Filmmakers The Erwin Brothers Schedule a Moms’ Night Out

When a harried mother sets up a quiet night out with just her girlfriends, she doesn’t plan on a stolen car, a lost baby, and a biker gang making her night complete. Directed by The Erwin Brothers, Moms Night Out from TriStar Pictures opens May 9. Starring Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings), Sarah Drew (Grey’s Anatomy), Patricia Heaton (The Middle), Trace Adkins {The Lincoln Lawyer) and a superb supporting cast, the film is a non-stop ride of hilarity and heart.

mno bannerThe Erwin Brothers’ road to this particular feature has been an inspiring joyride. Dan Atchison, producer of October Baby, pointed out the one road sign that has always marked the two brothers’ drive for success: tenacity. As teenagers, they bought their own cameras, taught themselves the craft of visual filmmaking and learned to master narrative structure. “Their goal was always to do their own creative content. If you’re passionate about storytelling, like the Erwins are, that is going to show. It’s their unwavering belief that storytelling is important”.

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Jon and Andy’s careers started in their teens as sports cameramen for ESPN. The next year, they started their own production company, doing everything from weddings to promotional videos. That progressed to larger budget commercials, which led to scripting and shooting their first music video for award-winning Christian contemporary artist, Michael W. Smith.

Jon Erwin: Boy, we really found our voice with that video and we had a blast directing! It shot to the top of the music video charts and stayed there for about six weeks. After that, we started getting calls and started doing a lot of music videos. We found that we really loved it – that we could tell these mini-stories. And I think we really fell in love with telling stories. I tell people I am not a filmmaker – I aspire to be a great storyteller. Film is just a medium of telling a story.

Andy and I call what happened, “a hobby that went out of control.” We started working in this business when I was twelve and he was fifteen. And clearly with all we know, we wouldn’t be qualified to flip hamburgers if it weren’t for the entertainment business. I think we’ve kind of lived our lives by that quote from Indiana Jones, where he says, “I don’t know. I’m making this up as I go.” We were just enjoying the work and enjoying telling stories. It was kind of a natural progression to take up documentaries. Both of those weren’t really planned, they just came (The Cross and the Towers, The Mysterious Islands). I think for an honest project in this business, there has to be something that attracts you creatively to the story. And that should be what draws you to the project. Even over the genre or the medium – whether it’s a feature or whatever.

All Tied UpWhile they both function as co-directors, Jon is the credited screenwriter of the group.

Jon: Certainly the way Andy and I work, I gravitate toward the page and he gravitates toward the edit. And we co- direct. They call the edit, “the final rewrite,” and so he likes to refine it more on that version. And it works real well together.

I commented on the “feel good” nature of this film, a departure from their more serious documentaries, as well as their surprise box office hit, October Baby.

Bowling AlleyJon: We’re trying to bring Frank Capra back – the idea of this voice of unrelenting optimism and hope. One of the films that was really one of the influences on this film was Arsenic and Old Lace. Love it for the dialogue and the speed of the movie and the “neurotic-ness”. It was way ahead of its time. I love everything about that idea of examining this whole world of parenting through a mayhem comedy.

Speaking of parenting, Jon shared how he and Andy got involved with this film.

Jon: We were actually prepping another movie and a good friend of mine, Kevin Downes, who’s the producer and actor, brought me this movie. You know what’s funny? And I think this is true of life… The best things in life are a surprise. We make all these plans. Andy and I were prepping an inspirational sports movie, that we’re still very passionate about and intend to do next, and then in comes this comes this script. I read it and I go, “Man, I can’t stop thinking about this!”

Kevin, my brother and I are all parents of toddlers. We’re in that mode of life. The idea that I like is that I’m in this with everyone else – this toddler mayhem. I think what moms really ask themselves a lot is, “Am I doing this right?” “Am I enough?” “Am I failing at this?” “Am I the world’s worst parent?” I think we all face that in some way, shape, or form. I thought the script was very funny. I had a vision for it that was much bigger, and a dream for it that was much bigger, but the essence of it is what I loved. It addressed this question of work and value. My wife asks that question like everyone else. And I love exploring that question in a movie. And hopefully, coming to a very affirming place in the midst of a laugh-out-loud comedy. I can have a chance to say to my wife, and everyone like her, through this movie “You know what? Your job is really important and you’re doing an awesome job.”

On working from an existing script:

Jon: Overall, I love collaborating. I love getting with really passionate people. I think passionate people and really great people thrive on each others’ energy. When it comes to the page, one of the beauties of this business, and the unbelievable madness of this business, is to stare at a blank piece of paper and feel something – and put it on the paper and see it come to life over the period of a few years. Andrea Nasfell had written the first draft of the script and had really born the essence of the “Why” of the film. Trying to find the essence of something is probably one of the most difficult things to do. She’d already figured it out. All I did was come in and put the movie on a much bigger scale… Injected a lot of humor.

That is just the magic of movies. And a magic that I never get tired of.

Home at LastSee Moms’ Night Out in theaters starting May 9. And be sure to visit MomsNightOutMovie.com and Facebook.com/MomsNightOutMovie.

 

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