‘Mid90s’: Jonah Hill and Cast on Shooting in 4:3, the Casting Process, and More

     September 18, 2018


After talking about wanting to direct a movie for over a decade, and getting to work with a diverse group of filmmakers that includes Judd Apatow, Martin Scorsese, Nicholas StollerRicky GervaisBennett MillerEvan Goldberg, Seth Rogen, Joel and Ethan Coen, and Gus Van Sant, I figured Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, Mid90s, was going to be something cool and unexpected.

I was right.

As you’ve seen in the trailers, the film follows a 13-year-old (Sunny Suljic) over the course of a Los Angeles summer as he makes friends with a group of neighborhood skaters in, you guessed it, the middle of the 1990s. Cast with real skateboarders and non-professional actors, Hill’s film takes all the gloss off the time period and throws you into the room almost like a bystander on the wall. The characters smoke, drink, and act like real teenagers without any sense of inauthenticity. In addition, Hill shot the film on 16mm using a 4:3 aspect ratio, so you almost feel like you’re watching a video that was shot by the very people you see on screen. It’s a great debut feature and I can’t wait to see what Hill does next.

mid90s-posterA few hours before seeing the film, Jonah Hill and some of his cast (Sunny Suljic, Olan Prenatt and Na-kel Smith) came into the Collider studio at TIFF. During the interview they talked about why Jonah choose Mid90s as his directorial debut, the aspect ratio and convincing A24 to make it that way, if he felt any studio resistance to casting non-professional actors, what it was like for the cast to work with Jonah as a director, how Mid90s was born out of an idea for a different film that had flashbacks to the main character when he was 12, and a lot more.

Check out what they had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about. Mid90s opens October 19th. For more on the film, read Adam Chitwood’s review.

Jonah Hill, Sunny Suljic, Olan Prenatt and Na-kel Smith:

  • Why did Jonah choose Mid90s as his directorial debut?
  • Jonah talks about presenting the film in 4:3 aspect ratio and convincing A24 to make it that way.
  • The cast talks about shooting split days where they’d shoot from 3am to 3pm and get loopy together.
  • The casting process, finding the performers, and tailoring the script to the actors Jonah cast.
  • Working with Jonah as a director.
  • The preparation process between Jonah and the actors.
  • Was there any resistance to casting non-professional actors? Jonah recalls reading professionals for the roles.
  • Jonah reveals how Mid90s was born out of an idea for a different film that had flashbacks to the main character when he was 12. Spike Jonze helped him formulate the story that became Mid90s.

mid90s-jonah-hill-cast-interview (2)Finally, big thanks to the partners who made our TIFF interviews possible:

Aurora, Presenting Partner, one of Canada’s largest federally licensed cannabis companies and an official partner of the Toronto International Film Festival. Aurora’s involvement is anchored by its passion for the arts and commitment to providing financial support for the creative community.

Diageo Canada joins as the official spirit sponsor and will be showcasing cocktails featuring brands from their luxury portfolio including Ciroc Vodka,Tanqueray™ No. TEN Gin, Johnnie Walker Black Label and Bulleit Bourbon.

Toasting the evening’s festivities will be La Marca Prosecco, an elegant, luxurious sparkling wine. The premium wines of California’s Ghost Pines Winery will also be served!

Dutch beer brand Grolsch, the official beer sponsor of the Toronto Film Festival recognizable by its iconic swingtop bottle, will tap into the House of Aurora to extend its VIP footprint at the Festival. Grolsch has long been a champion of creativity and independent thinking.

Frank Rea Event Designs Toronto’s top event florist and ambient designer Frank Rea creatively lends his support with décor statements and floral designs through Forget Me Not Flowers & Frank Rea Event Designs.

The Collider Studio at the House of Aurora was produced by A-list Communications and The Substance Group.

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