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Exclusive: Director Jesse Zwick, Max Greenfield, Nate Parker talk 'About Alex'

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On April 17, Examiner.com was on the red carpet for the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of "About Alex," which was directed by Jesse Zwick and stars Aubrey Plaza, Max Greenfield, Max Minghella, Jason Ritter, Nate Parker, Maggie Grace, and Jane Levy. The premiere was held at BMCC. Maggie Grace looked elegant on the red carpet in a white knee length dress, a thin yellow belt, and matching yellow shoes. A chic white coat added a nice touch. Aubrey Plaza looked fabulous in a red dress.

Film Synopsis: A circle of twenty-something friends reunite for a weekend away after one of them suffers an emotional breakdown. Despite the group's best efforts to keep it light and enjoy themselves, a tinderbox of old jealousies, unrequited love, and widening political differences leads to an explosion that, coupled with the flammable combination of drugs, wine, and risotto, cannot be contained.

Jesse Zwick is the film's writer and director. This is his debut film.

What inspired the screenplay?

The screenplay is in part inspired by my own college friends, who were a very close group and friends of mine that we've tried very mightily to stay in touch, but you know over the years it's kind of hard to to find the time to get back together again. It's sort of a story about a group of people who, under some tragic circumstances, get that opportunity and discover that they've all changed in different ways, when they get thrown into the same room together.

Tell me about your college experience, where did you go to school?

I was an undergrad at Harvard University, it was a rough transition, I didn't always enjoy myself there, but once I made a core group of friends, it just felt like the best place in the world and I wouldn't change it for anything now.

Tell me where you got your passion for filmmaking from?

I grew up in a film family, my parents both work in TV and movies, but for a while I thought I was going to do something else. I actually worked as a journalist for a few years. But I've always loved movies, I've always loved watching them with my family, and I just found myself writing screenplays at a certain point, and I decided to go with it.

What does your family do in the film industry?

They write and direct as well.

Did you shadow them when you were younger?

Growing up, I didn't think it was something I wanted to do, so I didn't spend a lot of time doing that once. More recently that I've gotten more into it, I have spent some more time shadowing on set, not on my dad's movie, but on some other projects, and the TV show that I worked on.

Tell me about the casting?

It was incredible, it's a small movie that wasn't going to pay anyone much of anything, so everyone was in it for the love of being in small movies and doing great parts and they were all game to go up into the woods, spend four weeks, working really long hours all because they believe in this project. I couldn't be happier with them all.

Nate Parker plays Ben in the film.

Tell me about your character in the film.

I portray a character named Ben who is in a relationship with Maggie Grace's character, and her name is Siri in the film and we kind of get back together after something tragic happened to one of our friends, to support him, we end dealing with a lot of our own issues that we've never dealt with after college. So it’s kind of a healing, coming of age, type of experience. It’s really good, really excited about this.

What do you love about the script?

That it was written very well, it was really clear, and that the director had an emotional tie to it. You could tell it was something that he was passionate about, so you knew it was only going to get better as you spoke the words.

Speak about collaborating with Jesse?

Jesse's great, first time director, and what you want out of a director is someone who has absolute clarity about their goals and what they want to do, and I sat with him in a meeting, and he so sold me on what he was striving for that I felt like I’d able to fit into and he would be able to direct me to get there.

Tell me about your other film in the festival?

The film is called "Every Secret Thing," starring Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, Diane Lane, Common is in it as well, I play the partner of Elizabeth Bank's character – it’s based on a book- and we try to find out what’s happened to this missing child.

Are you excited you have two films at the festival? It's a big deal.

I'm very excited, I'm excited to be here at all, it's a great organization, very prestigious, and they run it very well, so I pray that it’s not my last time.

We also spoke with Adam Saunders, who produced "About Alex."

Tell me how did you get involved?

I worked with Jesse's dad on my last movie, which was called "Family Weekend," and so he slipped me the script and said "What do you think?" and I said I have to produce this, you have to let me produce this movie, and he said "Well it's not my decision, it's Jesse's decision." So I met with Jesse and I begged him to let me produce it and he met with every other producer in Hollywood and he circled back so I'm very grateful because it’s an incredible script and we were able to get a great cast and I'm really proud of it.

Tell me about the production of the film.

We shot about four and a half weeks and what was great about it was that we shot it in upstate New York so there was no cell phone service so it was kind of like summer camp. Everybody was there, they were all together, and nobody could run off and do other things. So we all hung out and bonded and people went swimming in the brooks and it was a really fun experience.

How did you get your start in the world of film and producing?

I started as an actor and that was how I first got in and then I put together our last movie, basically to give me an acting opportunity, and then I found my love for producing, that’s how I got involved with the Zwicks, and now I found that I really love producing as well.

Do you have any future projects you would like to share?

We're working on a movie that we're going to shoot this summer called "When We First Met," which is being directed by Jamie Travis, and we are shooting that in Vancouver.

Max Greenfield plays Josh.

How did you want to get involved in the making of this film?

It's a wonderful script, and there were a few actors that were already signed on, at the point in which I was kind of meeting and figuring that all out. Those two things really made me want to do the film.

Did you enjoy making this film?

Absolutely, it was a very different experience for me, especially coming out of my day job on "New Girl," it was ultimately so rewarding and fantastic that I couldn't be happier that we did it, and couldn't be more proud that we're here.

Tell us about your character.

I play Josh, he's kind of the abrasive person of the group, he's probably a little too smart for his own good, he's got a lot of good degrees, he's still in college, probably working towards more degrees, I don't know what kind of degrees he has I just know that it's multiple degrees.

Can you speak about working with Jesse and what it was like collaborating with him?

It was fantastic, what a great experience, especially for a first time director like Jesse, I felt like this was not an easy film to shoot, with as many characters as there were, it was technically not the easiest thing, and a less cool character could have completely freaked out during this. I probably would have if I were directing, but luckily I was acting so I was just like "Yeah let me know," but he was fantastic, he was so great, and again it was a really wonderful experience because of that.

Following the premiere of "About Alex," stars of the ensemble cast and crew reunited to celebrate the showing and toasted specialty VDKA 6100 cocktails. Guests in attendance included Aubrey Plaza, Max Greenfield, Jason Ritter, Nate Parker and Maggie Grace. The after-party was held at Kutsher's Tribeca.

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