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ENDLESS LOVE

About The Production
The idea to draw inspiration from Scott Spencer's 1979 best-selling novel about teenage lovers and bring those themes to young moviegoers in the 21st century originated with producers Scott Stuber and Pamela Abdy, who, early on, attracted a pair of ideal collaborators. Although this all-consuming territory has been explored in films for much older audiences, they were interested in taking an exploration of a love so intense that nothing will stand in its way and making it relatable for a "PG-13" audience.

Abdy shares the film's inception: "When Scott and I talked about doing Endless Love as a film, we thought it would be a good idea to approach Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, who are the king and queen of the teen genre. They have created such wonderful, smart work that speaks to that generation: The O.C. and Gossip Girl and now The Carrie Diaries. At that point, the development process began and we worked to make the best, most contemporary version of a teenage first-love story."

Stuber shared his fellow producers' interest in developing the material. He notes: "I thought this was a great way to explore two people who have the ups and downs of their first love. The first time that you feel those emotions, there's euphoria to them, and this great love expands who you are. As well, there's a great sadness when it goes wrong. You feel it on such a level that you can't again, as there is only one first time."

For Schwartz, the challenge was to ensure that the film would both honor the classic movie melodrama and feel like a current, relevant romance. "Stephanie and I have worked together for a long time, and we love classic teen drama," he says. "When you're telling a story about teenagers, everything seems so heightened and feels like life and death. We wanted to create a modern-day epic love story that still feels grounded, believable and has a bit of a 'Romeo and Juliet' quality to it."

With this telling of the classic story, the producers believed that their Jade Butterfield and David Elliot should discover the beautiful abandonment and repercussions of falling into your first love. They knew that the intended audience would see and experience a great deal of their own first relationships in this drama.

"I love romantic movies and love stories," offers Savage, "and something that is always a huge part in the TV shows that Josh and I do is the theme of young people falling in love for the first time-losing themselves, making good and bad decisions and going on a journey-which is relatable for everybody. You've either been in love and had your heart broken or you want to be in love. Even when you get older, you often think about that teenage love and the first time that you fell."

Schwartz and Savage developed the script for Endless Love with Joshua Safran, one of the duo's Gossip Girl writers, with whom they had worked for years. Whereas Spencer's novel has somewhat more political and darker elements than this film, the producers remain grateful for its inspiration and took liberties with his characters and narrative. Commends Savage: "Josh is smart and is a terrific, emotional writer; we love his voice. We knew he would understand the elevated world of Jade's family and bring to this original script the story of a family that had suffered and hadn't recovered from the loss of their son. As well, he could help the audience understand how David, this scrappy kid from the other side of the tracks, comes into their lives and ignites Jade's heart."

After organizing the core team and commissioning a draft, the producers approached Country Strong's Shana Feste to direct. As Schwartz notes: "Shana came in with such a great sensibility about the material. She has an acute understanding of character and love stories. Most importantly, she vividly remembers being a teenager and tapped into many of the things that appealed to the rest of us about the story."

Savage agrees with her fellow producer's assessment: "Shana had directed two previous movies that had amazing performances, especially from young actors. We knew that if we could get Shana to direct the movie it would feel authentic. Her belief in love and the theme of the movie is imbued in every scene; lightness, warmth and hopefulness permeate through everything."

Once Feste signed on to the project, she tailored the script to her sensibilities. Abdy explains: "The life of each character is important to Shana, and she's thought through every stage- from working through the story and writing the script to figuring out the characters' relationships and how they were intertwined."

The writers imagined Jade as a sheltered and inexperienced high-school senior who falls for David, a dangerous young man with a dark history. Her father strongly objects to the passionate relationship that's blossoming and the newfound freedom that Jade's discovering with a guy he is certain is wrong for her. There's little he can do about her evolution or David's increasing presence and influence upon her. In fact, Jade's intense feelings for David are a constant, thorny reminder to both her father and mother of what has slowly died in their marriage. As Jade consciously says goodbye to her innocent past, she has an awakening that will change both of them forever.

Stuber found soulfulness to Feste's approach to the material, one that echoed a classic fairy tale. He explains: "In the way that Jade is articulated, she's Rapunzel. She's a girl who had a brother who died of cancer, which inevitably made her mother and father that much more of helicopter parents. The loss of a child is the worst thing that could happen to anyone, and that loss manifests itself in different ways. In the case of Jade's father, it turned him into an overbearing man who has limited his daughter's ability to be a real person in high school. She's lost out on those years and is a girl in a gilded cage until David breaks her out of it. He can see her for who she really is."

Feste elaborates upon her interest in the project: "I wanted to direct this film because I wanted to make a contemporary love story. I was immediately drawn to the idea of making a movie about falling in love and exploring themes that are important to me-being brave and putting love first. To have that message reach hundreds of thousands of people in this generation is an amazing opportunity."

The writer/director aimed to create an experience that would have the audience rooting for our couple. Her goal was to expose the intensity and passion of first love, and she was determined to put that into each frame of the movie. The director shares: "I wanted a happy ending for this story. I wanted our characters to win, and I wanted love to win. That's the story that I wanted to tell: that real love, your first love, can be the most powerful."

She continues: "I thought a lot about 'Romeo and Juliet' when I was writing and was also inspired by the photography of Ryan McGinley. The connection to teenagers in his work feels inclusive, fun and young and sexy. I didn't want the characters' love to feel portrayed from a distance. I wanted it to feel like we were experiencing it. McGinley's photography lets you be in the world of his subjects, and that's how I wanted to feel when I was watching Jade and David. David is a brooding, yet charming, guy who awakens this wonderful, ethereal girl for the first time."

The self-described romantic admits that what also drew her to the project was her personal experience of seeing a love story told on screen for the first time. "I want what I experienced when I saw my first love story," she says. "I walked away from that theater thinking, 'I cannot wait to fall in love. I can't wait to meet that guy and have all of that.' That's what I want every girl in the audience to think when they watch this movie."

Abdy was moved by how Feste and Safran had so beautifully captured the intimacy and explosiveness of first love. She offers: "The script gave us a Jade and David who were feeling something they've never felt before: this love and passion and desire to be happy. But there are other people that don't understand that feeling, who may have once found that feeling with someone but have lost it now, so David and Jade have to be brave and fight for it." Agreeing with her director's sentiment, Abdy sums: "The movie is about embracing that love again, believing that no matter what age you are, everyone can feel love and passion."

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