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Joel Schumacher On How Twelve Is Like ‘Gossip Girl on Steroids’

We ran into Joel Schumacher at last night’s Independent Filmmaker Project Spring Gala, where we had the chance to talk to him about his upcoming movie, Twelve. It’s an adaptation of Nick McDonell’s novel of Upper East Side teenage privilege (gone awry, of course), and stars that UES privileged-youth avatar, Gossip Girl’s Chace Crawford. We talked to Schumacher (St. Elmo’s Fire, The Lost Boys) about the dangers of working with Crawford in a neighborhood where hunting for Gossip Girl stars is a deadly sport.

Did you watch Gossip Girl to get a sense for Twelve? It’s set in the same world of Upper East Side privilege
Well, this is kind of Gossip Girl on steroids. It’s much darker. It’s also from a great piece of literature that Nick wrote when he was 17. Even though I’m a poor boy from a humble but noble home in Long Island City, I managed to social-climb very early in life, [Laughs] so I know this world myself very well. But I thought I should watch an episode of Gossip Girl so I could tell Chace I watched it. And the one I watched, Ed Westwick’s father had died, it was a funeral, and Chace came in at the end with his girlfriend and paid his respects. So I really didn’t get a sense of him on that. But when I auditioned him I knew he was right for the part.

He spent a long time training for Footloose. Was he overly muscular?

No. He had gotten very thin because the opening lines of the book are, “White Mike is pale and thin like smoke.” So he lost a lot of weight.

Were there any crazy incidents with Upper East Side schoolgirls while Chace Crawford was on the street?
Well, the most insane one was we were shooting at night on Park Avenue around 60th Street, and there’s an SUV going uptown, passing us, and there were three girls, and I think they were obviously very rich girls; they were Middle Eastern, and they had a driver/bodyguard. While the car was moving, the girl behind the passenger seat threw open the door and jumped out and caught her foot in her seat belt. And then, of course, the driver realized, and he stops. These girls were hysterical, okay? They were like, “Ooohhh, Chace Crawford!” And so, I said, “Do you realize you almost killed yourself?” And she was so on adrenaline and so excited she didn’t even know what I was talking about. So I said, “You can stand behind the video monitor, but you can’t speak, you can’t scream, and you can’t take a photo.” The second we started rolling she snapped a picture, and we took it back and we threw her off the set. She didn’t play by the rules!

50 Cent is also in the film. What’s he like to work with?
The greatest. You know, he’s a total gentleman. When I knew he wanted to play this part, he flew up from Miami on his way to Egypt to do a concert, and he just had time for breakfast, and it was, like eight o’clock in the morning. And I thought, okay, I’m going to be there at 8, and we know rappers, okay? But he was there waiting with his manager Barry, who’s been a phenomenal help. He’s a total gentleman. He was really raised by his grandmother and grandfather, and he said there are two of him: There was the street ‘Fitty,’ but then there was Curtis who went to church with his grandparents. And that’s sort of the secret to him.

The shoot was only 23 days. How do you contend with such a fast shoot? Do you sleep during that time?
It’s my life. Film is my life! [Overly dramatic] This is my passion.

You can probably do it in your sleep at this point?
Yeah, sure. It’s really easy. No, it’s not all blow jobs and sunglasses, you know.

Sometimes it’s just … sunglasses.

Joel Schumacher On How Twelve Is Like ‘Gossip Girl on Steroids’