Many directors would be wary of working with two actors who have been involved in a longtime on-again, off-again romantic relationship — not Nanette Burstein. The filmmaker, who directed Drew Barrymore and Justin Long in the upcoming romantic comedy "Going the Distance," said the pair's history made working with them "easier."
"They were just so happy together, and they had this chemistry that you can’t create," Burstein said at the movie's premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on Monday night. "Plus, they had the intimacy, too, to draw on. Sometimes you get couples that fall in love in the middle of making a movie, but they don’t have that history together to draw on. And here you had both."
In recent years, Burstein has gained notice for her work as a documentarian. In 2002, she made "The Kid Stays in the Picture," which centered around producer and former Paramount studio head Robert Evans. Six years later, she took home the best director prize at Sundance for her work on "American Teen," which followed high school seniors in Indiana.
But after working on documentaries for the last 15 years, she was ready to try her hand in the fiction world. The script for "Going the Distance" — which landed a coveted spot on the Hollywood Black List in 2008 — spoke to her because of its focus on a unique kind of a relationship.
"I related to the subject matter. I’ve had long distance relationships before. And I realized, 'Huh, there’s really never been a movie about this extremely relatable topic,'" she said. "And I love the humor and I love the sincerity of it. So I just wanted to make a Hollywood movie with the same sort of tone that I loved about some of the documentaries I’ve made."
But she didn't leave all of her documentary filmmaking skills behind during production on "Going the Distance." During one scene, in which Barrymore and Long's characters connect on a long first date, Burstein opted to shoot at the bar she co-owns in Manhattan's Chelsea district called The Half-King. She only used a "couple of small HD cameras" and all-natural light.
"I shot it like a documentary," she smiled.
For more from the "Going the Distance" red carpet, including interviews with Barrymore and Long, check out full coverage on our sister blog Ministry of Gossip.
— Amy Kaufman
RECENT AND RELATED:'Going the Distance' premiere: Drew Barrymore, Justin Long, Christina Applegate