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March 23, 2014 | posted in Filmmakers
For Kristin Hanggi, transformation, and the trials of youth, are themes that run through all of her projects. There is almost always “a young person at the center who’s going through an exploration of self,” she explains. That was part of what drew her to “Grantham and Rose,” a story about the bond between a juvenile offender and an elderly woman who takes him under her wing, based on a similar relationship that writer-producer Ryan Spahn observed while in boarding school.
“I thought it was a very charming, moving, coming-of-age script,” says Hanggi.
One of the things she loved best about shooting the film was watching the leads, Jake T. Austin and Marla Gibbs, bond on set. Both were the exact ages of the characters that they played.
“Watching their dynamic was amazing,” says Hanggi. “I didn’t realize how much fun we were going to have together.”
That joyous approach to creation is characteristic of all of Hanggi’s work. Her Tony-nominated musical “Rock of Ages” took Broadway by storm—and set a new Guinness World Record for the largest air guitar ensemble—and she divides her time between film work and the stage. She chooses “projects where I feel my heart moved, and where I feel a connection inside the material.”
The result is a body of work which often features “stories where two strangers come together, and a bond is formed, especially when it’s two people coming from very different perspectives in life,” like Grantham and Rose.
Each medium, stage and film, comes with its unique challenges and thrills. A stage performance “is a living, breathing, in-the-moment thing… responding to the audience,” while the emotional impact of a film scene must often be captured in one “perfect moment” and finessed in the editing room. Hanggi is energized by both processes. Her upcoming projects include stage productions of “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion” and “Clueless,” and she is currently in post-production on “Naomi and Ely’s No-Kiss List,” from the authors of “Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist.”
A firm believer that the creative process brings its own energy, her advice to aspiring filmmakers is: “If you have an idea, run with it, and use the resources that you have at the moment, and just start!” So far, this joyous seize-the-moment philosophy has been working out beautifully for her.
— Lara Klaber
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