Guest Post: Behind the Scenes of the My Life Undecided Book Trailer

To say this is a guest post I’m excited about would be an understatement! Today, we’re bringing our readers a look into the life of the making of a book trailer by Jessica Brody, author of MY LIFE UNDECIDED (published last month and reviewed here in brief) and 2010 debut THE KARMA CLUB. Jessica has two of the best book trailers out there, so when we had the chance to ask her to talk about making the one for MY LIFE UNDECIDED, we had to get the scoop.

I, for one, love going behind the scenes of anything. Universal Studios Backlot Tour? I’m there. Bonus Features on a DVD? Yes, please. Film Screening with a special Q&A with the director? Where do I sign up? I’m a sucker for those “Making Of” stories that supposedly spill all the best Hollywood secrets.

Which is why when I was asked to write this post, I jumped (rather enthusiastically) at the chance. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t presume to think that my “behind the scenes” stories from the set of the MY LIFE UNDECIDED Book Trailer are anywhere near as cool as the “behind the scenes” stuff from let’s say, AVATAR, but I hope you’ll enjoy them nonetheless!

So here are my top four “Behind the Scenes” stories from the MY LIFE UNDECIDED Book Trailer. Complete with cool photos from the set! And be sure to check out the trailer itself below.

1) Stunt Doubles? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Stunt Doubles!

The rugby “tackle” scene was my favorite scene to shoot. It was also our very first scene of the entire production so everyone was really excited and pumped.

I wanted the tackle to look as realistic as possible so I cast a professional Stunt Woman (the fabulous Jessica Bennett) to play the Rugby Player and she gave our talented (and very brave) young actress (Taylor Coliee) a crash course in stunt tackling.

The first thing we did to make sure Taylor was safe was pad her up. Jessica placed pads on strategic areas of Taylor’s body to make sure she was protected from the “tackle.”

Then, in order to get Taylor comfortable with the idea of being rushed by a charging rugby player (definitely not something you experience every day…unless, of course, you are a rugby player), we did a few takes where Jessica (our stunt woman) actually picked Taylor up and carried her off frame. Just to get her used to the idea of being “tackled.”

Then, once Taylor was comfortable with the action, we did a real tackle. But instead of having Taylor hit the ground, we used a trusty crash pad and a spotter, which you obviously can’t see in the actual footage.

And although we did end up using it in the final trailer, we also shot a few takes of Taylor “hitting the ground” in case we wanted to cut to that in the edit. This was actually kind of fun. We had Taylor and Jessica lie down on the grass and then filmed them literally getting up from that position. It’s a common movie trick. In order to make it look like she’s actually falling to the ground, all you have to do is reverse the shot and speed it up. When you cut that quickly together with the “tackle” shot you get the impression that she really is being tackled to the ground.

2) You’re Under Arrest!

The arrest scene was SO much fun to shoot. We used what’s called a “Picture Car,” which is basically a prop car that looks like a real police car. It’s the same kind of cars they use in all those procedural cop shows like CSI and Law and Order. We rented this car from a great Picture Car company called Aardvark Props. The guy who owns this company actually made the car himself. How cool is that?

We all had just a bit too much fun with this scene. It was really comical because we’d all be laughing and having a blast and then we’d yell action and Taylor and Rob (our cop) would suddenly have to look all serious. Because he is supposed to be a cop and she is supposed to be getting arrested! But thankfully they were talented actors and had no problem switching the seriousness on and off.

It also happened to be freezing out that night and poor Taylor had this skimpy little outfit on for her costume. So after each take, someone would run out with a blanket and wrap her up. Here she is between takes. She was such a trooper!

3) The Great Debate

The debate scene was hilarious. I wish we could have used more footage of Cesar Manzanera (our debater). He was so funny. Everyone was cracking up. When he came into the audition, I laughed so hard I cast him right away. He was just perfect. Even Taylor had trouble keeping a straight face at times, as evidenced here. This is a photo from when I directed them to do the scene where he’s debating so passionately he nearly knocks her in the head. Both of them appear to be on the verge of laughing.

4) More Windex Please!

There’s a small reference in the book to a moment in Brooklyn’s life, when she was eight years old and a “neighborhood kid” dared her to drink Windex. It’s one of the many “bad decisions” she’s made over the years. When I decided to put this part in the trailer as a flashback to demonstrate Brooklyn’s history of Decisionally-Challenged-ness, I knew it was going to be a blast to shoot. And it was!

The two young actresses we used were such pros. For Riley Chambers, the girl who plays Brooklyn age 8, this was her very first acting gig (although you’d never be able to tell!) And you might recognize Emily Skinner, the girl who played the Neighborhood Kid, because she’s been on tons of TV shows. They were both fantastic. So talented and professional and fun to work with.

Of course, we didn’t use actual Windex. My husband and I had a great time at the supermarket picking out a beverage that looked the most like Windex. And guess what won? Mountain Berry Powerade! Yum!

We did a couple takes where Brooklyn reacts to her father walking into the room and yelling at her. She was supposed to look “busted” but we ended up not using any of the takes because no one could stop from laughing. Every time Riley would react, she would spit the Powerade all over the counter and we would all crack up. It was hilarious!

But no matter, I was still so thrilled with the scene that we ended up with.

So those are my top four Behind the Scenes stories! I hope you enjoyed them! If you want to see more photos from the set, be sure to visit my website:!

And also, check out the book’s new interactive website, where you can post your tough decisions and poll our readers for some advice…just like Brooklyn!

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