“You’re not supposed to come back, when you’ve already left the nest,” says Alexis Bledel, as her character Ryden Malby in this summer’s Post Grad. Some of us certainly know how that feels. I, for one, am no exception to that feeling. Graduating in one of the worst job markets to graduate in doesn’t make nest escape routes very easy to find.
In fact, the timing of Post Grad’s release couldn’t be any better. August 21 (This Friday). Just at the tip of the summer’s edge, where we’d usually all be getting ready to go back to college, except that this time, there’s nothing to go back to. No dorm room or apartment waiting for you in a far off place somewhere among autumn leaves. No professors waiting with a syllabus. This time, there’s no schedule planned out and there are no parties to go to.
Instead, the dining hall is the kitchen table, and your dorm is your childhood bedroom. Your suitemates? Your parents. The party’s on craigslist and once again, it’s a bit over-packed, but there’s no police there to kick anyone out. Everyone wants a job. Everyone wants independence and so does Ryden Malby – the main character in the movie Post-Grad. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that in my mind, Alexis Bledel is actually still Rory Gilmore who just graduated from Yale and is starting her life, but that’s a different story.
I spoke to Kelly Fremon, the screenwriter and inspiration behind Post Grad’s story. Take a look at what she had to say about her movie, her career and her very own post grad experience:
Where did you draw your inspiration from for the characters and stories in Post-Grad?
I started writing this after I graduated from college and was in a very similar situation. I thought I had everything mapped out. Instead, I was on my parents couch for 8 months. I feel like it’s so weird. The transition. You’ve spent all these years having a plan. You know what you need to do. A to B to C. Once you get out into the real world, nothing is planned out. There’s no “if you do this, then this” – none of that logic. I felt like a big loser, and so I ended up starting to write about it. A bunch of friends I knew were in similar situations and it seemed kind of like a phenomenon. I sort of started writing this like therapy and then, once I had some distance and had a job, I could pick it back up with some perspective, finish it and figure out what the lessons were.
In the movie, Ryden talks about how hard it is to come back to the nest. What’s the most frustrating thing about going back home after graduation?
It was just very bizarre to have had all this freedom in college. You come and you go you; eat what you want. All of sudden you’re back with your parents. It’s their house. You’re playing by their rules. You have to be really nice because they are doing you this big fat favor. You’re clearly indebted to them. I felt like that I had taken a big step backward. I thought “And now I’m moving onto my big magnificent life.” And then I was like …wait a minute…I’m going back home? All of this studying and tuition …it was supposed to have this big giant payoff. I also realize I think I had a sense of entitlement. “I did all this so of course, I should be able to claim my reward now.” It was huge awakening – Nobody cares.
In the movie, Ryden Malby’s family is quite quirky and weird, like everyone else’s. What kind of quirky things about your family have made you into who you are today?
My family is definitely…they’re crazy. Everybody is a total character. I feel like they just made me appreciate the little details about people and their quirks and eccentricities. My family definitely showed me how to pay attention to the little things in life. You get so wrapped up in your big plan, that you miss all the little things.
How did you know you wanted to get into screenwriting?
I always just wanted to write. Ever since I was little. I used to love closing my door; I would sit with my little diary and just write and write. In college, I started doing these one woman shows. I would write these various quirky characters and perform them. I thought, “How can I make a career out of this?” I ended doing an internship at a production company and reading my first script. That’s when I realized that these characters that I had been doing worked very well in a screenplay medium.
When you were looking for jobs, how many positions did you interview for?
I probably interviewed at about 25 different places. Everywhere from car dealerships to positions like the person who goes around and stocks coke machines.
What was the weirdest job you applied for?
My one big thing was – I interviewed at a bird magazine. In my mind, this was like the coolest job out of all of them. I thought…”maybe I’d get to do something like that.” I was all over the map. I just knew I wanted to write, but writing is such a weird career. You can’t just get a job to do it. I needed to get some job, any job, to subsidize my writing. Having so many options, I think actually screwed myself over.
Ryden makes several mistakes in her job interviews. Did you make any funny mistakes like that?
I finally got to the point, where I was sending out my resumes and nobody would bite. I didn’t know why. Finally, I decided …I’m just going to write this really funny over-the-top resume. I tried to write down the annoying things that I wouldn’t do. That was one of the first interviews I got, because I had written this crazy cover letter and resume…the silly ways to get your foot in the door.
How did you get your foot in the door?
Someone gave me an idea as starting as a temp. I started as a receptionist at the Fox publicity department. I started there and it ended up turning into a full time position. I transitioned to being the front desk person and then the shipping person. All that time, I was writing at night. I finished this movie. And gave it to a bunch of people and it landed in the hands of an agent …who still my agent today. I got really lucky. I feel like I got a winning lottery ticket in a way. I couldn’t really imagine that this was going to pan out. My dad used to tell me jokes about how you can walk down the street in LA and ask any person how their screenplay is going.
What kind of advice can you give to college students and college grads?
You know, I think I would have wanted someone to tell me to not be in such a huge rush. I could not wait to get a job. Once you get one…you’re like “oh my god, I am going to do this for the rest of my life.” You wonder why you were such a big fat rush to get there. Try to get the best out of the time you have. I don’t know. If you have that extra time…if you can go travel. Even just a road trip across the state. Do things you can’t do as much when you have a job. I’m going to give you the worst advice ever. Even if you have to take a credit card to do it, go do it – travel. Start writing the list of all the places you’ve always wanted to see and food you wanted to try and go there. I feel like those are the things in your life that you always look back on and think, “I’m so glad I did that.”
Kelly Fremon’s lighthearted and very relatable comedy comes out August 21 (Friday). The Fox Searchlight Pictures film was directed by Vicky Jenson (Shrek, Shark Tale) based on Kelly Fremon script and produced by Ivan Reitman, Joe Medjuck and Jeffrey Clifford. The soundtrack itself is certainly worth listening to. The score was composed by Christophe Beck, who won an Emmy for his work on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and scored films such as The Hangover, Bring It On, American Wedding, Under the Tuscan Sun, and many others. In addition, the soundtrack features songs by the likes of Joshua Radin, Erin Mccarley, Lily Allen and many others.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab some popcorn and discover a character who happens to be in the very same boat as you. After all, you might need a break from your parents couch…