How '10 Years' Director Jamie Linden Made His Unconventional Film With an All-Star Cast

Anchor Bay Entertainment

The "Dear John" writer's directorial debut -- which stars Channing Tatum, Justin Long, Oscar Isaac, Chris Pratt, Kate Mara, Scott Porter, Aubrey Plaza and Anthony Mackie -- was made without rehearsals and shot in chronological order.

The 10-year high school reunion is an old tradition, giving the once-awkward a chance for redemption, and long lost loves a chance to reconnect.

It’s also been the focus of several films over the years, with another one -- 10 Years -- hitting theaters on Friday, September 14.

However, Jamie Linden’s directorial debut is anything but conventional.

The first-time director, who wrote the screenplays for 2010’s Dear John and 2006’s We Are Marshall, made the indie film his way, while still getting a giant collection of all-star actors to star.

The ensemble film, following a group of former high school classmates as they reunite for their 10-year reunion, stars Channing Tatum, Justin Long, Oscar Isaac, Chris Pratt, Scott Porter, Aubrey Plaza and Anthony Mackie. Tatum also produced.

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With a cast featuring so many charismatic actors, 10 Years could have been a very expensive film -- but all the actors worked for scale.

“Everybody -- starting with Channing -- did it for next to nothing,” Linden tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Just for the experience to getting to work with their friends and find characters as we went.”

The experience itself was unconventional from the start for many reasons. First, Linden cast the actors first, and then collaborated with them on their characters’ arcs; The the actor even got to name their character. Then, there were no rehearsals, and the film was shot in chronological order, allowing the actors to improvise as they went.


"As a director -- I didn’t go to film school. I don’t have aspirations to be a director in capital letters,” explains Linden. “That’s the same way I write scripts -- I start at the beginning and I end at the end. It’s the only thing that made sense to me.”

During filming, the cast stayed together in a boutique hotel in Albuqurque, New Mexico, which was the same place where the film’s reunion took place. There were no marks to hit, and if the actor and Linden disagreed about what their character would do in a certain situation, the actor won the tie breaker.

Linden, who considered 1982’s comedy-drama Diner as the “holy grail” of what he was hoping to do, first came up with the idea to do this film while on the set of Dear John with Tatum. Linden said that he was hoping to make a movie about his own 10-year reunion, and Tatum and producing partner Reid Carolin were looking for their first project to produce.

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Tatum not only produces and stars, but his real-life wife, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, plays his girlfriend in the film. Tatum and Dewan met while filming 2006 dance pic Step Up, and began dating shortly after. They married in 2009.

“I was a little nervous about it because sometimes familiarity breeds a certain lackadaisical nature about things,” Linden said about working with a real-life couple. “But they both took it so seriously.”

There was another real life couple that should have been in the film together, but one half had to back out a couple weeks before shooting. Parks and Recreation star Chris Pratt, who plays a popular jock who wasn’t so kind to his classmates in high school, was going to have his real-life wife, Anna Faris, play his wife in 10 Years. Lynn Collins stepped into the role, leaving the character’s name as Anna as a subtle tribute.

10 Years opens in theaters on Friday, September 14.

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