At first glance, "Finding You" looks like a typical teen romantic comedy. But its unique musical twist and approachable PG content, director Brian Baugh explained, is what he hopes will finally get moviegoers out of lockdown and into the theater, "tapping their feet" on the way out.
"Finding You," from Roadside Attractions, is based on the book "There You'll Find Me" by author Jenny B. Moore. In the film adaptation, Beckett Rush (Jedediah Goodacre) is a teen movie star whose image and therefore personal life is controlled by his agent, who also happens to be his father. But when Beckett has a meet-cute with violin player Finley Sinclair (Rose Reid) on a flight to Ireland – where Finley is going to study after having just been rejected by stone-faced arts judges in Brooklyn – he appears to find the missing spark in his life, making him question if signing his life away to another handful of exhausting movies is something he really wants to do.
The cast is rounded out by Katherine McNamara as Beckett's arrogant co-star Taylor, "Derry Girls" actress Saoirse-Monica Jackson as Finley's new Irish best friend, Tom Everett Scott as Beckett's overbearing father, and veteran actress and six-time Academy Award nominee Vanessa Redgrave as an ailing woman trying to reconcile with her sister.
Music plays a huge role in the movie — an element that drew Baugh to the project, he recently told Fox News.
"I was really involved with [music] in high school and actually really always liked music recording and actually produced some very mediocre garage bandy grunge albums in high school with our friends’ band," Baugh recalled.
When "Finding You" opens, music is a chore for the talented Finley. Despite delivering what sounds like a flawless audition, she doesn't make the cut to the Brooklyn conservatory she's desperate to get into. That rejection convinces her to take a chance and finally take that trip to Ireland, where she rediscovers her love for her stringed instrument.
Some of the most joyous scenes of the film are when Finley she joins an older man named Seamus and they play traditional Irish music to their hearts' content. Baugh says those moments resonated very well with early audiences. That's perhaps because the actors' smiles in those scenes, he explains, weren't just an act.
"It’s super fun whenever you get to jam music on set, it always changes the vibe and makes it a better day," he said.
While the film does touch on the sometimes overwhelming effects Hollywood has on young actors and there a few heavy scenes in that regard, parents would find nothing inappropriate in the nearly two-hour feature. The decision to keep the film family-friendly, Baugh said, was a personal preference so that he doesn't have to hide his work from his young daughters, but also one of practicality.
"From a practical sense, it’s helpful when your movies can have as wide an audience as possible," he explained. "Just by nature of some of the funding, that was just a strategy to enable to theme of the message to reach…It’s not an edict or something I want to do for every film. Whenever possible, I want people to see my films and not have them be too nichey."
But, he notes, it is a perk that his daughters can wander in while he's working and be the first people on the planet to see early cuts of the film and offer immediate feedback.
"My daughter always has suggestions for me," he laughed.
Above all, Baugh hopes the film will do three things for moviegoers: "cheer people up, and put a smile on folks’ faces, get them tapping their feet on the way out the theater, and just have a moment to celebrate some of the great things of life."
"Finding You" is in theaters now.