"Mini's First Time" was born from a number of factors. I had always wanted to make a film about someone who viewed their life as an opportunity to live as originally as possible. Not to define their success by money or status, but simply by how many unique experiences they could achieve in their lifetime.
It also came out my frustration with watching a string of movies about the teenage experience in America that did not resemble any high school or teenagers I had ever known.
The film, while a dark comedy, is also intended as a cautionary tale about what happens to children who are unwanted and left to raise themselves, how their moral compasses often do not fully develop. Mini is intended to be an embodiment of our "latch key" society. The film is also the reflection of a society where adults frequently abdicate social responsibility when it doesn't fit their immediate personal needs.
While some of the events in the movie may seem extreme, they were actually directly inspired from articles I had read in the media as I was writing the script. Truth is often stranger than fiction, and at the end of the day I hope the audience enjoys the ride, while recognizing that the film is simply a reflection of the America we live in today.
Nick Guthe is a native of Brooklyn, NY, and his first feature, "Mini's First Time", which he wrote and directed, is premiering at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival. It's a full circle moment after a long and winding Hollywood journey. After graduating college, Nick moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of being a director, with no contacts in show business whatsoever. With his parents gently asking if this was really how he wanted to utilize his education, Nick defiantly answered "This is all I've ever wanted to do, and I don't care if it takes 5, no make that 10 years for me to make it!", as he headed cluelessly westward in his friend's crappy Volkswagen.
Arriving in LA and seeing too many people take jobs that allowed them more income but less time to pursue their dreams, Nick decided to devote his peak creative hours to screenwriting. He firsts scripts were fairly sad attempts, and he took a series of night jobs that included Domino's pizza delivery, telemarketing copier ribbons and eventually selling dating service memberships, where he was promoted to assistant manager.
With his dubious skill at convincing lonely singles that the answer to their dating prayers lay in his hands, he continued working there until upper management allowed him to see the personnel who were actually in charge of the matchmaking. Expecting to see a crack team of highly trained psychologists pouring over interpersonal data, he found a solitary high school dropout in a back room, reeking of Camel Lights and Cutty Sark. With guilt ridden nightmares dominating his sleep, he resigned, but continued to forge ahead with writing.
Deciding that film school was not the route he wanted to follow, he enrolled at Playhouse West, an acting school in North Hollywood, with the intention of learning how to direct actors by learning the craft firsthand. His two and half years there were creatively very productive as his writing thankfully improved and he landed his first literary agent.
While now participating in experimental drug trials and recruiting test audiences for studio screenings to make a living, he eventually landed his first jobs as a screenwriter, writing film and television scripts for celebrated Hollywood producer Roger Corman. His first assignment was to write a 100 page script in 4 days to meet a production schedule based around a nightclub set they wanted to re-use before tearing it down. Nick made his deadline…the film, "Lola's Game" is, perhaps, the worst movie ever made.
It had now been 6 years since he had moved to Los Angeles and, despite a private school and Princeton education, he had made a grand total of 12,500 dollars as a writer. Luckily, his then girlfriend, now wife, Heidi Ferrer, who had only achieved a public high school degree, was about to do what Nick had not been able to…sell a script.
After she sold her spec, "The C Word" to Fox, the yearly choice of health insurance vs. car insurance ended and with more free time, they made a short film together called "Voice Male", that was shot entirely in their apartment. It was selected for the Hudson Valley film festival, but more importantly gave Nick the confidence that actors wouldn't run screaming from his set.
Soon after completing the short, Nick began writing "Mini's First Time". He completed it in six weeks and sent it off to his agent, who excitedly went to market with it…unfortunately, the week before Columbine happened. Although a story about a murderous teenager wasn't exactly what studios were racing to buy at the time, the writing was noticed and soon after, he booked his first studio re-write.
Mini's attracted the attention of director Roger Kumble ("Cruel Intentions"), and they teamed up to sell a pitch to Universal together. Nick continued to do re-write work and sell pitches with Heidi, as well as selling his script "Don Cornelius", to MGM. As years passed, Mini's was optioned from one producer to another. It was an independent film world roller coaster, as actors were attached and unattached and the financing fell apart time and again.
Four years after writing the script, Nick heard an inspiring interview on his car radio on NPR, with Kevin Spacey discussing how his company, Triggerstreet, was designed to "send the elevator back down" to help new talent be heard. Having an idea for a pitch that he and Heidi needed a star to attach their name to, Nick had his agents send over "Mini's First Time" as a writing sample, figuring it was worth a shot, but not expecting to ever hear back. Three weeks later he was in front of Kevin Spacey, pitching him the project. As they were shopping it around town, the rights to "Mini's First Time" reverted back to Nick and he asked Kevin's partner, Dana Brunetti, if they would be interested in producing the film. They answered "yes" and set off to find the money.
After spending 6 months being courted by one financier and told unequivocally the film was being greenlit, creative differences led Triggerstreet and Nick to back away from the deal at the last minute. The next six months were spent knocking on every door in town, with success finally achieved when Bold Films agreed to finance the film. Alec Baldwin was quickly attached. Nikki Reed, Luke Wilson and Jeff Goldblum soon followed, with Carrie Anne Moss joining the cast a week before filming began.
Mini's First Time premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival feels like a homecoming of sorts for a director proud to be from Brooklyn.