INTERVIEW: Director R.J. Cutler Talks About ‘If I Stay’ DVD, Filming Experiences, And ‘Where She Went’

As the If I Stay DVD comes out on November 18, director R.J. Cutler answered some few questions that both the readers and watchers had to ask. Look below to see a snippet of his interview, and don’t forget to click the link below to see more of his answers!

The film went through quite a journey during early production; it changed directors and lead actresses several times. How did it feel when you were selected as the director?

Well, (during) the development stage of a film there is often periods of time where directors are attached and over the many years that is takes a film to get financing, it tends to go through different incarnations. This is not at all uncommon. For me, once I came on board it was pretty much a straight line into working with the folks at MGM and our producers Alison and Denise and getting the film financed. I didn’t really experience it in the context at all of other people who had been attached to the film at certain points. I came on board and very soon thereafter Chloe and I got together and had a great lunch where we talked about possibly doing the project together. We shared a common vision and loved spending time together, so we decided then and there that we were going to do it. Then MGM came on board and really, a few months later we were in pre-production.

There are so many great scenes both in the book and in the film. What scene in the film are you most proud of?

Well, I’m proud of it all. I am really proud of the beautiful music scenes and I am proud of the distinction between the different worlds that were created. I love the family flashbacks and the things that Mia sees in her minds eye when she is remembering her own childhood and moments with her family. I love the whole film. I am very proud of this movie and I am thrilled that people are going to get a chance to see it again on DVD.

Young adult fans can be intense because they love the stories so much. I know that this can make actors and directors nervous or hesitant to get involved in projects because they want to be able to do the story justice. Were you at all nervous to get involved with If I Stay?

No, I loved the book from the moment I read it. I loved the idea of turning into the film and kind of creating a cinematic response to the material. I was excited about it from moment one. I didn’t ever think about it that way. I was certain that anyone who shared my love for the book would respond to the film similarly. I was really confident about that and I think it turned out to be true. It is such a beautiful book and its characters are so real and true. Even though it is a story about something that is not usually explored in narrative, that kind of moment between life and death. It is so honestly, beautifully, and evocatively written that was clear that if we could follow the path that was created by the book the Gayle wrote, we’d be in a very good place.

Were you worried about planning out the music/performance scenes? Those seem like they would be complicated scenes to plan out.

They are, but I love doing it. I love working with music and we spent a lot of time before production picking the songs, making the arrangements, identifying the band, pre-recording, and rehearsing and all of those things. When you put the right amount of time into it and you approach it in the right way, it makes it a lot easier on the day of the shoot. We had a really great team. Our composer, our music supervisor, our producer and all the musicians. We just assembled a really mighty team. This film was going to succeed or fail on the basis of the music. It is a movie about music and a story about music. Music is the air that the people of this film breathe, so music was very essential to all the planning work that we did.

Click here to see more of Cutler’s interview: