Max Minghella and Jamie Bell Talk 'Teen Spirit' and Making a Film for Young People 'That Doesn't Speak Down to Them'
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Minghella tells TooFab he wanted to create "a protagonist who is a reflection of a real human being."

Max Minghella and Jamie Bell created a genuine masterpiece with an uplifting message for today's youth with "Teen Spirit."

In a recent interview with TooFab, "The Handmaid's Tale" star and "Fantastic Four" actor -- who make their directorial and EP debut, respectively, in the film -- spoke about the creative decisions they made for the musical drama, including which songs to put in the film and how Elle Fanning impacted the way her character was portrayed onscreen.

The film follows Violet Valenski (Fanning), a shy teenager from a small town who dreams of pursuing her passion of singing. She enters a local singing competition and puts her integrity, talent and ambition to the test.

Usually, in Cinderella stories, the main female protagonist gets some sort of major "makeover;" however, in "Teen Spirit," Fanning's character gets only slightly glammed up. For the most part, her physical appearance stays as is. So despite being in a televised vocal competition, Violet's able to stay true to herself.

Minghella and Bell told TooFab that decision was made with Fanning -- a decision that wound up impacting the entire message of the movie.

"The problem making movies is that nothing is accidental decision, really," Minghella said. "You have to make a decision about everything. Sometimes you make the wrong decision, but I think those were all the right decisions."

Bell added, "Also, Elle, I would say!"

"Completely," Minghella replied. "We wanted to make a movie for young people that doesn't speak down to them and also has a protagonist who is a reflection of a real human being in the world, and not kind of a male perception of what a young person in the world should be, and her not wearing makeup or not smiling all the time, or not having the best moral compass at every point in the film. Those are all massively, massively important to why we're making this movie in the first place."

In the film, Fanning flawlessly belts out covers of popular hits from pop divas including Sia, Katy Perry, Sigrid and Robyn. Not only is "Teen Spirit" loaded with Fanning's vocals, but it's also fueled by an incredible pop soundtrack that showcases bangers from Ariana Grande, No Doubt and DJ Snake --just to name just a few.

Like their other creative decisions, Minghella and Bell made sure the right songs were put in the correct scenes to fit the tone of the film. Minghella told TooFab only one song changed, and it was for a very important reason.

"It was all prescribed in the script and prescribed pretty early in the scripts," Minghella said. "I don't think the music changed that much. The only song that changed was the final song that she performs at the end of the movie, 'Don't Kill My Vibe,' the Sigrid song which came out pretty recently. For a long time, we had a ballad in that place, and it felt like the obvious thing to do ... and I think that's actually why we changed it, because it felt like the obvious thing to do.

"[We wanted to] make it different," he continued. "And also something that is just more true to not only this character but to who Elle had turned this character into. She has such authorship over this person, and she created somebody who's really wild at heart and rebellious and complicated, authentic and dimensional. And we think that song kind of reflected that."

"Teen Spirit" is in theaters now.

Got a story or a tip for us? Email TooFab editors at tips@toofab.com.

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