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
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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