What was your experience making Return of the Secaucus Seven?
ADAM LEFEVRE: It was really quite wonderful. It was my first film -- for a lot of people who were in it, it was their first film -- and it was John Sayles’ first film. All of us had the blessing and the curse of being gung-ho and not quite sure what we were getting into.
I think there was only one person who was in the Screen Actors Guild at that time; the rest of us had gotten together at a summer theater where we shot it, in North Conway. We actually used the Lodge that the theater people stayed in, and John shot it at the end of that theater's summer season.
The movie is always held up as the perfect example of how to construct a low-budget movie, writing to the resources at hand.
ADAM LEFEVRE: John had very specifically tailored the script to who he knew he had. He had tailored the movie to people's type and abilities. Because his budget was very limited, it had to be thoroughly plotted out. People have said that a lot of it sounded improvised, but really very little was improvised, because he didn't have enough money for film to do that. He knew going into it exactly what he had to get, and he was very diligent about getting shots and moving on, getting shots and moving on.
Everybody knew everybody and worked with each other before, so there was a level of comfort there and a lot les time necessary to get to know each other, because the centerpiece of the film was this group of friends. I think it was advantageous that we had a shared communal history, and I think, since there was so little time, it was good to have that going in.
John knew that and I think exploited that in a very good way. I think from the point of view of the actors, that made it easier for all of us, because there was already a history there of friendship. Subsequent to that, sometimes you arrive on a movie set and you end up in bed with somebody you haven't met yet. In this case, the working relationship among the core group was already established.
It was really a once-in-a-lifetime thing.
What did you learn from working on that movie?
ADAM LEFEVRE: I learned a lot. The lesson for me was learning to be still and not to act. If you thinking right and feeling right, the camera will see it. It was great for me in that regard, and the fact that the movie got some notoriety was helpful for me subsequently, it was a calling card for me.
Working in a low-budget movie is very much like my experience in working in episodic television, because there you gotta move. You get the shot and you move on.
So it was helpful for me, because as an actor you learn to take care of yourself, there's a baseline that you want to give, an artistic standard that one sets for oneself and that you want to make sure that you do.
And so you learn to have a certain amount of confidence that, even without any direction, you can come up with something that will work and hopefully be interesting as well.