by some folks at Fox Searchlight. After I read the first draft of the script for Baggage Claim, I came on board.
Shadow and Act: I just interviewed Paula, and she mentioned that there were talks about the project years ago; with her being the lead. But then somewhere along the way, the project came to a halt. How did it get off the ground this time?
David Talbert: Well, you know the filmmaking process is filled with a lot of hurdles. It’s like a decathlon; you have the high jumps, long jumps, and all. But, good stories always find a way to get told. The thing that gave this project an advantage is that we always had a good story. When the story came back around this time, Paula was my only choice. And when she said that she wanted to do it, then everyone else decided to come along.
Shadow and Act: I read in the production notes that you began writing stories in college, specifically, after your own break ups. What inspired you to write this story?
DT: Well, I eavesdropped on my wife’s conversation with her girlfriend. It was her girlfriend that flew to visit a man in Chicago, and he dropped her off at a hotel to stay. It was my wife that was like girl, he is married. It was stories like that and others that have inspired my journey.
Shadow and Act: Can you all speak about your collective projects as a husband and wife team in Hollywood? What is your mission in Hollywood?
LT: David is such an amazing writer and director. I met him while he was doing his fifth play. While we were engaged, I began to tell him to fix this and that, and I did not even realize that I was getting involved in his grand plans. We both had a common goal as far as what types of projects that we wanted to put out there. And the quality of the projects and there are so. We look out for each other. We’ve had a lot of love as well from the press as well and it’s made it a lot easier for us.
Shadow and Act: I was impressed with the quality of the film. Can you tell me about your cinematographer selection?
SW: I was pitched the work of Anastas Michos, and David and I got together one day and met with him in the Valley for a cup of coffee and we were done with our selection. He and Dave worked well together.
DT: My wife saw his work on Jumping the Broom, and then we saw Cadillac Records and so it was like this guy knows how to shoot African-Americans extremely well. And he shoots Paula well, so we were like it would be great to get this guy on board. She looked so beautiful in that movie; well everyone looked so beautiful in that movie. So, when I met with him, (he is white), I was like man how do you know how to shoot black people so well? And he showed me his iphone, and his wife is a black woman.
Shadow and Act: I mentioned this next question during my interview with Taye. I felt that although Montana does not end up with any of the men that she goes on dates with, their overall stories were actually positive. Was that intentional with your writing?
DT: Absolutely. I don’t do male bashing. With the male characters in the film, yes, they may make bad decisions, but they are not necessarily bad people. All the men in the film had their own point of view, and they are who they are unapologetically. As the writer of the film, I did not put my own judgment into the film. Even the mother, the antagonist in the film, is not a bad person, but she does have different views than Montana. It was very important for me to show a cross selection of men; without make bashing.
SA: The talent that you selected was amazing. One thing that I noticed while watching the film is that you were able to pull amazing performances out of everyone. Can you speak a bit on your direction process?
DT: For me it all starts with respect. I come in the room as a fan of all of their work. That’s why I hired them. They read the script, and they love it, and then they respect me. From that level of respect, I establish trust. And once you have respect and trust, it’s just time to make the magic.
SA: What do you hope that people gain from this film?
DT: I want them to have a great time. This is not really a message movie. I would say that if I had any commentary; it would be through William’s character; and that the magic isn’t in getting married; its staying married. If I can put that type of energy out there in the world, then maybe somehow it will help. Marriage takes such a hit nowadays.
SA: What do you have coming up next?
DT: It’ll be a Fox searchlight film; but I’m trying to figure it all out. I really have not had a moment to breath since Baggage Claim. I’m just very thankful for this project and the team that came together for this film; and the actors that added their talent to this film. Everybody is in this movie.
SA: I know!
DT: What was your favorite part of the film?
SA: I have to say the dream sequence scene where Montana and William are dancing to New Edition.
DT: Who was your favorite character?
SA: I would have to say William.
SA: His character was very solid and stable.
Fox Searchlight releases David E. Talbert’s BAGGAGE CLAIM in theaters on September 27th. It stars Paula Patton, Derek Luke, Jill Scott, Taye Diggs, Boris Kodjoe, La La Anthony, and more. You can learn more about the film at www.baggageclaimmovie.com.