Katie Welch Talks "Prom"
Fri, 29 Apr 2011 17:36:15
Some of the things we learn in high school do prove useful later on in "the real world." Just ask Prom screenwriter Katie Welch.
"I was the prom planner," she says with the smile. "I definitely had that to draw from while writing the script."
Welch has gone from planning the prom to creating one in the big screen in Disney's Prom. Welch's characters come to life vividly and vibrantly from her smart, spunky, and slick script. However, she also breaks with certain conventions and pens Prom that audiences have never attended. That's what makes the movie so enjoyable ultimately…
Screenwriter Katie Welch spoke to ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino in this exclusive interview about Prom, some music that inspired her, and so much more…
How did you approach writing Prom?
Well, I started with my own experience. At the heart of the story, I definitely wanted to put a character who wants to plan the perfect night only to learn that the best nights in life are the ones you can't plan for. I had an unlikely romance in high school with a bad boy type. It was a little experience with a ponytail-wearing troublemaker who irked faculty members [Laughs]. My guy drove a convertible instead of a commando though; I wasn't on the back of any motorcycle. It started from there, and the rest of the story evolved from research and listening to stories. I wanted to tell fresh stories about people anticipating that night for better or worse.
Which character resonates with you the most?
Nova would probably be the most similar to me, although she actually had more fun on her prom night than I did. There's something of me in every character I write though. Even if the actual plotlines aren't autobiographical, the emotions tended to be on some level. I feel very close to all of the characters from the guy that can't a date with the internal frustration that he's doing something wrong to the sophomore girl stuck in this conundrum of trying to figure out which boy to trust.
Is it important for the audience to grasp each emotion and feeling?
It is! I remember watching movies as a teenager where I really felt like I saw myself reflected or I saw emotions that I could connect to. You're trying to build characters that capture the heart of these movies.
What were some of those movies that affected you?
Cheesy comedy is my first love so everything from Big and Freaky Friday to Groundhog's Day and Ghostbusters. The John Hughes movies in particular were films that I not only saw myself in but actually wondered if I could do that. Those movies started the thought process of trying to become a writer. I was just this girl from an average sized town in Michigan. So I don't know how seriously I imagined that it could be a real possibility for me, but it was one that I ultimately ended up pursuing. Here I am now!
Which music were you listening to while writing the film?
I listen to a broad range of stuff. I always make soundtracks for the movies that I'm writing while I write them. Then, I listen to those in order every day from start to finish. The soundtracks for my writing expand as the script does. I had a couple Merle Haggard songs like "Mama Tried". That was when I was imagining my bad boy character. I like Kaiser Chiefs a lot. I think there's an anthem-y, high school feeling in a lot of their songs. Vampire Weekend provided the right cadence and energy for a lot of the stuff I was trying to do. "Young Blood" by The Naked and Famous was a song I was listening to. I loved that it ended up showing up in some of our early trailers. The song has a retro feel, but it's also very relevant and contemporary.
Will you be seeing Prom?