Friday, September 18, 2009

Filmmaker Spotlight Jenny Lumet

“I always tell my friends and family not to say anything funny or I’ll steal it. They know I’m a writer.”

Jenny Lumet didn’t start as a screenwriter; her first foray into the film business was as an actor. The daughter of filmmaker Sidney Lumet and journalist Gail Lumet Buckley and the granddaughter of singer Lena Horne, Jenny’s first role was in the film adaptation of Deathtrap (1982). In 1990, she was cast the film Q & A as Nancy Bosch, the wife of a drug kingpin who encounters her old lover, an assistant DA who is trying to get her husband to help him in a police corruption case. She said of her role, that she remembered her reviews were pretty good. "It wasn't a flat-out disaster by any means, but I just couldn't get another job." She also had parts in Running on Empty (1988), Tougher than Leather (1988), Assassination (1994) and Dodgeball (1995).

Jenny started writing screenplays 14 years ago when she was pregnant with her first child. Prior to writing Rachel Getting Married, she had written a few other screenplays, but wasn’t happy with them. As far as a formal training in writing, she once took a 3 day seminar. She also said that she learned by writing screenplays and having people not produce them.

She was finally able to have a screenplay made into a film. Rachel Getting Married is about the underlying family dynamics that occur when a junkie sister (Anne Hathaway) is released from another rehab program in order to make it home for her sister’s (Rosemarie DeWitt) wedding. Kym is a disruptive force and family issues that have been simmering for a long time come to a boil.

The interesting and compelling characters were built using bits and pieces from family, friends and acquaintances. Jenny was very excited to be working with director, Jonathan Demme and credits him for his part in making the film far better than she imagined. For her work on this film, Jenny won Best Screenplay from the New York Film Critics Circle, the Toronto Film Critics Association, and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association. She also won the Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture.

Recently, Jenny worked on re-writing the Will Fetter’s script Memoirs. Now known as Remember Me, the film is set to open on February 12, 2010 and stars Robert Pattinson, Pierce Brosnan, Chris Cooper and Emilie de Ravin. Rob spoke highly of the script and of Jenny in a recent interview with Risky Business. He said “It's very natural and the characters are incredibly real and well scripted. It's one of the few scripts I've read where you finish and realize you didn't really want it to end. I have no qualms in saying that (writer) Jenny (Lumet) is a genius.”

Jenny is currently working on a screenplay entitled This Strange Thing Called Prom. It is the story of a group of students from the Brooklyn International High School who are trying to organize a prom for the first time in the school’s history. This story is based on an article found in the New York Times, which tracked the efforts of the immigrant students planning their prom. This film is currently in development with a projected release date in 2011. She is also involved in a film project with Jason Reitman currently called See Also: Sambo.

She has also been busy for the last eight years teaching drama at her son’s school. The school is a progressive, independent school that is short on money, so she started the drama program herself. She had to take some time off for the filming of Rachel Getting Married, but is hoping to return.