Writer-Director Jonathan Kasdan THE FIRST TIME Interview

     February 13, 2012


One of the many films to premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival was writer-director Jonathan Kasdan‘s (In the Land of Women) The First Time.  The film stars Brittany Robertson, Dylan O’Brien, Craig Roberts, James Frecheville and Victoria Justice.  Like Richard Linklater‘s Before Sunrise (one of my favorite films), The First Time is about watching two people fall in love, except instead of taking place over one night in Vienna, The First Time takes place over a weekend and it’s about two High School students.  While I’ve seen many High School celluloid love stories crash and burn before the end credits, Kasdan pulled me in with believable dialogue, realistic situations, and he reminded me what it feels like to be seventeen and unsure of everything.  While I saw a lot of films at this year’s Sundance, The First Time was one of my favorites.

Shortly after the Festival ended, I sat down with Kasdan for an extended interview.  We talked about Sundance, the influence of Before Sunrise, how he used his own personal experiences in the script, casting, getting financing, the contrast between making studio movies versus smaller films, improv vs. sticking to the script, future projects, the irony of “discovering” talent such as Kristen Stewart before they are “box office gold,” and a lot more.  Hit the jump to watch.

Britt-Robertson-The-First-Time-Dylan-OBrienAs usual, I’ve time indexed the interview so you can watch the parts that interest you.

Jon Kasdan Time Index

  • 0:00 – Kasdan talks about his reaction to the Sundance Film Festival.
  • 0:40 – Kasdan gives the overview of The First Time, a movie about a boy and a girl from two different high schools who meet at a party and the evolution of their relationship.
  • 1:45 – Talks about the influence of the film, Before Sunrise.
  • 2:40 – Kasdan comments on his lack of relationship experience.
  • 3:15 – Talks about his own personal experiences from his youth that influenced the film.
  • 4:15 – Comments on how he chose to make The First Time.
  • 4:35 – Remarks on finding financing for the film and his relationship with the producers.
  • 5:30 – Kasdan contrasts the experience of making studio movies versus smaller films.
  • Jon-Kasdan-The-First-Time6:00 – Comments on his writing style and how the script for The First Time emerged.
  • 7:20 – Kasdan reflects on the casting process for the film and how it’s his least favorite part of the process because he has to turn away so many quality performers.
  • 9:10 – Talks about the difference between how easy it is to cast male actors versus female actors, including comments on star Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf).
  • 9:55 – Contrasts improv in the rehearsal process versus using it in filming, especially with natural improvisational actors, such as Craig Roberts (Submarine).
  • 11:00 – Kasdan talked about the relative shortness of his film and the lack of deleted scenes.
  • 11:45 – Talks about how difficult it is to show his family his writing and how he responds to their reactions.
  • 12:40 – Kasdan reflects on participating in his father, Lawrence Kasdan’s films, such as The Big Chill.
  • 13:25 – Comments on the debate between using film versus using digital and talks about using the RED camera while his brother, Jake Kasdan, uses the Arri [Alexa].He continues the discussion by pointing out that film is quickly fading as a medium.
  • 15:55 – Talks about the irony of “discovering” talent, such as Kristen Stewart (In the Land of Women), before they are “box office gold.”
  • 17:15 – Concerning The First Time, Kasdan talks about scenes that he wishes he could revisit.
  • 18:40 – Kasdan talks about his own projects that he’s finished writing but hasn’t moved forward with.
  • 19:25 – Discusses his reaction to the positive response for The First Time and his passion for all types of movies, not just romances.
  • 21:15 – Comments on the quality of television these days, specifically Breaking Bad and Mad Men, as well as his hopes of crafting something of that caliber.



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