Bandslam: Slammin' Summer Movie
Going through HSM withdrawal? Craving a cool music movie with a good plot? Then you might want to check out Bandslam, the rockin' new movie starring Vanessa Hudgens and Gaelan Connell, not to mention Alyson Michalka (of Aly & AJ fame!) and Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights TV fabulousness!). We nailed EXCLUSIVE interviews with some help from our Scholasic Kid Reporters: Trinity, Alyssa, and Lori.
First, a bit about the movie. Gaelan Connell plays Will, the new kid at school. He's kind of a loner, kind of awkward. But he knows a TON about music. He befriends Charlotte (Alyson Michalka) the popular, ex-cheerleader/singer, who convinces him to manage her band. She appears to have one goal in mind: to beat her ex-boyfriend's band and get a record contract in a battle of the bands. Along the way Will meets Sa5m (the “5” is silent) played by Vanessa Hudgens and romance brews. Will their band be able to face the music on their climb to the top?
Q KID REPORTER LORI:
Can you start by telling us a little bit about your character?
Gaelan: My character is Will, and he's this really awkward — basically me — just this awkward, dorky guy whose best friend is his mom (played by Lisa Kudrow). And when you're a teenager, and you're best friends with your mom, it's not really too good of a social life. So he does have one thing he's got going for him, this musical genius, this encyclopedic knowledge of music. Then he moves to New Jersey,where he decides to help start a rock band and manage it and tell them what's good and bad and bring them members and stuff.
Q (to Vanessa): Your character, Sam, spends a lot of time
with her nose in a book. Why does she
like to read and what does reading mean to you?
Vanessa: Well, reading for me recently has been a lot of scripts. But it's a great thing. It lets you escape everything that's going on in reality and puts you wherever you want to be. It puts you on a journey and I think that's part of the reason why Sam loves it. She says in the movie that it's the only part of her life that she can control, so I guess it has something to do with it.
Q KID REPORTER TRINITY (to Alyson): Tell us
about your character, Charlotte.
Alyson: I think she's one of those characters that you can relate with because she has struggled with herself, and her own confidence as being a good person. And she's really a great musician and kind of started the band, and definitely has this edge to her at the same time. [But] I think she has a really soft side to her as well.
Q KID REPORTER LORI (to Scott): How are you
similar or dissimilar to your character?
Scott: Similar to Ben just in the fact that he loves music, and that's what he wants to do. That's what I did for years. I was a professional beat boxer and singer for seven years before I became an actor, and I mean, I came into Friday Night Lights from theater in New York. I'd never done screen before that.
Q KID REPORTER LORI: What were you like in
Scott: I was weird. I was all over the board. I was the only kid who ever sang the Star-Spangled Banner at the football game with my helmet under my arm. I was the starting line receiver for four years and almost played football in college, but I was in all the AP classes. I was going to be a structural engineer and go to Carnegie Mellon. And I was also in chorus. So it's kind of like the chorus nerd who took all the gifted classes who also played football. So I didn't belong to any one clique. I knew everybody, and everybody knew who I was, but I wasn't like invited to all the parties, you know.
[RATHA: What a great mix! Defying stereotypes everywhere!]
plot involves rock bands and school bands.
Do your characters sing in the movie?
Vanessa: I do. I have a song. It's called “Everything I Own” by Bread.
[RATHA: Love this song! Check it out!]
Gaelan: I do not. My whole character is basically that I know everything about music, but I can't actually play it or anything. But it's actually kind of ironic, because in real life I play cello, and I play guitar and I'm in this band, called Sweet Sixteen. It's like candy in a blender with rock and roll.
[RATHA: Nice! I'll have to watch for their debut album.]
Q: What's on your
iPod right now?
Vanessa: I go back and forth between the hip-hop world, like Lil Wayne and Kanye, to The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, to Kings of Leon. It just depends on how I'm feeling at that given point!
Gaelan: My guilty pleasure music is Switchfoot and I will put that on and never tell my friends that I listen to it. But I went to school in New York City so there's all these obscure bands that nobody knows about that are probably on my iPod.
Q: Where did you go to school here in the city?
Gaelan: I went to NYU at Tisch for film.
Q KID REPORTER LORI: How did you prepare for
Vanessa: I [learned to] play the guitar. That was the director's idea. We had two weeks of music rehearsals because I had to learn how to play, because I didn't know how to play! It went really well. I finally actually got it down, and got calluses on my fingers.
[RATHA: Yeowch! Now that's what I call dedication.]
Q KID REPORTER ALYSSA: Can you use one word
or sentence to describe your co-stars Gaelan, Scott, and Vanessa?
Alyson: Fun and rad. They're a really fun cast. I've gotten to know them really well, and I think that they're just cool people that are normal, and we all kind of have our own quirks and our own little thing that make us who we are, and we get along. We all just completely fell in love with each other as in just wanting to be around each other all the time like best friends, like hanging out, like totally got each other's back.
Vanessa: Aly—I want to say bookworm. She's always reading a book. But she's really fun; she's a really sweet girl. Scott — entertainer. He would stand in front of the crowd, and he has this amazing talent to beat box and like make an electric guitar sound with his mouth. It's amazing. And Gaelan is probably innocent.
Q KID REPORTER LORI: What has been your
favorite scene to film?
Alyson: Probably the scene with Lisa Kudrow. I love her. She's such a great actress, and she has great timing. It's just amazing to be able to work with someone like her. It's like sometimes you don't get that experience from another actor. And she's been around for so long — how many things and projects she's done. She's really successful and humble at the same time, which is so cool. She's just a really, really cool lady.
[RATHA: Lisa Kudrow rocks! I never missed Friends every Thursday night. . . eating ramen noodles on my futon in my first apartment in the late 90's . . . aah the memories come rushing back.]
Q KID REPORTER ALYSSA: What's it like working
with your sister all the time?
Alyson: It's fun. AJ and I know each other so well. We were on set, and we were talking, and she's like, 'Yeah, totally.' Like we both were thinking the same thing. When anything is going on, we're usually on the same page.
Q KID REPORTER LORI: What's going on with the
next Aly and AJ record?
Alyson: Me and AJ are really looking forward to the next record. I think I'm the most excited about the record than any of the records we've done just because we've had some changes in our life and new experiences. We've been writing and stuff. Last time AJ and I were talking about it, I think we said we want to make a rock record — not screaming, not that kind of record. But a rock record. That's kind of the direction that we're steering into. So I think that the fans will be a little surprised, but I think it will be a good surprise, something that's necessary for us to be who we are.
Q KID REPORTER LORI: Who would you like to
see Aly and AJ take on in a battle of the bands?
Alyson: The Jonas Brothers. Me just saying the Jonas Brothers is probably good enough.
Q KID REPORTER ALYSSA: What's the craziest
thing a fan has done to get your attention?
Alyson: Wear a shirt with their phone number on it. That's pretty crazy. AJ said she saw it in the audience at some show. I was going, 'What do you mean?' and she's like, 'There's a person with their number on their shirt, their area code and everything.'
[RATHA: That IS crazy! Don't try that at home kids! Definitely NOT a safe way to give your crush your phone number!]
Q KID REPORTER LORI: Are there any
behind-the-scenes details people might not realize when they see the movie?
Gaelan: Well, one of the coolest things is all the bands in the movie are all real bands. So we shot with like six different local bands, including the one we make in the movie. And they're all alive and well, and when the movie comes out it will be like, hey, remember that band? Let's go look them up online, and get the songs they play in the movie.
Q KID REPORTER LORI: Have you had any
embarrassing moments or bloopers on set?
Vanessa: Yeah. Oh my gosh. I'm not sure it'll be on the bloopers real, but right before a take, me and Gaelan — and he's going to kill me for telling you guys this — it was right before the take, and the way it was set up was we were walking down the hall, and the camera started off so you couldn't see us. And he farted. And we had mics on, and I was like, 'Oh my God, you farted!' And finally Todd called action, and so we started to do the scene. And he looked back at me, and I just couldn't help myself and I fell to the floor in laughter.
[RATHA: Oops! Maybe he had a bean burrito for lunch?]
Q KID REPORTER LORI: What is it about Bandslam you think is going to resonate
Scott: I think teens are hungry for an intelligent story with heart. I think that there's a lot of popcorn kind of light pop teen stuff that the older generation feels they're making for kids. But kids are growing up a lot quicker nowadays than they used to, and I think this is a breath of fresh air just because it's a story with intelligence and heart, and where the characters aren't so superficial.
These characters so well-written and developed. I mean, it would be so easy for a character like Ben Wheatley to be a typical jerk ex-boyfriend, jock, idiot, moron, but he's not. The kid's focused and wants to have a great career. But at the same time, he really loves the people around him, cares for his friends, and when he feels that they're threatened kind of acts in a very immature way. But that's what happens in real life. I think that kids are a lot more intelligent than adults give them credit for. And I think that movie's going to play to that side of them.
[RATHA: Right on!!!]
Q KID REPORTER LORI: What advice do you have
for young girls who want to become a part of the movie industry?
Vanessa: I'd say start out small. There's nothing too small for you to start out in. I started doing musical theatre as a kid at the local community theater, and my role was as small as like Girl #7. You just have to start somewhere, and I just think that no opportunity is too small. Just go for it with all you want.
Q: If you could recommend three books to someone
like thirteen fourteen years old, what books would you recommend? Or what's your favorite book of all time?
Vanessa: It's kind of sappy, but Jodie Picoult, My Sister's Keeper [for Grades 9-12]. It's really sweet, and she's an incredible writer.
Gaelan: Well, when I was growing up, I used to read a lot of Fred Bowen. He writes all those sports things. Obviously, Fred Bowen. [Check out this one, The Final Cut]:
Another one that I loved was The Golden Compass:
And A Wrinkle in Time. That was good. It's so important [to read]. I love sitting down and getting to read a book. And kids growing up need to remember that.
[RATHA: Agreed! A good book is my favorite brain candy too!]
So there you have it! Now that you have the inside scoop on the stars and the movie, are you going to check it out? Bandslam (rated PG) opens August 14th. Give us a shout and let us know what you think!
— Ratha, STACKS Writer
interviews conducted by Marie Morreale
Galen/Vanessa/Alyson/Scott interviews conducted by Scholastic Kid Reporters Trinity, Alyssa, and Lori
Videos and photos courtesy of Summit Entertainment and Walden Media