Reflections on TAKEN IN

Added on by Chris WHITE.

My film TAKEN IN was completed and shipped to backers on July 15, 2011. Here are some of his thoughts about the film, one year later.

I am not inclined to enjoy things that I’ve written or made much past the first few weeks or months after completion. The flaws become more and more apparent as time wears on and this depresses me.

But one year after the release of TAKEN IN, it pleases me to say that I still like it quite a bit. The film has held its ground. I’ve come to love its flaws…like a tiny scar on the chin of a face you love.

First day of shooting, at the pool with lead actor Tim Brosnan ("Simon") and cinematographer Daniel McCord.

First day of shooting, at the pool with lead actor Tim Brosnan ("Simon") and cinematographer Daniel McCord.

That the movie exists at all is nothing short of miraculous. I remember when we were shooting the film at South of the Border…just trying to stay focused on making the very best decision possible at each moment. Directing a film is really just making a lot of critical decisions, one right after the other, from the first shot to the last edit. With TAKEN IN, I think that we made more far good decisions than bad ones.

Oh that loooooong opening sequence! Simon and Brooklyn’s purgatorial existence. When I see the film with an audience, I always feel a little nervous. I worry that they’re bored or confused. And then, by the time Brooklyn sees her dad making out with Dawn…you feel the air go out of the room…every time. So great!

Reptile Lagoon—directing actors Tim Brosnan ("Simon") and Traysie Amick ("Dawn").

Reptile Lagoon—directing actors Tim Brosnan ("Simon") and Traysie Amick ("Dawn").

The Reptile Lagoon scene is my favorite. Ronnie Gunter (Dillon) and Traysie Amick (Dawn) are just hilarious. Pitch perfect. I love Dillon’s bus stop story. I remember telling Ronnie that story just before we shot it. It just clicked with him. His retelling in the film is better, truer than I could ever tell it. And it actually happened to me!

I’ve told people that the entire movie was written backwards…from Brooklyn and Simon holding hands in the car. I owe it to Colin Devlin for connecting the handhold to the rest of the film. When we hear the first few chords of his U2 cover (“Staring At the Sun”), there is a certain catharsis that happens…an inevitability. Like, you can almost anticipate the touch before it happens.

I still cry at the end of TAKEN IN. I think that’s partially the story (co-written with my wife Emily) touching me again. But it’s also the memory of the week we made the movie, and how it all came to a close with that shot.

Daniel McCord’s (cinematographer) camera was sitting in Madelaine Hoptry’s (Brooklyn) lap. I called action, Maddi hit record, and Tim Brosnan (Simon) drove.

I let it go for a while before calling “cut.” It was the last shot of the day (the “martini”) and the very last shot of the shoot. Plus…I really felt like it was me, holding my daughter Gibson’s hand. And I didn’t really want any of it to stop.

Luckily, I get to keep TAKEN IN—last shot and all—forever. Here’s hoping it’s still such a pleasure to watch a year from now. And…here’s hoping you find the watching a pleasure as well.

Me, Em.

Me, Em.