Posted on Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 by Peter Sciretta
American Teen director Nanette Burstein is ready to make the transition from documentary filmmaking to narrative feature filmmaking. The Academy Award nominated documentary filmmaker is in talks with New Line (aka Warner Bros) to helm the film Going The Distance, a romantic comedy which deals with a the struggle to maintain a long distance relationship, between Chicago and Los Angeles.
Screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe sold his spec scrip without representation after working for the studio as a script reader for four years. LaTulippe told Variety in July: “The essential story is that the couple knows that the long-distance relationship is probably a bad idea but they like each other too much to stop.” LaTulippe came up with the idea with his good friend Dave Neustadter (an executive at New Line) after a night of drinking.
“He’d been in a long-distance relationship a couple of years prior, and we realized that no one had really done that situation justice, given it its own film…and MILLIONS of people go through that type of relationship. If you haven’t (like me), you know someone who has (Dave),” LaTulippe told DoneDealPro in September. “We’re both really big proponents (and, to be honest, damn-near worshippers) of what Judd Apatow is doing in comedy right now. At the same time, we knew there was room in that niche – that sort of slice-of-life, familiar-to-everyone observational comedy that doesn’t have to rely on huge set pieces and slapstick gags to generate laughs – to create something that a lot of people could get behind. I think all of the best comedy comes from real life, from those situations where you go, ‘I couldn’t have made that up if I tried.’ So I stopped trying. Dave and I just drew from our own experiences, worked to make the story as down-to-earth as possible, and people seemed to respond to it.”
When I talked to Nanette back in July, she spoke about wanting to do a fictional film next:
“I want to do a fiction film next, because every time you want a new challenge and I feel that that would be a new challenge and I struggle so hard to make these documentaries really narrative, entertaining and so I thought it would be interesting to try just from the beginning scripting it, rather than taking real life and putting it into a narrative story arc,” Burstein told /Film. “Even before I shoot a documentary I write the story that I hope to get and of course it ends up being a different film, but I actually write it out, and so I guess you know, writing a screen play you write out your first draft and then you get to a completely different place where your last draft so in that way, but what I would want to do in a fiction film is have the room to improvise a lot and not just stick to the script and I feel like being a documentary filmmaker, I’d feel more comfortable doing that.” … “It would probably be a dramady, I mean I’m developing a few from projects but you never know what’s going to work.”
As you’re probably aware, we were a big supporter of American Teen, a film we feel fell through the cracks due to poor marketing. It’s a great film, and you should definitely add it to your Netflix Queue. I’m glad to see that Burstein will be crossing over into fictional film. I have no idea what that might even look like, but judging from the tastes she expressed in our movie playlist conversation, I’m definitely interested to find out.