This past Monday at the Alamo Drafthouse, Brooklyn was the red carpet premiere of Becks.
Co-written and directed by Elizabeth Rohrbaugh and Daniel Powell, producer of Inside Amy Schumer, the indie film chronicles the life of Becks, a singer-songwriter played by Tony Award Winner Lena Hall. After a devastating breakup, Becks moves back home to live with her conservative Christian mom, played by Christine Lahti and sings for tip money at her old friend’s bar played by Dan Fogler. As the film unfolds, she forms an unlikely friendship with Mena Suvari’s character, the wife of a former high school bully. The film is also co-written by Rebecca Drysdale and co-produced by Alex Bach. Becks releases today on February 9th.
Check out our exclusive coverage with the cast and crew:
Elizabeth Rohrbaugh (co-director & writer)
The Knockturnal: What inspired you to tell this story?
Elizabeth Rohrbaugh: I had the idea after I saw a good friend of mine, Alyssa Robbins play a gig at a really small 24-hour diner in St. Louis. I was living in St. Louis at the time and just felt this kinship towards her experience. She was dealing with a breakup and sorta using music to get through that healing process. That night was so inspiring, we thought if we could build a story inspired by a real person and then use that music as a bed for telling that story.
Once I got her permission and move forward with the idea we spent so many hours talking about her relationships with her ex and her mom, her family and those dynamics. Just really working to build a rich character whose decisions were all justified, the truth that they have.
Daniel Powell (co-director & writer)
The Knockturnal: How do you know Liz?
Daniel Powell: Liz and I have known each other for years and we were both at the same position in our careers where we felt like we are ready to make our first feature. Getting movies financed and getting the resources together to make a film can be rather difficult but we felt like if we pulled our resources between the two of us we could get a movie on its feet. We decided, let’s toss around ideas; whichever one raises to the surface creatively we’ll just go ahead and back. We had a couple of ideas going. This idea that Liz had to use Alissa’s life and music as an inspiration for a narrative feature was the one we got the most excited about. We decided to spend the next few months writing the script and then we’d just go ahead and make it. Fortunately what happened was once Lena became interested in the film then Mena Suvari came on board, Christine Lahti and Dan Fogler.
Usually movies take years and years to come together but from the time we started talking about even doing a film from the time we wrapped principal photography was like 7 or 8 months- it was very very quick.
The Knockturnal: How did you get introduced to the project?
Dan Fogler: I was on the inside scoop for this one. I knew the director and I knew the writer and I knew who it was based on. They are all friends of my wife and they knew me and said “Hey, do you want to come on a do a part?” And I was like “Sure!”
The Knockturnal: Does that make it weird?
Dan Fogler: It is a little surreal. It’s surreal the this is something that was just based on a friend of our lives.
The Knockturnal: Are you based off of a real character as well and did you meet him?
Dan Fogler: Yes but I didn’t meet him. He’s some guy in St. Louis who owns a bar. I didn’t get a chance to go out and do the method research. They used to date and he and he makes drinks. I got it.
The Knockturnal: Do you like to watching your films?
Dan Fogler: I really like it; I learn from it, you know? I come from the theater so I’m always watching and adjusting for film. I feel like you have to as an actor to see what other people are seeing. You have to basically sit in the audience and if you can’t do that and compartmentalize it and be a good audience for yourself, you’re kinda stagnated. That’s my opinion.
The Knockturnal: Did they approach you for the project?
Lena Hall: They did. They saw me perform with Jason Robert Brown at Subculture. And Alyssa who the story is loosely based on she told them, “What about Lena Hall?” They looked me up and what I’ve done and then they came to me and we talked about the script. I listened to all the music and I really loved it and that’s how it all came about.
The Knockturnal: It’s all you singing; everything is you?
Lena Hall: Yeah, and what’s cool is that for almost all of the scenes that are in the bar, it’s all my live vocals. I think that it lends a very authentic taste to the performances.
The Knockturnal: How was it to prepare for the role; did you draw from personal experience?
Lena Hall: There are other themes to this character that I was dealing with at the very same time as we were filming. A lot of it has to do with the codependence like having low self-esteem; thinking you need someone else to be validated and I was going through all of that as the same time as the character. I’m also sober and alcoholism is a tiny undertone in this film and I had quit drinking about 7 month before we started filming and I’ve been sober ever since. For me it was an interesting film to do these crazy scenes in a bar where I’m getting wasted and not having done that in a while. I was battling with a little bit of that and the codependent thing, not having enough self-esteem to know I could do it on my own and I can pursue my dreams myself. The character of Becks does not know what she wants in life. Those are the underlying tones for me.
The Knockturnal: Tell us about the preparation for your role.
Christine Lahti: The character was really challenging for me. My character is not really tolerant and ultimately can’t accept your daughter’s gayness and it was really hard to understand that because I’m the opposite. I don’t get why it makes any difference who you love, as long as you love. My character is an ex- nun, she’s very religious and prejudice. She tries her best to get over it but she can’t.
The Knockturnal: How did you get involved in the project?
Mena Suvari: Luckily enough I did an episode of Inside Amy Schumer a couple of years ago, I got an email from Dan Powell with the script attached and asking to be to consider the role of the lead and I was just very touched and excited. It’s a beautiful thing when you can sorta work in one space and that relationship can continue.
The Knockturnal: I know the #MeToo movement is happening now, being in the industry why do you think now is the time?
Mena Suvari: I’m glad that it is, and I think like anything everything comes to a head eventually. People can only get away with dangerous abusive behavior for so long. I don’t know why I’m not running a statistical study but I think that things are ultimately going to come out. I’m only impressed by the fact of the fearlessness that’s behind all of this. I think that’s it’s most important to just focus on really wishing the best for the victims. I also felt that it’s important to acknowledge the process of everyone because I can’t even imagine having to go through what they went through. You have to acknowledge that everyone have a process and not to be angry at somebody else because they didn’t talk about it at the moment you wanted them too.