TORONTO – On the day he started filming Men, Women and Children, Jason Reitman had one request of the young actors who were part of his ensemble cast: don’t share your on-set experiences online.
The social media blackout was somewhat ironic as the film explores the impact of constant online connectivity on people’s lives, but Reitman imposed it for a reason.
“I said ‘look, you’re about to have a really special experience, you’re about to make this movie together, there’s eight of you…you’re going to have an instinct to want to tweet things and Instagram things and share things, and I implore you to not do any of that,'” the Montreal-born director recounted at the Toronto International Film Festival, where the movie premieres Saturday.
Reitman went on to explain that he wanted his flock of young talent to fully absorb the experience of making the film.
“‘You’re never going to have this experience again, you’re all so young, no movie is going to be like this,” he told them.
“‘Make things just between the eight of you, and create experiences that you’re never going to share with anybody and five, ten years from now, you’re going to thank me because those will belong to you and nobody else.'”
The young actors appeared to have honoured the request, resisting the urge to post updates on their filming experience despite the online world being an intrinsic part of their lives, Reitman said.
“I kind of put a line down with these actors for whom social media is not even a second thought,” he said. “For us it is a second thought, for them, they’re 18 years old, it’s as regular as having breakfast lunch and dinner.”
No such request had to be made to Jennifer Garner, who plays a mother who takes protecting her daughter from the dangers of online exposure to the extreme.
“I’m not on social media,” the actress said simply.
When pressed to explain why she stayed away from sharing snippets of her personal life online, Garner called social media a “time suck.”
“I don’t understand what I would have to offer that I would be willing to give,” she explained.
“I would certainly never pimp out my children and that’s really what people are interested in. I’m not going to talk about my marriage on social media…I just have no interest in being pulled or feeling guilty about not answering one more thing than I already do.”
The film also features Adam Sandler and Rosemarie DeWitt as a long-married couple who turn to the Internet for connection after losing the spark in their marriage, Judy Greer as a fame-obsessed single mother, and Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars) and Kaitlyn Denver as two high-schoolers trying to find a meaningful relationship in a world of constant communication.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs until Sept. 14.