In 1973, the Loud family became a television sensation of a new kind. It was long before a metal rock star showed his eccentric family on the small screen and decades before housewives had screaming matches with each other on camera in public.
Cinema Verite tells the behind-the-scenes story of the groundbreaking documentary An American Family, which chronicled the lives of the Louds in the early 1970s and catapulted the Santa Barbara family to notoriety while creating a new television genre: the reality TV series. Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Diane Lane (Secretariat, Unfaithful), Oscar and Golden Globe winner Tim Robbins (Mystic River, Dead Man Walking) and Golden Globe and Emmy winner James Gandolfini (Where the Wild Things Are, HBO's The Sopranos) star in the HBO Films presentation, directed by Oscar nominees Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (The Nanny Diaries, HBO's American Splendor) and written by David Seltzer (The Omen, Punchline).
The film also stars Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous, Saved!), Kathleen Quinlan (Apollo 13, A Civil Action), Lolita Davidovich (Hollywood Homicide, Gods and Monsters), Shanna Collins (Swingtown, In My Sleep) and Thomas Dekker (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, A Nightmare on Elm Street).
Cinema Verite is an HBO Films presentation of a Pariah Production; Gavin Polone (Gilmore Girls, HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Zanne Devine (Easy A, The Guardian) executive produce; Karyn McCarthy (Syriana, HBO's John Adams) produces.
An American Family was a total departure from the television shows of the time when it aired in 1973, and brought public scrutiny to a family unprepared for the consequences. It put the Louds in the spotlight as the parents (Diane Lane, Tim Robbins) struggled with their marriage while raising their children. In particular, Pat was criticized for her support of her openly gay son Lance (Thomas Dekker) at a time when homosexuality was rarely represented on television.
Cinema Verite gives a behind-the-scenes look at how the original PBS series was created by producer Craig Gilbert (James Gandolfini). While he aimed to have an impact on culture, he also felt that the family's struggles were relatable to many Americans in a way that the Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family were not. Filmmakers Alan and Susan Raymond (Patrick Fugit, Shanna Collins) spent seven months filming the family in 1971 and were often at odds with Gilbert about what content was appropriate to film.
Principal photography on Cinema Verite was completed in Southern California, with additional filming in New York City, in summer 2010. HBO Films vice president Tara Grace and director of development Jennifer Soskin are the executives in charge of production.