The Dandy Warhols "Catcher in the Rye" (Mike Bruce, dir.)

The Dandy Warhols - "Catcher in the Rye" Official

As close as you're gonna get to a JD Salinger film adaptation?

Mike Bruce, director: "I received a phone call from Courtney [Taylor-Taylor of The Dandy Warhols] in June about doing a video for their song "Catcher In The Rye." Brent [DeBoer of The Dandy Warhols] had put the idea in his ear about making a video based on the last chapter from the highly celebrated novel. Being a lover of all things nostalgic, of course I was immediately into the idea, I mean, the track is exceptional and it’s such a beloved book. What’s not to like? Reading The Catcher In The Rye is really a sort of rite of passage for everyone in their mid to late teens. At least it was when I grew up. I felt extremely fortunate to be given the opportunity to create a cinematic interpretation of the novel for the song. We wanted it to look like a classic film. I wrote a treatment which I felt captured a few key moments and the overall mood and tone of the relationship between Holden Caulfield and his kid sister, Phoebe. 

Next was casting.

It was apparent from the start casting would be crucial. I knew right away I wanted to cast Duke Nicholson (Jack's grandson), as Holden Caulfield. His mother and I are friends so I already knew him personally and knew he would be great. It just made sense. He had also expressed his desire to get into acting to carry on his grandfather’s legacy. I think he really embodied Holden’s character in the video. Casting for the role of Phoebe didn’t come about so easily. We wanted to find a young girl who was already somewhat established and had a strong online presence who could play twelve to fourteen years old but who also possessed great acting chops. Not so easy to find. After a month or so of scouring through endless instagram accounts and imdb pages, a buddy of mine sent me to Caitlin Carmichael’s instagram page. Then I looked her up on imdb and checked out some of her youtube videos. She was slightly older than what we were looking for but she’s such a great actress and turned out to be better than I could have imagined. As it turns out, it seemed to be in the stars for her. When her mom received the phone call from Caitlin’s agent about playing Phoebe Caulfield, she was actually holding the book in her hands. A friend had given her the book as a present just a couple of weeks earlier and she was in the middle of reading it for the first time. So it was meant to be.

Picking the locations had its own set of challenges. First of all we were working with a pretty small budget for what we wanted to achieve, which is usually the case these days. What that means is we couldn’t afford location insurance or permits. Yet we needed to shoot in Los Angeles. Usually in LA those things add up to the entire budget for a music video which means you have nothing left to spend on the actual production, all of your money goes into producing a piece of paper which makes you official to authorities. So I had to figure out a way to create a classic looking film while shooting run and gun guerrilla style in high profile areas. The way to achieve this is by maintaining a low profile presence with very little crew and gear. When we were actually shooting I made sure it was just the actors, my cinematographer, one assistant and myself present. HMU and wardrobe were usually hiding around a corner somewhere. We shot the opening walking scenes in front of Lucille Ball’s house in Beverly Hills. I had originally picked Carroll Avenue in Echo Park because of all the victorian homes and old street lights. But there were too many modern cars parked along the street at any given time of day. Then one day I was randomly passing through Beverly Hills near Bel Air and decided to turn down a street to look around. Suddenly it hit me, only the most affluent neighborhoods would be clear of street parking. Another advantage was the neighborhood matched the park and carousel location much better than the Carroll Avenue location. Picking the carousel was a no brainer. First of all, there aren’t very many carousels left in the world that fit the time period of the book. Secondly, it had to be special and I already knew of one in Griffith Park. I’ve been hiking there for years and I’m familiar with the whole history of that area including the carousel which dates back to the late 1800’s. Walt Disney used to take his kids to that same carousel. He would sit on a nearby bench and watch them. It was on this bench he first had the idea of creating some sort of amusement park where parents could take their kids and have just as much fun as the children. This spark of an idea is what eventually became Disneyland.

The shoot turned out to be one of my best experiences as a director and I’m very happy with the results. I don’t usually make a point of saving memorabilia from my films but I saved the bench (Actually, I stole it from my production designer) and it is currently sitting in front of my goldfish fountain. When guests ask why the word ‘Book’ is written on it I have a cool story to share with them. You can’t rub out all the books in the world."