Punk Rock love story Dinner In America traveled a long, bumpy road to get from script to screen. Our writer Cassie Hager talked to star Kyle Gallner about why movie goers love it — and distributors are afraid of it.
Q: How did you get involved with the film?
One of the producers had me read for another project that I was very wrong for. But they really liked me and that whole team kept in contact and said “Hey, we have a new movie, can we send you the script?” and it was Dinner In America. At that time I was working on a show called Outsiders, I had two kids that were under 3 years old, and it was chaos. I opened the script, got distracted and never got back to it. Years later I was on set in Romania, and JP (Jean-Philippe Bernier, Dinner In America cinematographer) was on set. He started talking about a movie they were going to make that fell apart and I realized it was the script I had been sent 2 years before. So I read it that night and was like… this is amazing. It was this long-time, full circle divine intervention thing.
Q: This film’s initial release was back in 2020 but we are just seeing it now. What the heck happened there?
We made a movie that audiences and festivals like and distributors are scared of. The movie’s first 20 minutes are pretty abrasive and I think in our world right now a lot of people are scared to jump on board with things like this. Which I think is a little ridiculous because it’s like saying the world doesn’t exist as it is. It’s like putting your head in the sand and being afraid to admit that there is still racism and people do treat other people horribly and say terrible things. Our biggest hurdle was those first 20 minutes.
Q: Was there talk about changing the first 20 minutes and you guys had to stand your ground?
Yeah, we had distributors come and say “We’ll do it if you get rid of this,” and Adam (Rehmeier) was like… absolutely not. It’s been proven with festivals and audiences that people love the movie. It’s not a problem. It’s these other people that are scared. At the end of the day, we’re not doing these things and saying these things to make you laugh. That comes later. Those first 20 minutes make you feel uncomfortable for a reason.
Q: I can tell that this movie means a lot to you and that you are so proud of it.
I am. This is 20 years of work coming together in a way that makes sense. I worked hard for 20 years to hone my craft. I have a director I trust and a co-star (Emily Skeggs) I trust and these great characters that are usually peripheral characters that are being brought front and center. I got pushed in a different way than I’ve ever been. Emily and I had each other’s backs and we both really trusted Adam.
Q: So it’s out on VOD now, will it be streaming anywhere?
That’s the next battle. But I think with people watching it and the positive response, almost everyone really falls in love with the movie and people are starting to dig it. So if that keeps expanding and word-of-mouth keeps going I think it will become unstoppable. It really resonates with a lot of people. Everybody at some point in their life has felt like an outcast so you’re able to attach yourself to these characters. I’ve never been involved in something that crosses age, demographic, genre and everything the way that this movie does.
Dinner In America is written and directed by Adam Rehmeier and stars Kyle Gallner, Emily Skeggs, Lea Thompson, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Griffin Gluck, and Pat Healy. It’s available to rent on VOD in the U.S. now.