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Unveiling the Artistry: A Conversation with Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. on Directing the New Mean Girls Movie

January 31, 2024

In a recent insightful conversation with Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr., the brilliant minds behind the latest Mean Girls movie, we explored their creative journey and the detailed process of bringing this iconic story to life on the big screen.

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The conversation kicked off with a reflection of how the duo embarked on this film. Samantha mentioned, "For the movie itself, it was a bit like it's already ingrained in my DNA. We know the film so well." The team drew inspiration from the Broadway show's narrative construction, with Janice and Damien leading the audience (essentially as the directors themselves) through the story, presenting it through their lens and emotions. 

Samantha further explained, “So, it's not necessarily an exact recount of events; it's more about expressing what they feel and want to share with the viewers. We began by constructing the narrative from that perspective!" For us, this unique approach infused the movie with a youthful soul, capturing the essence of this current generation.

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One of our favorite standout elements from the film was the opening sequence that starts with a singular vertical phone view and then widens featuring a continuous take that traversed various locations. This is an award-winning and signature style of Arturo’s that he has implemented in several music videos in his career, including Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton’s song “Say Something”

“We have two rules which are: ‘whose perspective are you in’ and ‘what are they feeling?’....", says Arturo. "That's how we knew how to go about the style for each scene or during a musical number.” Another continuous shot that we loved was Janice’s Anthem. Because it was shot in this style, it’s almost like Janice was saying, “This is my anthem and you’re going to follow me and not cut. Let’s go!” It’s glorious. Trust us!

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Casting played a pivotal role in the success of the film, with the directors carefully selecting a mix of original cast members and Broadway stars along with new cast members. One of which is Jaquel Spivey (AKA: Damien). After Tina Fey saw A Strange Loop on Broadway, she asked Arturo and Samantha to join her to see the performance starring Jaquel Spivey. “I remember giving him a big hug afterward and we just knew he was Damien!”, says Arturo. 

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The directors also shared insights into their creative process, explaining how the intention behind each musical number guided their decisions. From incorporating modern elements like cell phones to addressing contemporary issues such as cyberbullying, the film sought to resonate with a new generation while maintaining the essence of the original.

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One of the most unique contraptions that they built and shared with us was the swinging desk that can be seen during the “Stupid With Love” song when they cut back to Cady’s fantasy. “Art and I were at a tiki bar awhile back and they had these cool swings at the bar and we were like, ‘what could we do with a swing?’, says Samantha.  “This is what love feels like! It just feels weightless. And we thought, ‘ah! It would be so much fun if her desk turned into a swing!’” But it ended up not being a swing at all…

Because the film was shot in an abandoned school in real-life classrooms, the ceilings couldn’t suspend a swing. So Arturo and Samantha put their heads together with the Special Effects Coordinator to still keep the concept but engineer a realistic way to film it. The idea? A ramp! They built a mini roller coaster ramp with wheels on the bottom of the desk and rolled her back and forth so it appeared to be a swing. How clever is that? We would have never known… 

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As the conversation wrapped up, the directors both expressed their hopes for the audience, wanting them to leave the theaters buzzing with excitement and carrying a message of empowerment. Samantha emphasized, "Young women should lift each other up instead of tearing each other down," echoing the timeless message embedded in Mean Girls.

We had such a blast catching up with Samantha Jayne and Arturo Perez Jr. to hear about this sure-to-be-awarded film that will celebrate both the meticulous craftsmanship and artistic choices that went into creating the new Mean Girls movie. Their passion for storytelling and dedication to conveying a powerful message has and will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on this iconic franchise.

Head to the theaters to see the film today!!

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© Red Curtain Addict 2021