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That Awkward Moment found its way to stars Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan at just the right moment: when all three young actors were looking for a project that was different from what they’d done.
Jordan, who had starred in dramas such as The Wire and Fruitvale Station, was looking for an opportunity to do a comedy — and live through the third act of a film. Teller, who starred in last summer’s coming-of-age film The Spectacular Now, was looking to make a movie for a slightly older generation. Efron, who rose to fame with the High School Musical franchise and made a number of forgettable studio films and challenging indie titles, had long been looking for a movie about a group of single friends.
Efron does double-duty on the film, executive producing the title through his Ninjas Runnin’ Wild banner, marking the first film the company has produced since its 2010 founding.
After finding out about the project through fellow producer Justin Nappi, who also worked on Efron’s recent movie At Any Price, the actor called writer-director Tom Gormican from Cannes and committed to the project, even helping with the casting.
“[He] called me out of the blue and said, ‘Hey, this is Zac. I want to do this movie and help you get it made.’ And he did. He was instrumental in getting the other guys to come onto the script and the girls as well,” Gormican says.
As the cast took shape, the tone of the film changed as well, Gormican adds, explaining that the “cynical” script on the 2010 Black List became a much more positive project.
“The original version of the film, which I’d written a couple of years ago, was a little bit more of a cynical take on relationships and dating,” he says. “I tried to make the movie reflect the people who ultimately came on to be in it, and it actually turned into a more positive piece of entertainment.”
That wasn’t the only change That Awkward Moment went through. The film, which was originally titled Are We Officially Dating, was acquired by FilmDistrict but is now being released by Focus Features after FilmDistrict CEO Peter Schlessel took over the Universal specialty division. But Gormican says not only wasn’t he concerned about the fate of the project after it became clear that FilmDistrict was essentially being absorbed by Focus, he’s thrilled with the film’s current distributor.
“I’m happy that it’s now a Focus movie,” he says. “I grew up in New York independent film, working for a lot of different companies, and they’re such like a classic brand. And they’re still — with my movie, which is a super indie — shot in 24 days and is now getting a big release.”
Shooting an independent film in New York during such a short time period most likely came with several challenges. But for Gormican, the most formidable was one that’s likely familiar to many writers directing their own work.
“I think the biggest challenge was, at times, watching the things that you thought were great on the page turn out to be less than great,” he said.
Jordan, meanwhile, had trouble getting over one very personal moment in the script.
To find out what scene made the Fruitvale Station star uncomfortable and hear the actors and writer-director Gormican talk about the making of the film, check out the video above.
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