'Men, Women & Children' director Jason Reitman talks TIFF, fatherhood and making deals mid-air

Filmmaker Jason Reitman grew up around movie theatres – and not just because he’s the son of famed Canadian director Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Meatballs, Kindergarten Cop). “When I was 15, it was movies, movies and movies,” laughs the director, now 36. “The Cineplex was in its infancy and my parents would drop me off and I would go to three [shows] in a day!”

It paid off. Jason is now an Oscar-nominated director with acclaimed, emotionally charged hits such as Juno, Thank You for Smoking and Up in the Air to his credit.

This month, he returns to the silver screen with Men, Women & Children. Featuring an ensemble cast of A-listers including Jennifer Garner, Adam Sandler and The Fault in Our Stars actor Ansel Elgort, the movie questions the impact technology has had on modern existence through the connecting stories of a group of parents and teens.

As a father – Jason has a daughter Josephine, with ex Michele Lee – that’s certainly top of mind, he reveals during mini-press conference for the movie at the Toronto International Film Festival where he talks hanging with Jennifer Garner (for an interview with the actress, check out the new issue of Hello! Canada) and the future of film…

What was it like to reunite with Jennifer, with whom you worked on 2007’s Juno. You’re put her in two unsympathetic roles now!
They’re kind of sympathetic. I’m a bad judge of character. [Laughs] I find so much humanity in both roles that I’ve cast [her] in. It makes perfect sense to me but people say to me all the time, “Do you have it out for her?” There is a darkness in Jen Garner! [Laughs]

We heard you gave her the script on plane and got her to do the movie… We were going to the set of Draft Day [in Cleveland, which starred Jennifer and was directed by Jason’s father, Ivan]. It all happened mid-air. It’s a great way to try to get an actor to do your movie.

Are you worried about the impact technology will have on your daughter?
I’m terrified of her having access to the Internet. I fear every time she asks for a [cell] phone. I’m thinking, “God, I hope we can make it to 10 years old without a phone. That would be amazing.” It’s funny, now fellow parents come to me and the scary line that their children say to them now is, “Dad, I saw something on the Internet.” That’s the worst opening of any conversation.

How are you going to get through it?
I think you have to create an open line of communication because if you don’t answer, it’s not that they’re going to go to their friends and ask; they’re going to go online and ask. Imagine your 10 or 12-year old and the responses they’re getting from adults [online]. They may not understand the irony about what the adults are saying. It’s terrifying so you just have to be ready to answer tough questions and have tough conversations.

Do you think people will see your movie as a cautionary tale about how we’re losing connections?
If they do, I’m not against that, I just don’t pretend like I’m a filmmaker with the answers. I think that’s pretty presumptuous. Hopefully it’s because you have similar questions as the audience and this is an opportunity to kind of figure them out and air them out.

How do you think technology is affecting your industry?
We’re in a really unique time. Nobody knows where we’re going to watch things anymore. Studios don’t know if people are going to watch things in theatres anymore; if they’re going to watch them online. If they do watch them online, are they going to be buying them online? Streaming them online? Getting paid-per-view? Everyone’s confused. At the core of it, there are people like us who are still trying to make movies and try to tell interesting stories. I am really grateful that I’m getting to make the movies that I am and tell the stories that I am.”

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