Sometimes the most important lesson that people can learn is that it’s not how long they live, but how they live the life they have, that truly matters. That’s certainly the case for the two main protagonists in the upcoming adventure film, ‘Then Came You.’ The comedy-drama touchingly emphasizes the fact that people must learn to move past their fears in order to obtain happiness. That important message is highlighted through the story of the two young main characters, who end up teaching each other that they have to not only accept, but also value, the situations they’re in, in order to become truly content.
Peter Hutchings directed ‘Then Came You,’ which was written by Fergal Rock. Shout! Studios is set to release the movie this Friday, February 1, in theaters and On Demand.
‘Then Came You’ follows Calvin Lewis (Asa Butterfield), a 19-year old airport baggage handler who’s struggling to cope with his hypochondria. He’s leading a routine life of working with his father, Bob (David Koechner), and older brother, Frank (Tyler Hoechlin), at the airport, and attending numerous doctor’s appointments, during which the physicians continuously pacify his worries over his false alarms of sickness.
While Calvin has a seemingly happy family life, he’s still carrying remorse about losing his twin sister in a critical car accident many years ago. His mother, Ellen (Ann Osmond), is also still suffering from her own guilt, primarily because she was driving at the time of the crash, which caused her young daughter to die.
Despite the troubles within himself and his family, Calvin surprisingly begins to find comfort at one of his cancer support meetings, even though his doctors have assured him that he doesn’t have the disease. He begins to pond with fellow teen Skye Aitken (Maisie Williams). The outgoing Skye is intrigued by the introverted Calvin, who brushes her off to head to work. But she still determinedly tracks him down at the airport. She informs him that helping someone like him is on her bucket list before she dies, so she enlists him to help her complete the tasks.
Soon, Skye learns that Calvin is romantically interested in flight attendant Izzy (Nina Dobrev), who the duo feels is out of his league. But Izzy actually admits that she’s interested in getting to know Calvin better. As Calvin and Skye become more comfortable and familiar with each other as supportive friends, they set out to help each other find true happiness and achieve their goals, including him asking Izzy out on a date and overcoming his physical and emotional ailments. They help each other learn to confront and conquer their fears and become happier in their life situations.
Hutchings generously took the time recently to talk about directing ‘Then Came You’ during an exclusive phone interview. Among other things, the filmmaker discussed that he was interested in helming the comedy-drama because he immediately fell in love with the characters and the journey they go on together during the first time he read Rock’s screenplay. He also noted that he cast Williams and Butterfield because they not only naturally complemented each other, but they also truly understood the importance of balancing the humorous and serious moments of the story.
The conversation with Hutchings began with him explaining why he was drawn to direct ‘Then Came You.’ He “was sent the script, and I devoured it and fell in love with it. I fell in love with these characters and the journey that they go on together. I laughed and cried more than once while I was reading it. Once I finished it, I knew that this was a movie that I wanted to be a part of it. I had this overwhelming feeling of wanting to participate in bringing the story and characters to life, and sharing it with an audience.”
The filmmaker then delved into what the casting process was like for the comedy-drama. “It was complicated, because the idea behind the film is unique,” he admitted. “There’s a real complicated balance between the humor and drama, and I needed actors who could do both.
“So the first person who came to mind to play Skye was Maisie Williams. I obviously knew her work from ‘Game of Thrones,’ and had also met her a couple of years” before casting began on ‘Then Came You,’ Hutchings revealed. “She’s absolutely delightful, and has a great sense of humor. I just knew she was born to play this role. So we went after her, and thankfully, she felt the same way, and she came on board.”
After Williams was cast, Butterfield joined the movie, the helmer shared. “Their two characters are total polar opposites of each other, but they also had to complement each other. I knew how talented Asa is from his previous work, so I thought he and Maisie would really complement each other. They actually already knew each other, and had spent some time together, so it was a really natural fit between them.”
Hutchings then described Dobrev as “a tremendous talent. So I knew she would fit in as the third pillar of the story. She has this feeling of being unattainable, while also being very grounded and human.” He added that the overall cast “that we were able to put together really blew me away.”
Once the actors were cast, the filmmaker “really encouraged the actors to take the roles on as their own. I told them that I’m not going to lecture them about their characters; instead, I asked them a lot of questions,” he revealed. “That way, the actors could learn about their characters, including their backstories and emotions in each scene. In general, that’s really important to me during the preparation process.”
One of the interesting things that Hutchings was able to do with “Asa and Maisie was an actual therapy session with a psychiatrist, while they were in character. So that helped them learn more about their characters. I thought that was really important on this project, because both of these characters have such deep layers of emotions,” the director shared.
“Asa’s character, Calvin, has a lot of different phobias, and there’s a lot of background behind that, which is shown during the course of the story. Obviously, for Maisie, it was important for her to understand the psychology of going through the process of being diagnosed, and going through life after that,” Hutchings also noted. “So all of the preparation that we did with all of the actors and the crew helped build a foundation that helped us while we shot the movie. So everything feels really organic and natural in the film.”
‘Then Came You’ doesn’t indulge in clichéd conventions of youth-oriented stagnation and alienation, and instead focuses on the sentiment of living for the moment and valuing the little things that matter, despite the size of the adversity. The filmmaker then explained why was it important to him to emphasize the importance of appreciating pure friendship and love, as well as living in the moment, despite the battles the protagonists face.
“We all have to laugh at ourselves, and can’t take ourselves too seriously. While watching the story unfold throughout the movie, having those moments of comedy any time things are getting too serious or dramatic helps lighten the tone. That helps make it easier to engage in the story,” Hutchings emphasized.
“This humor is really ingrained into the characters, in order for it to have an organic effect on the characters, particularly Skye, who’s naturally very funny. But she also uses humor as a defense mechanism,” the helmer explained.
Hutchings added that “The overall story shows that humor can be a virtue that helps people cope with all of the difficulties in life. But it can also be a defense mechanism. So I was really interested in exploring how the comedy works on both of those levels.”
The filmmaker then delved into what the the process of shooting ‘Then Came You’ independently was like, and how it influenced the creativity on the set. “Making the movie independently impacted everything. The main producers on the film, including Claude Dal Farra and Brian Keady, were so wonderful to work with, and so collaborative and creative. They helped foster that in not only my work, but also the work of everyone on the set,” he admirably shared.
“But obviously working on such a short schedule, as most independent movies have to do these days, brings its set of challenges. But it was a really great opportunity; knowing that we only had half-a-day to shoot a scene that we would normally want two days to shoot, for instance, made us really think about what the best way to tell that part of the story with the time and resources that we had. We’d have to use the resources we did have in ways that would have the most impact,” Hutchings admitted.
“But it was really a blessing in disguise, because it made us really think through what we were going to do. We couldn’t rely on everything, including unlimited time and money, being at our disposal,” the director also confessed.
Since the comedy-drama was shot independently, it was primarily filmed in real locations throughout the Hudson Valley in Upstate New York, Hutchings also shared. “I actually live here, and I’ve been looking for years for a project that I could shoot here . Over the past couple of years, there’s been an increase in the tax credits for making movies here, thanks to the Hudson Valley Film Commission. That’s great, because it helps put the local color into the movie.”
The filmmaker also revealed “We were able to shoot for a week at the Albany airport, which wasn’t our original plan. Airports are usually a nightmare to shoot in, but they were so accommodating and welcoming at the Albany airport that we ended up staying there longer than we had planned; we were originally only going to film there for a few days. It was a bit challenging, but also a great experience. Overall, the locations, especially the airport, are major characters in the story. So we cast the locations the same way that we would the actors.”
With ‘Then Came You’ set to be released in theaters and On Demand on Friday, Hutchings then shared that he feels the dual theatrical and VOD release is beneficial for an indie film like this one. “This is a movie that I think is intimate and personal, but also has a wide appeal. I think people of all ages can really love it. I’m particularly excited for young people to find it. But the responses that I received from people in their 30s, 40s and 50s, and even up to their 80s, while I brought it on the film festival circuit was great. People have really been finding themselves in the characters and the story,” which the helmer appreciates.
Hutchings added that the positive response that he’s received so far “has helped the movie reach the general public, which will allow more people to find it. That’s really exciting, and I’m happy about the On Demand distribution. Having the theatrical release with that is also great, because the people who live in the cities where it’s playing can have the communal theatrical experience. That will also help bring awareness to the movie. I hope that everyone will have the chance to see the film, whether its through the digital or theatrical release, and enjoy it.”