Must Watch Movie: ‘Short Term 12 ‘
Must Watch Movie: ‘Short Term 12 ‘Jan 24
About The Film
“Short Term 12 is a 2013 American drama film written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, based on his short film of the same title and starring Brie Larson, John Gallagher, Jr., Keith Stanfield and Kaitlyn Dever. The film premiered at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival, where it won both the Grand Jury Narrative Feature Award and the Narrative Audience Award. Critical response to the film has been overwhelmingly positive, calling it ‘a roller coaster of every emotion, managing to be both heartwarming and heartrending at once’. The film was released theatrically in the United States on August 23, 2013.”
“A feature film depicting the struggles of a compassionate twentysomething contending with some unexpected life developments while working as a supervisor at a home for at-risk teens. Grace (Brie Larson) has dedicated her life to helping kids who have slipped through the cracks of the system. Committed to her job and in love with kindhearted co-worker Mason (John Gallagher Jr.), she’s still struggling to make sense of her own troubled past when she learns that her life is about to change forever. Meanwhile, into the facility walks a young girl who’s been constantly shifted between group homes due to dangerous behavior. Almost immediately, Grace forges a powerful connection with her new charge. Now if Grace can just open up to Mason the way she encourages her kids to open up to her, she may find a way to make peace with the future while still providing support to the kids who depend on her the most.”
— Jason Buchanan, Rovi – Rotten Tomatoes
About Short Term 12
The world of group homes is not an unfamiliar one to SHORT TERM 12 writer/director Destin Daniel Cretton. In fact, he loosely modeled one of the film’s characters, Nate — an unsure newcomer to the line staff at the facility — after himself.
“After I graduated from college [Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego], I couldn’t find work, and a friend of mine mentioned a group home for at-risk teenagers that was hiring,” the director recalls. On his first day, a seemingly nice kid had a lovely chat with Cretton — and then blew up and threw a chair at him from across the room. “It was by far, one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had — at first. I was really afraid of doing something wrong and messing up these kids more than they already were. But after a month or so, I fell in love with it.” He stayed on for two years.
It is an experience that stuck with Cretton, even as the Hawaii native was getting his Master’s Degree in Film and New Media from San Diego State University. There, a few years later, he created a 20 minute short for his thesis project, titled “Short Term 12” — based on his experiences at the home. The film went on to win the Jury Prize at Sundance in 2009 — and prompted Cretton to make a feature version. “I was kind of a novice filmmaker, and somebody told me that if you were going to Sundance, you’d better have a feature script ready. So I wrote one.” That script eventually found its way to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where it was one of five scripts in 2010 to win the Nicholl Fellowship. “That was a big stamp of approval,” he says.
The short had featured a male, named Denim, as the lead supervisor of the home’s “Line Staff,” the home’s counselors who tend to the kids each day. But for the feature version, Cretton decided to switch things around, creating a new character, Grace, in the supervisor’s role.
Cast in the role was actress BRIE LARSON, of whom Cretton was a fan — not only for the searing emotional role she played in Oren Moverman’s “Rampart” (as Woody Harrelson’s eldest daughter), but for her comedic work on “United States of Tara.” “She’s just so raw and spontaneous, even in comedy scenes,” the director says. “She always feels like she’s shooting from her instincts, as opposed to some kind of pre-planned, rehearsed performance.”
Larson, who was filming another project in Georgia, was sent the script, and immediately connected. “Within 10 pages, it was just a role that really spoke to me,” the actress says. “I felt it had a lot of great architecture to it, and was just a big space for me to work and play with.” She and Cretton spoke via Skype, and, says the director, “I saw Grace very quickly in her. She was really funny, but she also had something about her that was extremely thoughtful. She would stop and think about things, and it was in those moments where I saw a combination of intensity and lightness, and I knew she would kick ass as Grace. And she did.”
The actress immediately dove in to develop her character, the director notes. “She worked her tail off to get under Grace’s skin, and it was a joy to watch. She asked smart questions and devoured as much information as she could, to become an expert not on group homes, but on Grace — and the different things she could be feeling at every moment. It’s the reason her performance is believable and realistic — she had a specific take on everything for her. She never does the same thing twice.”