Elizabeth Banks on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter


Pitch Perfect 2 director Elizabeth Banks is on the cover of The Hollywood Reporter.

Here are quotes from the article:

The cast and crew of Pitch Perfect 2 are waiting to shoot a musical sequence in which Anna Kendrick and the rapper (once again) known as Snoop Dogg sing a Christmas duet. Except it’s July. And it’s Baton Rouge, Louisiana. And it’s 93 degrees. Kendrick’s makeup is melting off her face. Dogg is practically panting. A crewmember gives the ancient air-conditioner unit a whack, but it just keeps sputtering warm air.

Then, like an arctic breeze, in swoops the film’s director, Elizabeth Banks. In skin-tight black jeans and a white tank top covered in little black lightning bolts, she zooms around the set as if on skates. One moment she’s zipping over to the video monitors, the next — whoosh! — she’s consulting with her actors. “We’re on a tight schedule, people!” she announces as she finally settles into a director’s chair and gets ready to shoot. “Let’s get through this thing!”

The first Pitch Perfect was the surprise hit of 2012 — an irreverent, girl-powered comedy that followed the exploits of a quirky group of college a cappella singers called the “Barden Bellas.” Directed by Jason Moore, a Broadway theater vet (Avenue Q) who’d never made a film, and produced for a mere $17 million by Banks’ Brownstone Productions — which she runs with her husband, Max Handelman, a banker turned producer — it earned Universal $113 million worldwide at the box office. It made another $103 million in home video sales, according to The-Numbers.com, plus millions more through VOD and premium cable deals.

he concept for the original film came from 30 Rock writer Kay Cannon, who one day in 2007 casually had mentioned to Banks that she wanted to write a film set in the irresistibly dorky world of competitive a cappella. Banks, who’d hung out among “musical theater nerds” while attending the University of Pennsylvania (where she met Handelman), adored the idea. She found a book on the subject to option — Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory by MickeyRapkin — and, together with Cannon, whipped up a treatment. “It’s classic storytelling,” she says. “It’s about underdogs. It’s essentially a sports movie, the Bad News Bears of a cappella singers.”

Incredibly, this wasn’t the only a cappella idea kicking around Hollywood; a few other producers were peddling their own concepts. Banks and Cannon had to do a little something extra to get out ahead. So when they pitched Pitch Perfect to Universal co-president of production Peter Cramer, it was with a madcap presentation that involved harmonicas, harmonies and the two women hitting Mariah Carey-esque high notes. “We made fools of ourselves,” says Cannon. “He loved it.”

Meanwhile, her career as a producer was chugging along on its own track. By early 2013, Universal was getting serious about a Pitch Perfect sequel. Banks and her producing partner husband met with Cannon and Moore, the director and a producer on the second film, and started outlining ideas for a follow-up. They came up with a script that reunited the original characters (Kendrick as Beca, Skylar Astin as her boyfriend Jesse, Rebel Wilson as the crude Fat Amy) and added a few new twists (Hailee Steinfeld plays a new recruit, the Green Bay Packers make a cameo). But then, before Universal gave a final green light, Moore got an offer to direct another Universal project, the Amy PoehlerTina Fey comedy Sisters. Suddenly, Pitch Perfect 2needed a new hand at the helm.

It was not going to be an easy job; the film contains 30 musical sequences, including one huge outdoor concert filled with thousands of extras. But Banks had one big advantage over the other names the studio was considering as possible directors: She was the film’s producer. Recalls Cramer: “We had other thoughts, but then Donna said, ‘Why don’t we just have Liz do it? She’s great, she knows the franchise, we know she’s capable of everything she sets her mind to.’ ” Two months later, Banks and Handelman and their two sons — Felix, 4, and Magnus, 2 — were headed to Baton Rouge for a five-and-a-half-month production. Right smack in the middle of Louisiana’s famously suffocating summer.

“I went through no hoops for this particular job,” says Banks later in the afternoon, as the temperatures cool down to the high 80s. “I just put myself right at the spot where someone needed to be to get the job. And I prepared. I knew I wanted to direct, so I met DPs, I ran sets, I chose music. I went through the process of directing in little ways — nothing too big or risky or time-consuming. I just started really observing.”

Read the entire THR article here

Source: Hollywood Reporter

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