On Sunday afternoon, the long-awaited Binghamton-set movie “The Rewrite” finally premiered on campus, followed by a question-and-answer session with star Hugh Grant and writer-director Marc Lawrence.
President Harvey Stenger introduced Lawrence and the movie itself, which is about a washed-up screenwriter named Keith Michaels, played by Hugh Grant, who accepts a teaching job at Binghamton University. At Binghamton, Michaels sleeps with one of his students and falls into the bad graces of a powerful professor, played by Allison Janney, who’s the chair of the University’s ethics committee. In redeeming himself, he falls in love with another student and single mother, played by Marisa Tomei.
Lawrence graduated from Binghamton University with a degree in English in 1981. He made the movie as “a love letter to Binghamton.” Tickets to the event, in the Osterhout Concert Theater, were distributed on Monday and Tuesday last week, quickly selling out on each day.
After the movie was screened — to applause at every one of the numerous Binghamton references — Lawrence and Grant took the stage to answer questions from the audience, moderated by Stenger.
Students, faculty members and local residents flirted with Grant, asked Lawrence about his time as a student and asked them both about their careers.
They also asked what it was like to shoot the movie here. One woman asked Grant what his favorite place in Binghamton was.
“Well, it’s hard to choose,” Grant said to laughter and applause. “I think, in the end, it might be the Red Robin.”
Both said they would have liked to film the entire movie in Binghamton, but the budget wasn’t big enough, and they could be here for only a few days. They shot the rest of “The Rewrite” at LIU Post on Long Island.
“It’s a strange thing,” Lawrence said. When you film a movie on location, there are what are called ‘film hubs’ around the country. Atlanta is one, and New Orleans is one. Binghamton is not, for some reason.” Shooting outside of a film hub would mean finding housing for the entire film crew — in this case, around 150 people, for nearly two months. “That would cost more than shooting the film in New York City.”
Steven Kaplan, Emily Morden and Annie Q., all of whom played students in the movie, also attended the premiere. Kaplan went to New York University, but his two brothers are BU alumni.
“I have been here when I came to visit my older brothers, except I can’t tell you stories about what happened when I came to visit,” Kaplan said.
The night before the screening, The Clyde Lawrence Band, named after and fronted by Marc Lawrence’s son, who also scored “The Rewrite,” played in The Undergrounds. Clyde’s a senior at Brown University, and his band plays a mixture of original, funk and jazz-inspired rock songs and covers pop songs in the same style.
Earlier that day, Marc and Clyde participated in a Q-and-A session with a select group of students and University faculty members. “The Rewrite” was the first feature film Clyde scored — he’s done other films since then — and he said that working with his father was easy, compared to some of the other directors he’s worked with.
“Different directors have totally different approaches, and 60 percent of the job, when scoring, is figuring out what the director wants,” Clyde said.
After the screening, Grant told the audience how he feels about Lawrence’s movies.
“I didn’t want to do any of his movies, I just felt sorry for him,” Grant joked. “But no — for me, his scripts always make me laugh, and it’s impossible to resist.”