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The Lather Effect (2006)

eric stoltz,the lather effect,movie posterThe Lather Effect is a comedic drama written by Sarah Kelly (who also directed the film) and Tim Talbott. It premiered at the at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June 2006 and was released on DVD in May 2008. In Australia, the film is known as “One More Night.”


A group of high-school friends in their mid-30s reunite for an out-of-control ‘Come As You Were’ weekend. But the morning after may expose that some flames still burn, certain secrets must be revealed, and the greatest song of all time is always up for debate.


Connie Britton (Valinda), Sarah Clarke (Claire), Tate Donovan (Will), William Mapother (Jack), Ione Skye (Zoey), Eric Stoltz (Mickey), Caitlin Keats (Katrina), Peter Facinelli (Danny), David Herman (Corey)

lather effect,eric stoltzSome background on the film, from an interview with Sarah Kelly:

How did this film get rolling at the beginning? Give us a brief history from writing to production to post to just last night.

I actually threw an ’80’s themed party in April of 2004, and was so impressed with how hard core people got – from the costumes to the quarters-playing to the break dancing – and how nostalgic the party seemed to make everyone feel, that I knew there was a movie in there somewhere. I was already going through an intense period of “missing,” and realizing that I wasn’t the only one inspired me to try to write a movie for my generation of grown-up teenagers. I wanted it to be the kind of movie I had been waiting 20 years for John Hughes to make… a kind of follow up to The Breakfast Club. I was also inspired – obviously – by The Big Chill, but wanted it to be a fun homage as opposed to a remake. The idea was to have the movie be basically just one giant nod to all the movies and filmmakers and songs and iconography of the ’80’s. And the other idea was to write something that would be fairly simple to actually GET MADE. I was sick of NOT making a movie, and this seemed like a doable, tangible possibility. I gave myself a year to accomplish it, and with the help of my producer Rachel Rothman, my casting director Karen Meisels, my editor Darren Ayres (who helped me shoot a teaser for the film) and the commitment and encouragement from my mentor Eric Stoltz, it just seemed to get WILLED into being.

Our shooting schedule was only 3 weeks, and our budget was tight, but the whole cast and crew just came together seamlessly and managed to pull it off without a hitch and did it all while having a total blast. And the best part, for me, was the fact that the actors all truly loved each other, and so quickly and convincingly developed their own language, which made it really feel like they were a group of friends who had known each other for 20 years. We had a mandatory and intense week of rehearsal before shooting, which I think was invaluable, and really got everyone in the right mind frame and comfort level. I totally lucked out with these actors – and I’m so proud of their performances and grateful for their talent.

Editing was a magical time – just me and Darren and the footage, holed up in his dining room/edit bay – with the occasional drop in from Rachel and Stoltz (who was extraordinarily helpful and nurturing) and my brother Dominic who did the awesome score. It’s hard to explain how both satisfying and bittersweet the editing process is, but it just is. Every time we’d finish a scene I would feel both excited and sad, because I knew that the movie was being born, but that it was going to have to grow up and leave the nest at some point. I couldn’t wait to see it finished, but I didn’t want it to end. It’s an emotional, exciting time.

And then comes the mixing and all the final touches, which is so fun but feels so rushed. You have to make final decisions that will last forever, and you have no time to make them. But I loved all of it, and tried to stay zen. The zen doesn’t last long though, because then it’s time to show the movie to the world (or to a film festival audience) and you just hope and pray they’ll love your baby as much as you do.

And then the worst time comes, when you’re just waiting to see if your baby will find a home. And apart from the time way back when you were waiting to see if your movie could even get made, it’s the absolutely most frustrating part about the whole process. The “wait and see” time. But luckily, during the “wait and see” you get to go to festivals all over the country, and meet clones of yourself who and in the same boat, and you feel understood and lucky and just happy to be a filmmaker.

And that brings me to last night, which is the final part of this in-depth question. I was feeling about as understood and lucky and happy as a filmmaker ever could, watching a movie up at Quentin Tarantino’s home screening room with a bunch of fun people who just love movies. —, February 2007

DVD ON AMAZON: The Lather Effect


• Audio Commentary by Director Sarah Kelly, Editor Darren Ayers, and Producer/Actor Eric Stoltz
• “The Making of The Lather Effect”
• Deleted Scenes
• “The Cameron Effect”
• “The Importance of Being an Earnest PA”
• Trailer


As for added content, this digital presentation is nicely accented. There is an in-depth and very funny full-length audio commentary with Kelly, editor Darren Ayres, and producer/star Stoltz. It offers explanations into some of the film’s more elusive elements, as well as catty anecdotes about a few of the cast members (right, Tate?). The behind-the-scenes featurette also fills in some blanks, though it’s really nothing more than presskit puffery. The 20 minutes of deleted scenes add context, but not much else, and two additional segments—”The Cameron Effect” and “The Importance of Being an Earnest PA”—discuss Kelly’s obsession with a certain Say Anything writer/director, as well as the filmmaker’s previous gig as a production assistant. All in all, it’s not a bad selection of supplemental material.

Certainly, there are some aspects of The Lather Effect that work better than others, and in the end, this is just another example of individuals who should have known better finally learning that lesson. But thanks to the crackerjack cast and the light-fingered filmmaking of Sarah Kelly, this is one get-together you’ll be happy to attend—at least, for a little while. —


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