This will be my 200th post for DC Metblogs and I’m really excited.
Not because I’ve shilled my way to 200 on the post count, but because of the magic of social media which led to the coolest star interaction yet (sorry LeBron, you were cool but she’s been in more films.)
Of course I’m talking about my conversation yesterday with the lovely Melora Hardin (actress, singer, dancer, and most notably Jan from The Office), who is in Washington, DC to attend the DC Prism showcase and screen her new film, You. Our talk was arranged not through press requests sent to the Metblogs inbox (which you can find here if you do want to reach out to us) but through a Twitter conversation we had last month.
Now we all have probably sent a tweet do celebrity like Chad OchoCinco or Barack Obama, and if we are lucky we get a reply.I must have the best luck in the world to get more than a reply, but when talking to Melora on the topic she actually thinks social media is underused, and is fully embracing it for the release of her latest film You. “Grassroots is kinda the way we are releasing the film- so for us it’s really exciting to be interviewing with people that live [in DC],” Melora told me, “I would like more people to reach out when I’m coming to their city and say I’d really love to interview you for my paper or my website or whatever…I’m really approachable and available and interaction and it’s what I want to do for my movie.” Hardin is also taking a grassroots approach to the film’s distribution by releasing the film on iTunes and Amazon.
Going the extra publicity mile for the film, You, is only the start of Melora’s work on the project, which she also directed and produced. The film was written by her husband, Gildart Jackson, who wrote the screenplay while away on an acting job; Melora was so moved after reading it that she wanted to take her husband’s screenplay from paper to film and asked if she could direct. It was at that moment that the project became more than a film, but a family affair.
Hardin reached out to her family to work on the film, like her mother and father who also act. She asked friends like Brenda Strong, and Alex Mack to play parts and got her best friend Paula Cole to contribute to the soundtrack. It was clear that for Hardin and Jackson, this wasn’t an ordinary film, but an intimate and emotional expression, “It’s just a beautiful beautiful love story, an amazing love letter from me to my husband…I feel that my husband wrote a love letter to me with the film and I wrote a love letter back to him with the film that I made.”
The film revolves around a recent widower (Jackson) who raises his daughter on his own while dealing with the loss of his wife (Hardin.) The film is a coming-of-age film for both father and daughter and Melora told me that the film is more than a piece that deals with grief, but one that really celebrates love and the ones you love. “It cracks the heart wide open and says to appreciate the people in your life that you love and that love you and I think that’s an amazing message.”
Unlike Melora’s past big studio projects like The Office, Hannah Montana: The Movie, and 17 Again; You became a personal endeavor that was produced on a much smaller scale. Besides directing, acting, and producing; Melora took on even the most smallest of jobs such as craft service, all while financing the film out of their own pockets, “we made the film in 18 days with our own money and in our own home as well as many locations donated by friends and family. Though it was fast and furious, we were determined to make it a good experience for all and Gildart and I frequently scrambled eggs in the morning (while simultaneously getting hair and makeup) so that everyone would have a hot breakfast! Other friends brought their signature dishes for lunches and dinners.”
In the end though Melora told me she’s proud and exciting about the end product, she hopes that You reaches out to audiences and touches them the same way the project touched her family. “It’s my way to make a difference and inspire other to celebrate life- it’s a wonderful by-product of what I do for a living and what I do for a passion.”