ABOUT THE MUSIC
Music has always been key to this story, starting from the initial script written by Kate King Lynch. From emerging breakout artist, Dead Man's Bones, the duo formed by Ryan Gosling and Zach Shields, to platinum recording artist Travie McCoy, "Renee" features tracks that will speak to any music lover.
Renee Yohe says, “Music has always been an escape for me and has been the healthy way to lift me out of some of my darkest times."
Director/Editor Nathan Frankowski agrees, “Renee has always maintained that her first drug of choice has always been music. Since it is special to Renee, it had to be in the film.”
He continues, “In Kate’s first script, when she has Renee put on her earphones and these artists appear before her, as a filmmaker that gives you so many fun music moments to branch into. You can show emotion in music through film as well.”
Kat Dennings adds, “Music is a big deal for Renee, and in the film, it’s the only thing that takes her to a different place, kind of like the portal between her world and reality. What’s going to be really cool is that you’re seeing the music through Renee’s eyes, in her head and not in her reality, which makes sense to me in this kind of movie.”
A musician in his own right, Corbin Bleu maintains, “It was one of the deciding factors of why I really wanted to do this movie because of the whole music vibe. Any time the music swells up in the film, all of the sudden you can be guaranteed that some wild psychedelic scene is about to take place in Renee’s imagination.”
Chad Michael Murray offers, “Incorporating the music is fantastic! That edgy, independent rough vibe—I totally dug that. Plus, a lot of healing in life is done through music on your own, so I think that’s why it really plays very well with the story.”
Rupert Friend smiles, “I knew how old I was when I read the script because I hadn’t heard of any of the bands, but I loved the concept. Thematically, the idea of transporting yourself through music is good – it’s something that we all do. With this kind of film, where you have a fantasy element, we’re going to see what we all imagine and that’s going to be exciting.”
Juliana Harkavy considers, “Nathan always reminded us that Renee’s first drug of choice is music. What emotionally is going on with her when it’s happening is paralleled by the music you’ll hear. It’s all been very carefully selected and placed in the right places. It’s part of those ‘wow’ moments for the audiences; I don’t think they’re ever going to be bored because they’re not going to know what comes next.”
Mark Saul adds, “When I first read the script, I was like ‘wow,’ there’s a lot of songs in this that will be impossible to put into a movie because they’re some very popular songs and interesting bands. Then, the way that they incorporate them into the scenes, I was like there’s no way that they’re really going to do that.”
But the filmmakers of “Renee” were able to do just that—get performers and the rights to key songs to make the movie that much more entertaining for audiences.
ON-SCREEN MUSIC PERFORMANCES
Music supervisor and associate producer, Josh Lujan Loveless, is responsible for organizing the artists who perform in the movie.
He also has a personal connection to the real Renee Yohe, David McKenna and Jamie Tworkowski.
Lujan Loveless offers, “I developed a friendship with McKenna, Renee & Jamie Tworkowski several years ago. Through a series of circumstances, I was there the night that McKenna met Renee. Now, as the film is being made, it’s exciting to be a part of it as the music supervisor and associate producer.”
Lujan Loveless who runs Bonded Entertainment with Producer David McKenna was able to reach out to many of the artists that were in the original script. He secured commitments from popular hip-hop artist Travie McCoy, singer/songwriter Rachael Yamagata and the brother/sister electro-pop duo Flint Eastwood. He also landed Paper Route and the former band, Between The Trees (managed by David McKenna), to be a part of the musical festival scene that is in the movie. In addition, he brought singer/songwriter Danny Leggett, native to Orlando and an up-and-coming musician, into the mix.
Travie McCoy performs his hit, "AKidAgain," off his “Lazarus” album in one of the first scenes where Kat Dennings, Mark Saul & Juliana Harkavy are walking the hallways of their high school.
Regarding his involvement, McCoy offers, “I already had prior knowledge about To Write Love on Her Arms from being on the Warped Tour. Plus, it’s definitely a story I can relate to because I’ve been in a very dark place and had to pry my way out.”
He adds, “I thought my song complemented the scene. The lyrics are about going back to when I was real young, then going back to between now and halfway between now, and the then third verse is like an introspective of how cool it would be to go back, but we can’t.”
As to being in the movie, McCoy reveals, “When Renee puts on her headphones, she’s listening to my song and I pop out in the hallway, like a student with the rest of the kids, ‘getting down.’ I really felt like I was back in high school while we filmed it and had the time of my life!”
When it comes to Flint Eastwood, the sister & brother duo of Jax and Seth Anderson, they perform their song “Billy The Kid” during a time when Kat Denning’s character of ‘Renee’ is coming off a drug binge and can’t sleep while at McKenna’s loft. She goes downstairs, puts on her headphones and dances to the music as other (wildly costumed) dancers and a high school marching band joins her while she rocks out to her imaginary dance party.
Jax Anderson says, “Music has always played a major role in my life so I can definitely connect to it as an escape for Renee. Every time we would go out as a family, I would put on my headphones and be in my own world. Music was something that I could control and it brought me a lot of hope.”
As for what is happening with this movie and its use of music, Jax considers, “This film in particular is using such great bands and such great artists that I feel like it’s really going to push the story along and capture people’s attention. It’s really something that has never been done before-- at least not to my knowledge.”
Singer/songwriter Rachael Yamagata sings “Keep Going” during a montage sequence that shows ‘Renee’ while she is in the rehab center.
Yamagata reveals, “Keep Going was one of the first positive songs I’ve ever written. It’s a hopeful song based on really connecting with one another.”
As for her participation in this movie, she offers, “I have my own personal history with family and addictions, and it really struck a chord, like giving me a little bit of therapy. When I heard the backstory about Renee, it just sealed the deal for me to be a part of this movie. This story has such a universal chord for so many different people and I’m a big believer in synchronicities.”
She continues, “Music is such a tonic for life’s tragedies. When you match something musical with a storyline, it’s like layers of a cake that just keeps getting richer and richer. I love when the right song is in the right scene of a film and you match those ingredients to just continually floor your audience.”
Besides the professional musicians who appear as themselves, actor/musician Corbin Bleu performs in the movie as his respective characters, ‘Mackey.’
With two albums already released, Bleu offers, “When I first read the script, I really loved this musicality side of my character. The very first time you see my character he is playing a guitar and singing J.J. Cale’s ‘Cocaine.’”
He adds, “This is actually the first time J.J. Cale’s ‘Cocaine’ has ever been performed in a movie and not part of the soundtrack so that was very exciting. Plus, for the scene, when the tension is building between Renee and another guy, my character’s way of breaking the tension is to lead this mantra of singing the song.”
Bleu admits, “I had to learn to play the guitar, but the guitar I used to learn on was electric. Since I wasn’t slick enough to make it look effortless on the acoustic guitar for the scene, Ryan Kirkland of Between The Trees, is the one actually playing while I sing.” Ryan Kirkland praises, “Corbin came in for a rehearsal the day before we shot the scene, and I walked him through some simple ways to do the chords to make sure it looked like he knew what he was doing. When it came to filming, we used a prop guitar so that he could play it without any sound coming out of the guitar. It’s actually me playing off screen, but Corbin was impressive; he made it look real in minimal amount of time.”
Bleu appreciated Kirkland’s help, “Any time I get a chance to work with anything with music and learn from any great musicians, I’m always down with that!”
Mark Saul’s character Dylan also performs Coldplay’s “The Scientist” for a scene where he shows ‘Renee’ that he, too, is trying to overcome his own fears by performing in front of a group of people at a coffee house during an open mic session.