Five-time Emmy Award-winning producer Rob Burnett was in town Friday night to bring his film “The Fundamentals of Caring” to the Plaza Theatre for the opening night film of the Atlanta Film Festival. Burnett was head writer and later executive producer for “The Late Show with David Letterman and is currently the president and chief executive officer of Worldwide Pants Incorporated, Letterman’s production company.
“The Fundamentals of Caring,” written and directed by Burnett, is a film about Ben (Paul Rudd) who has suffered a terrible tragedy. In need of work, Ben becomes a caregiver for Trevor (Craig Roberts), an 18-year-old from England who has muscular dystrophy. The two decide to go on a road trip that will change both their lives. The film also stars Jennifer Ehle and Selena Gomez.
I had the great fortune to interview Rob Burnett on the Atlanta Film Festival Red Carpet.
Mike: Hi Rob
Rob Burnett: Good to see you.
So this film is based on a novel. Why did you want to make this movie?
Rob: The film is based on Jonathan Evison’s novel of the same name. The material felt challenging to me because on it’s face it seems like a story that would be depressing. But Jonathan handles this type of material very well, so I tried to live up to that in the script, hoping to make the film quite funny. One of the formidable things about this film was that all of the heavy action of the movie has taken place before the film starts. Paul Rudd’s character has suffered a tremendous tragedy, but that’s behind him. Craig Roberts character suffers from muscular dystrophy and has been living with it since an early age, so it’s just the guys living in the aftermath of these horrible tragedies. Both actors are hilarious in their parts. It was a challenging piece, and I am pleased with the result.
Talk about working with Selena Gomez on the film.
Rob: She is an incredibly hard worker that is willing to put in the work to get her performance right. She has an amazing amount of talent and is always trying to improve herself. I am proud to have her in the film and couldn’t be happier about her performance.
You worked on David Letterman’s show for a long time. How did that help you make this film and help you be a director?
Rob: I think standing on a stage, night in and night out for twenty plus years watching audiences watch the show in front of them makes me very conscious of the audience, how the pace of the show is working and how the audience is enjoying it. This movie is a very small story. There isn’t a lot to the plot, there aren’t any car chases or guns going off, so to keep it entertaining is a big job. I think my experience on Letterman speaks to that.
You made this film in Atlanta, so how did you enjoy Atlanta?
Rob: I love Atlanta! This city is geared for filmmaking. The film commission treats you extremely well. The crews are unbelievable. And you have the best restaurants of any city in America. Antico’s Pizza is so good I could just live there. I would weigh four hundred pounds, but I could just live there. I could just set up a booth as my home. In fact, if this movie is successful, I want a booth of my own at Antico’s.
Enjoy your time at the Atlanta Film Festival.
“The Fundamentals of Caring” will be available on Netflix Originals on June 24, 2016.
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