With her first screenplay, Julie Rudd delivered a joyfully funny script that puts #MomLife front and center. In it, four moms whose only common ground is their kids’ preschool class, decide to get together for a harmless night out. What begins as a disaster, becomes an unforgettable night thanks to a combination of alcohol, karaoke and a cute bartender.
FUN MOM DINNER (Momentum Pictures) brings together an almost all-women team that includes director Alethea Jones, co-producer Naomi Scott and a cast starring Toni Collette, Molly Shannon, Bridget Everett and Katie Aselton.
The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and will be released in select theaters and On Demand on August 4, 2017.
OnWriting spoke with Julie Rudd about her writing process, 80’s music and working with a team of amazing women.
How did you get your start as a screenwriter?
My start as a screenwriter truly came from out of the blue. A few years ago, I had a pretty simple idea for a “mom” movie, something that was funny, but also felt real. I starting thinking about it and I just couldn’t stop. I even went out and bought a notebook and three new pens. I think I was as surprised as anyone that I actually stuck with it and saw the idea through.
Please tell me about the origins of the idea FUN MOM DINNER and how it went from idea to the screen?
As I mentioned, it really started with a pretty simple thought — that I hadn’t really seen a movie where the moms were front and center. (This was in 2013, before BAD MOMS.) The genesis for the idea came from my own experience of meeting moms when my kids started school. I had trepidation about what that would be like and, a few years in, I was really surprised at how much my new mom friends had come to mean to me and how much they’d enriched my life. I hadn’t anticipated it. I wanted to create something that celebrated that.
I told my friend Naomi Scott, an amazing producer, about the idea. From that moment, we were a team. We set out to create something that depicted friendship among women and how powerful it can be in your life. Of course, we also wanted it to be funny and to capture a bit of truth of the life of a mom. Basically, everyone in the movie is exhausted.
What is a scene from FUN MOM DINNER that translated well from the page to the screen and why?
Weirdly, I think the scenes with the dads really translated well. They are essentially the B story, but when I watch the finished film, they are some of my favorite scenes. I attribute that mostly to how good Adam Scott and Rob Huebel are and I also think that the substance the dads bring to the movie is unexpected and I always like that.
GIRLS TRIP and BAD MOMS have shown that raunchy women comedies have a huge audience. What makes FUN MOM DINNER stand out in this genre?
I think FUN MOM DINNER has those wild moments and it certainly has raunchy dialogue, but what might set it apart is that it’s also tender at moments and soulful. I hope that women, and moms in particular, see themselves up there in a real way. I think we’ve got some quiet moments that really resonate in there amongst all of the jokes.
What is your writing process?
Since this was my first screenplay, I really had to figure it out! Having Naomi as a partner from the get go really helped because we would riff on ideas and bring our own stories and stories we’d heard. Every time I had an idea or had furthered the story, I would send her my notes. She always gave me such great feedback and some of the best stuff really came out of our conversations.
I did work out the entire story in a notebook before I set out to write the script. That helped me to feel very familiar with everything when it came time to install Final Draft.
What kind of environment do you like to be in when you write?
I really like to be alone in my apartment. I wrote FUN MOM DINNER mostly at my dining room table listening to music in headphones. 80’s music.
What kind of notes did you get on your script and how did you deal with them?
Naomi was really instrumental in helping me to understand the importance of notes and to appreciate them. For a long time, it was only her giving me notes and she’s just so damn good at it. I think it’s a real skill. It is very hard to hear notes and not feel like it’s some sort of criticism, but some really sent me thinking in great new directions and lead to fantastic ideas. I came to understand that it’s part of the process. In the end, I think it helped the script. Plus, I didn’t have to listen to all of them, which was great. And it’s character building, right?
Were you involved with the other aspects of the film?
Luckily for me, I was able to be involved in everything and it truly was the experience of a lifetime for me. Naomi is the best producer I’ve ever seen and she let me stand beside her every step of the way. Together we were in on the casting and we found our incredible director, Alethea Jones. Once Alethea came on board, it really was like an incredible team of gals making this movie. I loved being on set and it was wonderful to get to hone the script all the way through. I could think of a funny line as we were shooting, run it by Alethea and then, next thing you know, we were trying it.
How is FUN MOM FINNER influenced by your own life adventures? Was there a scene that came straight from your real life?
There isn’t a scene straight from my life, but the essence is there. I’ve certainly woken up many times with a foot in my face. I’ve definitely slept with my head on my night table. There are little touches like that from my life. A line here or there. The hunger to carve out some “me” time certainly speaks to me. I think the real fun of writing this was starting each of the four moms with a tiny seed that was me – or sort of me – and then imagining and creating the rest. It didn’t take long for these women to feel like living, breathing people to me.
What’s your go to karaoke jam?
Excellent question. I do a lot of karaoke and you’d be hard-pressed to ever hear me sing anything that was released after 1988.