by Rosalie Kicks!, Old Sport
As a person who speaks to inanimate objects, sports purple hair and has a room in her home referred to as The Lab in which crafting experiments involving copious amounts of glitter are conducted while donning a laboratory coat, it really is not much of a stretch to believe that the movie, Unicorn Store was made especially for me.
Directed by Brie Larson, Unicorn Store tells the story of Kit (played by Brie Larson), a lady who receives an unusual invitation that leads her on a mythical adventure and the possibility of fulfilling a childhood dream. I had the opportunity of seeing this film at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and pretty much can’t wait to watch it again. There are so few stories told that really encapsulate how I felt as a young female. Screenwriter Samantha McIntyre manages to do just this by presenting a story that represents a person realizing that growing up does not mean that you must forget your dreams. Instead, the story shows that becoming an adult means accepting who you are and not being afraid to share your personality with others.
The movie opens with Kit retuning home a failed artist. Lost and depressed, she finds comfort in daytime TV while snuggling a box of Cheez-Its. Her TV watching pays off. After seeing an ad, she decides to become a temp agent and pursue the corporate life. She climbs into a suit, grabs her briefcase and is off to have a life filled with responsibility. Everything changes when she receives the mysterious invitation requesting her presence at the Unicorn Store. What awaits her? Welllll, a magical sparkly place in which Samuel L. Jackson struts out in a pink suit, has tinsel in his hair and provides the chance of a lifetime: the opportunity to own an actual Unicorn. All Kit needs to do is follow a few steps to prove she has enough whimsy and responsibility to care for this magical creature.
Unicorn Store is a reminder of why it is important for ladies to tell stories. It was so refreshing to see a fun creative female character driving the plot of a story. The premise may be silly (to those who don’t believe in unicorns), but I found that the story truly spoke to me as did Kit’s wardrobe (I looooooved her clothes!). Kit’s transformation from artist to office life is something that I too had to go through and am still dealing with. This film was a reminder to not give up on myself or the artist that is inside of me. To be proud of who I am and not be afraid to share my flair with the world. Samantha, thank you for writing this story and reminding me that is ok to believe in rainbows, unicorns, and my dreams.
Through the power of Instagram, your favorite Old Sport was able to track down screenwriter Samantha McIntyre and she graciously agreed to answer questions about her career and the film. Enjoy and don’t forget to check out Unicorn Store, coming to a theater near you soon!
Rosalie Kicks (RK): What made you want to pursue screenwriting as a career?
Samantha McIntyre (SM): After college, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting, but got frustrated with the “audition life” and decided to try writing. It felt like a way I could be creative, and produce content, without needing anyone else. As an actor, sometimes you feel like you are just waiting all the time for someone to give you an opportunity. With writing, I can do it anywhere, anytime. So, I tried writing a spec of The Office and it was accepted into the Warner Bros Writers Workshop. That led to my first staff job and I’ve now been writing television comedy for ten years. (I’m currently a writer/producer on People of Earth on TBS.) Unicorn Store is my first produced screenplay, but the crazy thing is that I wrote the first draft of it 8 years ago! Anyway, I keep thinking that someday I’ll write myself a part to play.
RK: Why did you feel Unicorn Store needed to be told?
SM: I know there are already so many movies about “following your dreams,” but I guess I wanted to tell my own version of that movie. Also, I really wanted to write a movie that would require someone to bring a unicorn on set.
RK: What inspired you to write this story and are there any personal connections?
SM: I used to fantasize as a child that my Hello Kitty doll would come to life and I would even think about that sometimes as a grown-up. Like, wouldn’t that be great if my stuffed Hello Kitty doll was just walking around my house? It made me a little sad that it couldn’t ever be, but also made me laugh at myself for still thinking about it? Like, it’s just so bittersweet to grow up and know that certain dreams just can’t ever physically come true. We all have to come to peace with the fact that we can’t fly or that we can’t be one of the X-Men when we grow up. So that idea turned into Unicorn Store, where a woman is actually offered her impossible childhood dream and the journey she goes on forces her to grow up a little bit.
RK: When did you know when your script was finished/ready to be filmed?
SM: I guess it was never finished because we were always making changes, but, honestly, I felt ready to make it 8 years ago! I took it to the Sundance Writers Lab in 2010, which was very helpful in thinking through what I wanted the movie to say. The whole lengthy process was rewarding in the end because we ended up making it with all the right people, and at the right time. I don’t really believe in fate, but there was something magical in the way it finally came together with Brie starring in it and directing it.
RK: How did it come about that Brie Larson would direct?
SM: Brie had auditioned for the part in 2012, when we had a different director, and she and I had met over lunch and I just loved her. I thought she really connected to the character of Kit. Then a different actor ended up being cast, but after a couple years, that version of the movie never came together. So after Brie finished making Room, we were trying to think of new ideas for directors and we all thought of Brie and thought she would be amazing. I remember thinking, “I hope she remembers this script…” and she did! She agreed to direct it and I was beyond thrilled. And I really wanted her to play Kit too. She did so much preparation as a director, that she already knew the character better than anyone.
RK: Were you part of the film production process?
SM: I was an executive producer on the movie, and on the set every day, so I could help with any last minute script changes. I also had a little cameo in the final scene which was super fun for me!
RK: Who is your favorite female screenwriter/filmmaker?
SM: I will always love Nora Ephron for writing When Harry Met Sally. I just love that movie. She created an emotional and super funny script during a time when there were even less female screenwriters than there are now.
RK: Will people be able to view the film soon?
SM: I hope it will come out next year - we are working on those details now! I’m dying for people to see it - especially young women.
RK: The character, Kit wore a lot of pin flair... do you also wear flair? What’s your favorite?
SM: I have the clothing tastes of a 7-year-old child, so yes, I have a lot of patches and pins. I have an amazing pin from this company called Band of Weirdos that says, “Secret Society of Beyonce.” Also, my mom found a bunch of my old Girl Scout patches and I put the “theater masks” one onto my jacket.
RK: Moviejawn’s theme this month is dreams/fantasy, what is your favorite film that fits this theme?
SM: It’s hard to pick one, but I’ll say The Princess Bride. It’s a genius blending of genres. It has everything - comedy, drama, fantasy, adventure, romance. I had every word of it memorized as a kid, and if I randomly catch it on TV, I will stop and watch it every time.
RK: Any thought about your next project?
SM: I’m working on a space/sci-fi adventure about an all-female ship crew that I hope will be fun and cool. I am a huge Star Trek fan, but always wished they had more girls.
RK: Where is your favorite cinema to see a movie?
SM: The Arclight Cinemas in Sherman Oaks, California.
RK: What is your favorite concession when you go to the movies?
SM: Does it count as one thing if I say a box of Junior Mints dumped into a bucket of popcorn?
RK: Haha, yes that totally counts!