Review: Finding You 2021
Director: Brian Baugh
Finding You, out in theaters May 14, is a young adult romance that explores the creative worlds of film and music as well. Based on a 2011 novel called There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones, it follows a student musician who finds herself following for a Hollywood hunk against her better judgment.
After her brother’s death, Finley (Rose Reid, A Welcome Home Christmas) decides to study abroad in Ireland to follow in his footsteps and see the places he loved. She meets Beckett (Jedidiah Goodacre, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina), an actor currently filming his latest blockbuster, and the two clash before realizing just how much they have in common.
I really enjoyed the chemistry between Rose and Jedidiah in Finding You. How did you cast the leads, and what made them right for their parts?
Brian Baugh: That’s a great question. With Rose, who played Finley, we had the privilege of working on [The World We Make] before, so it was a very natural fit. It’s always nice to go into it with at least one actor that I’ve worked with before, and we had a great time on the previous film. She was really talented at the violin and had some experiences that were similar. She’s not an orchestra player or whatever, but she was she was great there. And she also just loves to travel and would really like this overseas experience, so that was a great draw for her.
And then on Jed’s side, we had a great casting director out of LA that dealt with the non-Irish or English parts, Venus Kanani. We tasked her with the challenge of finding our Beckett, and she was a great guide through it all. We searched high and low, and we had meetings with a lot of great young actors. But in the audition process, Jed just brought something really special to the role. I think he was a little bit unpredictable and could go a lot of different places. He wasn’t afraid to be really enthusiastic, and he could also be very deep. I just really liked his ethos and his unpredictability, because in that role, you really needed someone who you believe could do anything at any time.
That’s what’s so fun about someone very grounded, and perhaps a touch fearful, like Finley. You want to pair her with the opposite; someone who is very out there and ready to experience a lot of life.
I really liked the through line of their creative struggles. You mentioned Finley’s fear, which blocks her from being the musician she was meant to be. But Beckett struggles in his acting career as well. What inspired that aspect of the storyline, and what do you think they saw in each other as artists?
Brian Baugh: A lot of artists have underlying fears, and I’m sure a lot of the audience can relate to that. You’re putting yourself out there and being very vulnerable.
With Finley, she needed to be unlocked a little bit throughout the story. In essence, Beckett was her guide for that. The first chunk of the movie, that’s the journey that we’re on, but then it suddenly shifts in the second half. We start to get to know Beckett a bit more and see what he’s afraid of, and where he needs to show courage. I really liked that it almost has two arcs, where we move towards the end of one and then a new one starts up. We get to deal with his artistic growth and his moving beyond fear, so he can be more of who he is and have a more complete life.
I think that’s really how it was designed, in the hope that they both can then impact each other.
The PR machine in the background was one of the reasons Beckett couldn’t live his complete life. Is that an experience that you’ve seen young actors go through, which made you want to address it?
Brian Baugh: At the time, I wasn’t thinking of it as a giant issue. But having been around entertainment for a decent amount of time, I’ve seen younger folks that don’t get to have a normal high school experience. They’re hanging out with adults all day and hearing them talk about insurance plans, and it’s like they miss this precious part of childhood. Seeing that and working alongside a lot of child actors, sometimes I feel for them.
It wasn’t a giant issue that I was trying to raise or anything, but it was more of the reality of what happens to some of them. They get incredible privileges that are very unique and interesting, but they pay a small price for it. And it can be a large price in some instances.
It’s also just more of building out Beckett’s character. In reality, what would that character have experienced? What could he be feeling at a loss for? Narratively, it’s always a challenge to feel sorry for a rich movie star. You have to really get to some deep threads to do it. Otherwise, it’s like, “What can they have a problem with?”
Vanessa Redgrave was incredible as Cathleen. What brought her to the role?
Brian Baugh: Again, thanks to our talented casting agent out of Ireland. We just went through names of who would be our dream roles, and she was always one of our dreams. We were like, “Oh, she’s a long shot. I don’t know if we’ll get her,” but we just thought we’d try. We went through the typical process and, thankfully, Vanessa responded to the script and the role.
We were really overjoyed when she came on. And she was one of the first to sign on. She was great, and we were just super thankful and honored to be able to to work with such a established, award-winning actress liker.
I loved the dynamic between her and Finley, and how that bond bloomed over the course of the film. Can you talk a little bit about what Finley learned from her, or even what kind of connection she feels from the start?
Brian Baugh: Sure, yeah. Without giving too much away, that transformation is one of the things that audiences seem to love most. I think Finley’s fatal flaw from a narrative standpoint coming in is that she perhaps prejudges people a little bit.
But I think one of the great things she learns from it is to not be too harsh in your judgments of people before you know what’s happening behind the scenes. That’s just a really profound lesson that her character learns throughout, in a number of different ways.
True, she learns it with Beckett as well.
Brian Baugh: Yeah. With Beckett, with Seamus – and even with Taylor, Katherine McNamara’s character. Each one of them ends up looking different than when you start out. That was part of the fun of crafting the tale. At the start, we want the audience think of him this way, but at the end, they’ll think of him that way. Weaving that tapestry together was really fun.
You’ve got a lot of experience as a cinematographer. Does that inform or shape your vision as a director?
Brian Baugh: Yeah, it’s certainly a great background to have. You get very comfortable on set. I guess I would recommend it if you had to do something before. There’s directors coming out of acting or writing or editing or a lot of different paths, but there is probably no better way to understand setting than by being a DP. And in some ways, it’s almost easier to direct than to be a DP. In certain aspects, it’s more difficult.
So yeah, it certainly was a great background that allows you to really communicate easily with the cinematographers as well. Because you know the ups and downs, and you can do subtle things that help them out. Plus, you know a few of the tricks of the trade to get more beautiful shots.
Speaking of tricks of the trade, you directed and wrote the film as well as produced it. What is it like juggling all those different roles?
Brian Baugh: They all rise in intensity at certain times and tend to trade off a bit, so that’s helpful. And thankfully, you’re typically working with a team of great producers, so during the intense production times, those roles lessened a bit on the producing side. They really stepped up and did that role so I could be free to direct, so hats off to Julie Ryan, Ken Carpenter, Stephen Preston, and all the people that had their boots on the ground doing that.
More than anything, they come in waves. You’re doing a screenwriting wave at the beginning, and then the directing wave, and then the producing can be in between those things. It doesn’t seem to overlap, but there are times where it’s like, “I wish someone else could go fix these things about the script.” You’re going home to your hotel or your apartment at night and writing things out and fixing things for the next day, but that’s all part of it.
Finley comes to Ireland in connection with her brother, and his presence lingers throughout the film. What kinds of conversations did you have with Rose about that backstory and how it affects her even in scenes where she’s not talking about him?
Brian Baugh: In terms of acting, there are acting techniques to do a substitution technique where you try to imagine [something similar]. We did talk about that and, ironically enough, the previous film we did also had a sibling that dies. So, we already had a bit of a shorthand and actually drew upon some of the stuff there.
And there are some things in her personal life that she was able to draw upon for that as well. I think because of the shorthand that we had, it wasn’t as much work as you might typically do with others. But she definitely had some touch points that enabled her to lock into that emotion. That was helpful.
Finally, what is in your future? What are you working on next?
Brian Baugh: I’ve got a few things I am very excited about. I signed some NDAs, so I can’t say a ton about it, but there are two period pieces that I’m writing and am attached to to direct. They’re really fun. I love the historical period that they’re in, and the subjects are fantastic.
I’m honestly not sure, with all the COVID stuff in the world, which one is going to make it first and which one will want to brave some of the COVID conditions and extra expenses to get there. But I’m hoping to get one of them up and running this fall, and it would be great to be back shooting again and working with the actors.
Those are the those are the main two, but I have had the good fortune to work on five or more screenplays over the last year. We’re aligning them all up to be able to sell, so we’ll get to go into production on several in a row and get something out.