The Descendants: Behind the Scenes

View the trailer above, or here.


Last month, Fox Searchlight debuted the trailer for The Descendants. Scheduled to premiere December 16, 2011, it’s a movie set in Hawaii and based on a book written by local author Kaui Hart Hemmings. Last Tuesday, producer Jim Burke talked about the book, the author and what it was like to produce a movie in Hawaii.

“I received the manuscript from an agent in London of all places,” said Burke. “The story is about a father that had to learn how to become a father, so I connected with the book.” And, he adds, Fox Searchlight is known for its human films that people can relate to, so the book was a perfect fit for them.

Burke speaks at an SMEI meeting.

Burke then got director Alexander Payne on board (Sideways, Election, About Schmidt), they found writers to adapt it into a screenplay and attached an actor—George Clooney—to play the lead. “He [Clooney] gives a great performance in this picture,” adds Burke.

Authenticity was important for this film, so they decided to film at the locations used in the story—mostly Kailua on Oahu, and Kauai—as opposed to anywhere else. They also spent time in pre-production soaking up local knowledge by living in Lanikai for a month, using Hemmings for her wealth of information and they even met with the now late judge Sam King and Randy Roth to go over the legal trust aspects of the novel. The notion of staying true to Hawaii also continues with the music they decided to use. “There is no score,” Burke said. “We used mostly slack key old and new.”

“In Hollywood,” Burke said, “it’s one of the most anticipated films of the year. And, the best film I’ve ever made.” Whether Hawaii will host the movie premiere is to be determined.

 Related stories: Kaui Hart Hemmings talks to us about her book being turned into a film.