A lonely obese teenager everyone calls "Butter" (Alex Kersting) is about to make history. He is going to eat himself to death, live on the Internet, and everyone is invited to watch. When he first makes the announcement, online to his classmates, Butter expects pity, insults, and possibly sheer indifference. What he gets are morbid cheerleaders rallying around his deadly plan. Yet as their dark encouragement grows, it begins to feel a lot like popularity. And that feels good. But what happens when Butter reaches his suicide deadline? Can he live with the fallout if he doesn't go through with his plans?
Butter (Alex Kersting) is a smart, funny high school junior who happens to weigh 423 pounds. His eating issues stem from multiple sources, but one day when the pressure becomes too much, he opens a website called Buttersfinalmeal.com. Here he invites his classmates to watch as he consumes his last meal on New Year's Eve, literally eating himself to death. The overwhelming positive reaction to his posting astonishes him, and he becomes an instant member of the in crowd (Jack Griffo and Adain Bradley). But even finding the friendship he craves doesn't help ease his internal pain. His mom (Mira Sorvino) still supplies him with high-calorie "comfort" foods; his dad (Brian Van Holt) still looks at him in disgust, and Anna (McKaley Miller), the most beautiful girl at school, won't give him a second glance. His doctor (Ravi Patel) and his music teacher (Mykelti Williamson) are his only mentors, but he keeps them in the dark about his deadly plan. Playing his saxophone and spending time as his online alter ego, JP, a tall, athletic hunk who chats for hours online with Anna, provide the only real comforts in his life.
The story heads toward a frightening climax as Butter discovers that his newfound friends are just as cruel in their own way as those who abused him in the past. The ending leaves Butter realistically examining his options for the future.
Based on the Best-Selling YA novel of the same name by Erin Jade Lange.
DIRECTOR STATEMENT BY PAUL A. KAUFMAN
“You think I eat a lot now? That’s nothing. Tune in December 31st, when I will stream a live webcast of my last meal. Death row inmates get one. Why shouldn’t I? I can’t take another year in this fat suit, but I can end this year with a bang. If you can stomach it, you’re invited to watch…as I eat myself to death.” — Butter
Gobsmacked! That’s how I felt when I first read this quote from Erin Lange’s novel, BUTTER. I was surfing Amazon looking for a book to option to adapt into my next film. My kids were 17 and 19 and I wanted something that could affect them in a positive way but nothing too soft or too dark. I searched words like “reliance”, “bullying”, “self-esteem”, “family issues” and such. I spent days going from book to book searching for that connection to a story I wanted to tell - ultimately a story that could “inspire”, a theme that resonates with most of my work. That was when I found Butter or as I put it, Butter found me.
Who was this “Butter” and how on earth can he eat himself to death? And why? I had to know. I ordered the book.
As I read the book my stomach turned with each page. I was hooked - big time. I was instantly drawn in to Butter and his plight. I was witnessing and feeling his pain, then his joy. The book tells the story from the first person. Butter’s voice is funny and irreverent. Although I am not obese, I empathize with him. Who did not feel left out in High School? Who has not felt marginalized? Who in some way has not felt bullied? Unaccepted? Gawked at? Lonely? Even considered suicide? I know I have.
The details of Butter’s life, his struggles plus the humor give the film an authenticity that I hope will make it powerful and emotional. His story is so original and represents everything I want to say as a film maker. Making this movie can affect change. The experience I'm most trying to communicate with Butter is that of acceptance. While this film is a journey towards suicide, it’s about beginnings, change, and how deeply funny life can be in its most serious moments. I knew I had to make a choice between a darker film and one that would resonate with a teenage audience. My main goal was to get the quality of a John Hughes movie and make it comedic.
While writing the screenplay, I met Christina Sibul. She had read the book, loved it, and want to be involved. She helped along the way in developing the script. When the script was finished, rather than make it with another production company to finance the film privately, we reached out to J. Todd Harris at Branded Pictures Entertainment. Todd loved the script and decided to produce the film together with Christina. When it came to financing the movie, we reached out to the people that would be most affected by the content. This included family, friends, friends of friends, childhood dentists, old high school friends, etc. Because it was such a low budget movie, we knew that we needed additional help. We found that help with some big resources in LA, including Panavision, FotoKem, Santa Clarita Studios, and many others.
We were very lucky to find such an amazing cast. We did an international search for an actor to play Butter. We received auditions from Australia, England, and ended up finding Alex in Las Vegas after he had driven out twice for screen tests. From the moment we met him, we knew he was Butter. We put Alex with an acting coach, Myra Turley, who also happened to be the mother of our amazing casting director, Tannis Vallely. In regard to Butter as a musician, we really wanted him to have a unique sound. We looked at a lot of different options because we didn’t want him to be just another saxophone player. We found Rocco Barbato on YouTube. He was based on Vegas and had a unique tone to his music. He has a real energy, strength, and confidence to his playing. Rocco worked with Alex on teaching him how to play the sax, as well as wrote all of the saxophone compositions for the film. Everything was pre-recorded. Another interesting element is our use of prosthetics in the film. Butter weighed 430 pounds and Alex weighed 100 pounds less. We had to get him a prosthetic suit. We received a quote for $65K but could only budget $5K. Through a friend of a friend, we met with Bill Bryan. He loved the script and agreed to make the suit for a fraction of the cost.
With all of these elements in place, we were finally ready to begin production. We shot the movie in 18 days in Los Angeles. The cast and crew were amazing. Everyone got along, which made the shoot very smooth. Working with Mira Sorvino was a treat. She really designed and created the character of Marian. We spoke on the phone when she took the part and had some great ideas. In the scene where she’s showing her photograph, she came up with that the night before and shot it on her iPhone. Her dedication was very much appreciated. I personally called Mykelti Williamson to play Professor Dunn and was thrilled when he accepted. McKaley Miller, who plays Anna McGinn, came in and read with Butter for his screen test. After auditioning dozens of girls, we went with her because she shined. Jake Walker who plays the bully, Jeremy, also came in for the screen test to help out as the reader and ended up getting the role. Both were right in front of us the whole time. Brian Van Holt and Annabeth Gish were also terrific to work with. Both were very dedicated to the film and were a joy to have on set.
The script attracted a lot of people because it’s so much more than a movie. It is art meeting advocacy. Even though we are telling a story, we all want to be involved because it deals with body positivity and mental illness, while also preventing teen suicide. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and this movie had all the right parts. Everyone involved was highly aware and supportive of the message we wanted to send. As part of our advocacy, we partnered with the JED Foundation. JED exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. They have been our nonprofit partner since the completion of the script. We want to make sure we were being socially responsible while dealing with such important issues. With them, we knew we were in good hands. The JED Foundation has a secondary foundation called SeizeTheAwkward.org. It deals with teenage anxiety and how that can prevent teens from being able to discuss their problems. A lot of their online content is comedic in nature, while staying true to the overall message. We thought this overlap was very fitting for out film.
When production was finished, we began the editing process with Garry M.B. Smith. Jeff Toyne did an amazing job with the composition of the movie. The soundtrack has over 30 songs, all of which were unknown artists found on Spotify. Each were contacted directly. I also had a family member involved with the Pentatonix. They gave us a song that is found in the end credits. Another example of people loving the film and the message and wanting to get involved.
Bullying has become an epidemic. Many children are victims of sexual bullying and cyber bullying, and overweight children are especially targeted. The alarming statistics on bullying are upsetting. In a recent national survey of overweight sixth graders, 30 percent experienced daily teasing, bullying or rejection because of their size. The number doubles for overweight high school students.
We need to teach our children to be kind. To accept others how they are. To stand up for others. It starts there. To show a simple act of kindness and acceptance. This may be the ray of hope a desperate teen might need. Befriend the Butters of the world.
Butter will capture our hearts. His story will capture our minds. It’s an important story to tell with a powerful message.
And let’s not forget to sit back and enjoy a really good film.
PAUL A. KAUFMAN, Director
Paul A. Kaufman was born in London, England. He is an accomplished Emmy Award winning director and producer. Kaufman made his directorial debut on his long-cherished project, “Run the Wil Fields” for Showtime, which earned numerous critical honors, including an Emmy Award for Best Director. The movie stars Joanne Whalley, Sean Patrick Flanery, and Alexa Vega. Paul has had overall producing deals at Warner Brothers/HBO, Artisan, Alliance Atlantis and Fox Television Studios and has produced 23 movies and is also a director of a television series. He recently finished directing “Ransom” for CBS which is Frank Spotnitz’s (“Man in the High Castle” “X-Files”) new series. He is a regular director on the top-rated CBS television series, “NCIS: Los Angeles” and “Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders” Starring Academy Award Winner, Gary Sinise. He is also a regular director on the critically acclaimed series “Rogue” which stars Cole Hauser and Thandie Newton. Other series he has directed include, “The Mentalist”, “Grimm”, and “The Bridge”. Kaufman was honored with a Directors Guild of Canada nomination for Best Director for his highly acclaimed television movie, “Magic Beyond Words: The JK Rowling Story”. It stars Poppy Montgomery in the title role, based on the woman who wrote Harry Potter. The movie which Kaufman also produced, won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Television Movie or Miniseries. He won an NAACP Award for Best TV Movie or Miniseries for the critically acclaimed movie he produced and directed, “Sins of the Mother” starring Jill Scott and Nicole Behari. He also directed the Imagen Award winning movie “Little Girl Lost: The Delimar Vera Story”. Kaufman also produced the highly acclaimed movie, “Jewel”, which starred Farrah Fawcett and Cicely Tyson. The movie was nominated for the Humanitas Award. He served two terms on the Board of Governors at The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences where he supervised and oversaw the awards show and telecast. He also served on the Television Committee at BAFTA and been a guest speaker at AFI, UCLA, USC, and other colleges. He is a member of The Directors Guild of America, BAFTA, The Writers Guild of America, The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, The Directors Guild of Canada, and The Producers Gold of America. He is a citizen of The United Kingdom, The United States, and Canada.
J. TODD HARRIS, Producer J. Todd Harris is founder and CEO of Branded Pictures Entertainment based in Los Angeles. He has been a producer or executive producer nearly 50 features films, including The Kids Are All Right and Bottle Shock. Most recently he was an executive producer on Aaron Sorkin's The Trial of the Chicago 7 and 12 Mighty Orphans. For the stage, he produced Heathers The Musical, Doctor Zhivago and American Psycho. He's currently developing Soul Train, The Buena Vista Social Club, Death at a Funeral and a show based on the life and work of Maya Angelou. He's a founding board member of the Napa Valley Film Festival and a 20-year member of the Motion Picture Academy. He joined the Broadway League in 2015 and Producers Guild in 2016. Originally from New York, he has a BA and MBA from Stanford University.
CHRISTINA SIBUL, Producer Christina Sibul is an independent producer who’s had the pleasure of working with many of the industry’s top filmmakers, including Tom McCarthy, Alexander Payne, Catherine Hardwicke and alongside some of the industry's most notable producers. As a career development and production executive and industry consultant, she has been a part of or overseen close to 40 films, and her films have been richly recognized on the awards circuit. Credits include THIRTEEN, SIDEWAYS, HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG, 40 DAYS AND 40 NIGHTS, THE GURU, THE STATION AGENT, THE VISITOR, WIN WIN, TRAFFICK and LORDS OF DOGTOWN among many others. Christina is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama.
GREG GARDINER, Director of Photography Greg Gardiner has worked on a diverse range of projects, including the motion pictures “The Best Man Holiday,” with director Malcolm D. Lee, Chris Ashley’s Independent musical “Lucky Stiff,” and director Nick Hamm’s Venice Film festival drama “The Journey” with Colm Meany and Timothy Spall. His filmmaker’s touch with slice of life comedies is vast including – “Orange County,” “Men In Black II,” “Elf,” “She’s The Man,” “The War with Grandpa,” “Girl’s Trip,” and now “Night School.” He just wrapped another great Will Packer film - the family magical comedy “Little.” Greg began his filmmaking career in the lighting department, working as a gaffer on such seminal films as “Paris Texas,” “Repo Man,” and “To Live and Die in LA.” He earned the Cinematography Award at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival and a nomination for Best Cinematography at the 1995 Independent Spirit Awards for the Black and White filmed “Suture.”
DENISE HUDSON, Production Designer Prior to BUTTER’S LAST MEAL, Denise Hudson has designed and art directed notable films and shows including The Kominsky Method, Room 104, American Horror Story-Hotel, Fetish, Pie, Unstoppable, The Perfect Game, Shelter, Quinceañera, (winner of Sundance Audience & Grand Jury Prize), Blue Crush, Austin Powers and 61*. She has been nominated for two Emmys and received an award from the Art Director’s Guild. Denise is an adjunct professor at UCLA’s theater and film program. She has worked on location around the world including New Zealand, Abu Dhabi/Dubai, Germany, France, The Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Scotland & all over the US. Denise earned a Master's Degree for Theater Design at Yale University, studied haute couture fashion at Syndical de la Couture Parisienne and pre-law at UC Berkeley.
MIRA SORVINO, Marian
Academy Award™-winning actress Mira Sorvino portrays Marian, (which is also the name of Kaufman’s mother).
Mira Sorvino was born in Manhattan, the daughter of Lorraine Davis, an actress turned drama therapist, and veteran character actor Paul Sorvino. Her father discouraged her from becoming an actor, as he knew how the industry often chews up young stars. She attended Harvard, majoring in Chinese, graduating magna cum laude. However, she showed interest in a career in acting from an early age, and moved to New York City to try her hand in the Big Apple’s film industry, waitressing, auditioning and working at the Tribeca production company of Robert De Niro. She succeeded in getting a little television work in the early 1990s, but got her first film job in the independent gangster movie Amongst Friends, on which she worked her way up the ladder behind the camera to eventually associate-produce the film, and, more importantly, was eventually cast as the female lead. The indie production was well-received, and Sorvino's performance attracted enough buzz to get her cast in two more movies, one a more prominent indie, Barcelona, the other, her first Hollywood feature, Quiz Show.
An exceptionally poised and articulate young woman, she may have seemed inappropriate to play a crazy hooker, but Woody Allen took the chance, and her magnificent performance as the female lead in his Mighty Aphrodite proved her range as a performer and earned her an Oscar™ for Best Supporting Actress. Other roles have included Mimic, The Replacement Killers, Romy and Michele's High School Reunion and she can be seen in the MGM series “Condor” and in the upcoming film Stuber for 20th Century Fox, as well as in season three of the Crackle series, “StartUp.” She most recently starred alongside AnnaSophia Robb in the Quibi pilot, EMMA.
MYKELTI WILLIAMSON - Professor Dunn
Perhaps best remembered for his touching performance as "Bubba" opposite Tom Hanks in the Academy Award™-winning Forrest Gump, Mykelti Williamson is one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood, who has been steadily honing his craft since he first began acting professionally at the age of 18.
At the age of 15, Williamson and his family settled in Los Angeles.
Following high school graduation, Williamson began acting professionally, making appearances on television shows such as “Starsky and Hutch,” “Hill Street Blues” and “China Beach,” among others. He made his film debut in the Walter Hill-directed feature Streets of Fire opposite Diane Lane, Michael Paré and Willem Dafoe.
Following his critically acclaimed performance in Forrest Gump, Williamson starred in Forest Whitaker's Waiting to Exhale; partnered with Al Pacino in Michael Mann's Heat, and starred alongside Nicolas Cage in Con Air.
Williamson was also seen in Mike Nichols' political drama Primary Colors and Three Kings, opposite George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube, and Fences starring and directed by Denzel Washington.
Upcoming features include Relive with David Oyelowo, Emperor with Kat Graham, and Run the Race with Frances Fisher. Williamson has had recurring roles on “CSI: NY,” “24,” “Justified,” “Nashville,” and “Chicago P.D.”
BRIAN VAN HOLT, Frank
Van Holt portrays Frank, Butter’s disapproving father. Brian Van Holt was born in Waukegan, Illinois. He graduated from UCLA with a degree in Sociology.
He was cast in several films and television series beginning with “A Very Brady Sequel,” followed by appearances in episodes of “Beverly Hills, 90210,” “Spin City,” “Homicide: Life on the Street,” “Martial Law,” and “Sex and the City.” He then hit his stride in a string of A-list films beginning with Black Hawk Down and Windtalkers, interspersed with Confidence, and continuing with Basic and S.W.A.T.
He has since appeared in Man of the House, House of Wax, and revisited his surfer roots when he was cast in David Milch's HBO series “John from Cincinnati” as Butchie Yost, son of surfing legend Mitch Yost. He also played Kyle Hobart in the FX series “Sons of Anarchy.” He can currently be seen starring in the Fox series, Deputy.
ANNABETH GISH, Dr. Jennice
A versatile actress, Annabeth Gish weathered the transition from child actor to adult, with a variety of dramatic and comedic roles on film and television.
Gish began her professional acting career at the age of eight, by appearing in a number of commercials. She made her screen debut at 13 in the teen film Desert Bloom, opposite Jon Voight, She’s starred in the films Hiding Out, with Jon Cryer, Mystic Pizza, with Julia Roberts, and Shag, opposite Phoebe Cates and Bridget Fonda. She also played the lead role in the TV movie, “When He's Not a Stranger.”
In addition to acting, Gish took time to focus on her academic career and attended Duke University. Studying English as well as theater, she graduated with honors with a BA in English.
She returned to the screen in the mid 90’s with appearances in Wyatt Earp, The Last Supper and the biopic Nixon. Gish appeared in the ensemble cast movie Beautiful Girls.
On television, Gish played "Special Agent Monica Reyes" on the cult series, “The X-Files,” for which she was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress. She appeared in the Netflix hit series “The Haunting of Hill House,” and stars in the upcoming McG-directed sci-fi adventure Rim of the World. Other credits including “Halt and Catch Fire,” recurring roles on “The West Wing,” “Pretty Little Liars,” and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.” She is currently filming the Netflix series, Midnight Mass, which will be out next year.
ALEX KERSTING, Butter
BUTTER is Kersting’s first feature film starring role in which he was selected from an international casting search.
Raised in Knoxville, Tennessee, Alex currently lives in Las Vegas. His younger brother was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, so Alex has been very passionate about helping all those with disabilities.
Alex's father Jay is a former radio talk show host, and together they do a YouTube series called "Ordinary Average Guys.” The series is recorded while they drive around the Las Vegas metro area discussing various topics ranging from news, social media, reality television, celebrity stuff, and whatever comes up as they drive around and see the sights in their adopted hometown.
He has appeared in several Las Vegas theater productions and has been involved in the Las Vegas Fringe Festival for a number of years.
McKALEY MILLER, Anna
McKaley Miller is most known for her roles in CW's “Hart of Dixie,” FOX's “Scream Queens,” and FX's “Partners,” starring Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence. Miller also starred in the feature film The Iceman with Winona Ryder, Michael Shannon, Chris Evans and Ray Liotta. She starred the Blumhouse feature film MA alongside Octavia Spencer.
RAVEL PATEL, Dr. Bean
Patel adds humor to the story as the quirky Dr. Bean, offering Butter lighthearted advice while trying to show the troubled teen that life can be fun if we let it be.
Ravi Patel was born in Freeport, Illinois. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with majors in Economics and International Studies.
Having been cast in pilots for most of his acting career, Ravi has appeared on numerous popular shows including “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” “Scrubs,” “Hawaii 5-O,” and Grey’s Anatomy.”
Ravi, along with his sister Geeta, wrote and directed the successful indie film Meet the Patels. Other film appearances have included the Sundance hit Band Aid, opposite Zoe Lister-Jones and Adam Pally, and the upcoming indie films Emmett starring Rita Wilson and Miles Brown; and Come as You Are, opposite Gabourey Sidibe, Hayden Szeto, and Janeane Garofalo.
Ravi recurred on the ABC hit comedy “American Housewife;” the critically-acclaimed Netflix series “Master of None; and the TBS comedy series “Wrecked.” He was a series regular on the FOX show, “Grandfathered, opposite John Stamos and Josh Peck.
Ravi will next be seen on the big screen in the Lionsgate feature Flarsky, opposite Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen; and WB/DC Entertainment's Wonder Woman 1984.
Ravi founded the hugely successful poker magazine “All In,” and is the Co-Founder of This Bar Saves Lives with actors Ryan Devlin, Todd Grinnell and Kristen Bell.
JACK GRIFFO, Parker
Jack is a Nickelodeon star with over 3.5 million Instagram followers. He recently wrapped Nickelodeon's hit show, ”THE THUNDERMANS”, where he starred as antagonist-turned-anti-hero Max Thunderman. The superhero live action comedy filmed over 100 episodes and has a massive teen following. Currently, Jack can be seen in the new Netflix teen comedy "ALEXA AND KATIE,” alongside his real-life girlfriend Paris Berlec.
PAUL A. KAUFMAN - See Director’s statement above.
J. TODD HARRIS
“When Paul first introduced me to this movie, he said it was 'noisy' and he was right. Watching him adapt this powerful book and will this movie into existence was inspirational for me - and I've worked on a lot of independent features. The care, the attention to detail, the focus on the overall message - all of the highest caliber. I'm honored to be a part of this movie and proud to have helped Paul realize it. It's a film everyone in high school (or who has ever been to high school) should see."
“I was attracted to the story because I love working on young adult material in terms of their stories. Our lead character learns deeply about himself and how to be authentic and honest. Hopefully, this film can start a conversation where we can talk about childhood obesity, suicide, bullying and other issues. One of the major components to this story is that the bullying starts to look a lot like cheerleading, except cheering him on is leading him to a negative end. We started our schedule with most of the adult, seasoned actors working first and it’s been amazing to watch Mira Sorvino bringing life and humor to her character, even though the subject matter is dark. She brings depth to the story, range, intelligence, life and humor. Mira has such an empathetic take on the character, and I can see her thought processes working on her character’s journey. It’s been lovely to see Alex work with these talented pros and it has greatly benefited our production and enhanced his performance. The character of Butter is very similar to what Alex went through in high school, where most people didn’t get to see the real Alex. He’s warm, open and engaging. Alex has a real vulnerability, but he also a very funny person who now in his early ‘20s has a great sense of who he is. We live in a much harder dog eat dog world, because kids are visually out there on social media. I believe that we’re having a positive dialogue going on out there but we still have a long way to go.”
ERIN JADE LANGE
"I came up with the idea of writing BUTTER when I was working in TV news at the time, covering almost daily stories about teen suicide, internet bullying and childhood obesity. These stories took root in the back of my mind until they exploded out into this story."
"I was thrilled when Paul first contacted me about making a movie about the book but also disappointed because, at the time, the book was already optioned for film. I wanted to work with Paul instead, but I didn't think he would be willing to wait a year on the option. It was amazing when he followed up a year later, still excited about the story!"
"I never even imagined that one of my books would become a movie. Being a published author has been my dream come true, and seehe ding my first story made into a movie is really just bigger than I ever dared to dream."
"What an amazing experience it was to visit the set! The moment I turned the corner to the courtyard where filming was underway will be forever frozen in my memory. It took my breath away to see all of the cast and crew, the set, the equipment. Writing a book is such a solitary thing. Seeing how many people it takes to bring that story to the screen is humbling."
"I thought actors accurately represented the way I wrote the characters. It is so well cast. Everyone fits their roles just as I imagined, but the actors also brought new things to the characters that I love. It's like watching the characters I wrote, except amplified and made even more complex."
"I am so grateful to Paul for consulting with me as he worked on the script. Many authors sign away their books with no assurance of how those stories will be translated. Paul was very generous in letting me be part of the process. I trusted him to make the changes necessary for the screen, and he added some moments that I now wish were in the book! Above all, it was amazing to put Butter in the hands of someone else who loves this story and "gets" these characters."
"The movie didn't feel low-budget to me! From the professionalism I saw on set to the amazing final product on the screen, nothing about this movies seemed like it was made on the cheap. I think when something is made with HEART, that has a greater impact on the end result than how much it cost."
“Marian believes that to keep Butter’s love, she needs to give him whatever he wants, which includes feeding him constantly whatever he wants.”
“I cried when I first read the script. It was so beautiful and poignant, but sad, because it’s about human pain and suicide. But, on a lighter note, it’s also funny. It’s a slice of life on being a teenager today. Part of Marian’s problem is she is an enabler who creates all sorts of wacky food art which she serves to him. In that aspect, to her, food is love, and in my real family that was always the case. That’s how a lot of families expressed their love in order to make everyone happy. But Butter does have this issue with weight and she’s really not helping him.”
“As a mother, I have teenaged daughters who sometimes make me feel like I’m an outsider, and I’m often feeling that I’m growing away from them. As the film progresses, she realizes that she’s not helping her son and she’s trying desperately to fix it. Marian is a little daft and she wants to be the perfect mother. But as time goes on, she’s able to admit some things to Butter and her husband and is working very hard to make things right.”
“This movie confronts so many topical issues. I don’t think phones and computers have made anyone any happier. There’s a lot of anonymous hate out there and these folks would not be that ruthless right to your face. It’s so easy to write something mean and then move on to the next tweet or text. We really have to reach out to people who need help and I hope this movie tells these people that they are unique, and there are a lot of ways to climb out of depression. You are never alone and there is community out there to help.”
“I’ve worked with Paul before and he pitched me the story, then sent me the script and two hours later I said I’m in. The story grabbed me immediately and would not let my heart go. I actually feel privileged to be a cast member. Butter absolutely ranks among the most important projects I’ve done.”
“I think Dunn is the most empathetic character in the film in regard to Butter. He understands that everyone has value, everyone is someone’s child. He believes in Butter and his future, and does everything in his power to help this young man navigate this tough terrain.”
“I’m a people person. Years ago, I came to fully understand the intrinsic value of using one’s own life experiences to elevate the lives of others. I saw that same quality in the Professor Dunn character.”
“I have not been in a movie like this since ‘Forrest Gump.’ Butter is a different person’s journey, but it will land on you in many ways that ‘Gump’ did, and it will be a shame if people don’t go see it.”
“I’m a longtime Mira fan because she’s that rare and unique balance of classis movie star meets girl next door. I found Alex’s creativity a breath of fresh air…and boy was it fun to watch him navigate Butter’s journey so beautifully.”
BRIAN VAN HOLT
“Reading the script brought up a lot of anger in me, triggering issues I had as teenager battling anxiety and fear. It elicited many emotions in me.”
“Butter and Frank’s relationship is very strained. To him, Butter is a big disappointment because he’s not a mini-Frank. Once a rising football player, Frank suffered a concussion, which caused him to be blind in one eye, making him bitter and struggling with his own fears. He has a hard time relating to Butter and disconnects from his son’s life, and it’s very sad. I think that this story is about consequences and how your actions affect you and everyone around you and at times it’s painful to watch.”
“There’s a saying ‘pain is the cornerstone of change’ and this is something within him that forces Frank to wake up and be a father.”
“I had an emotional, visceral reaction to the script and I just couldn’t say no. I have two sons, so I’m aware of bullying and cyberbullying and I know how important it is to counteract these problems. It’s so crucial to be mentally healthy. It’s imperative to find kindness as parents, friends, and co-workers.”
“The first time I read the script wasn’t until after I’d already read the book. Erin just poured her heart out into Butter and you couldn’t help but feel all those really strong gutsy emotions hearing his side of the story and how he was dealing with everything. Paul managed to get everything into that script… You can’t help but have a visceral reaction to this type of story. I was literally in tears shooting a couple of the scenes let alone reading it. There’s so much emotion in this entire story. “
“I wasn’t completely sure I could handle the challenge of this complex character, since I’ve never done anything quite like this before. But the initial meeting with Paul by Skype changed my mind and it brought out the fact that there are a lot of similarities between Butter and myself.”
“Butter has all these issues, but he has to be true to himself, so his family and friends can be true to him. I think that this story is about consequences and how your actions affect you and everyone around you. I have gone through depression myself, so I know how dark things can get.”
“Working with Mira, Mykelti and the rest of the seasoned ‘adults’ has been such an amazing learning experience for me. It has been magical for me just being in the same room with them.”
“Anyone who has ever had to deal with any issues in high school is going to see themselves in Butter. Anyone who has ever been online (and that’s pretty much everyone) must make a point to see this film.”
“Anna is sort of the girl next door, but still in the popular crowd - she has the best of both worlds. She also has a tendency to sometimes fall into the wrong crowd. She’s a caring person and she takes to Butter in ways she wouldn’t expect.”
“My character is relatable to me and I think will be to the audience, because she is like every other girl who is trying to find her place. She meets JP (Butter) online and feels him emotionally, although she doesn’t know what he looks like. But Butter is catfishing her, so he is basically doing something similar to the bullying he’s getting at school. Anna has fallen into a trap that Butter has set for her.”
“This story offers so many issues that audiences can take something away from. I would love to see a change in the way that we treat people. We kind of popularize morbid, dark things and I wonder, why do we do it? Everyone has a little part of sadness inside of them. BUTTER is dark at times, but I hope that people will become more empathetic and see where people are at different stages in their life before jumping to conclusions.”
ABOUT THE BOOK AND AUTHOR
ERIN JADE LANGE, Author
Erin Jade Lange is the award-winning author of contemporary young adult novels, Butter, Dead Ends, and Rebel Bully Geek Pariah. She is the winner of the Friedolin Youth Book Prize in Germany and the Sakura Medal in Japan. She has also been nominated for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize (twice), the German Children’s Literature Award and multiple state book awards. Her debut novel was a 2013 Teens’ Top Ten Pick, and her books have appeared on several state reading lists. As a former journalist, Erin is inspired by current events and real-world issues and uses her writing to explore how those issues impact teenagers. She is an only child, so she spent a lot of time entertaining herself as a kid. This required her to rely heavily on her own imagination, which is probably why she became a writer. Erin grew up in the cornfields of northern Illinois, along the Mississippi River in one of the few places it flows east to west. She now lives in the sunshine of Arizona and will forever be torn between her love of rivers and her love of the desert.
BOOK AWARDS • 2016 Abraham Lincoln Masterlist
• 2016 Nevada Young Readers Award nominee
• 2015-2016 Iowa High School Book Award nominee
• 2015 Sakura Medal winner
• 2015 High School Sequoyah Masterlist
• Waterstones Children’s Book Prize nominee 2014
• 2014-2015 South Carolina Young Adult Book Award nominee
• 2014 Blue Hen Book Award nominee
• 2014 TAYSHAS List
• 2013 Teens’ Top Ten Pick
SELECT BOOK REVIEWS “Using current, hot-button topics–cyberbullying, obesity, and teen suicide the author weaves a compelling tale sure to draw teens in.” – School Library Journal STARRED Review
“Dark, funny, painful, and powerful.” – Publishers Weekly
“Butter is a darkly humorous tale of bullying, obesity and the craving for popularity in the Internet age. Of course, we live in an age of childhood obesity, teen suicide and Internet Bullying. But Butter isn't about being fat, it's a dark and humorous tale about being a target, and that experience may be more universal than any of us may want to acknowledge.” – The Telegraph
“It is exciting, funny and intriguing, as well as deep and enlightening. Making you think about obesity, the different forms of bullying and suicide, Butter stays with you long after you've finished reading it.” – The Guardian
“A strong and gutsy debut.” – Booklist
“Thought provoking.” – Kirkus Reviews
“When does an Internet dare go too far? Erin Jade Lange tackles a timely topic with a hefty dose of in-your-face intensity, tempered by the droll sense of humor from an unexpectedly fierce narrator. Butter’s voice is loud, funny and unapologetic. I cared deeply for him and found myself rooting for him to find a way out of the mess he’d made.” – Daisy Whitney, author of THE MOCKINGBIRDS
“A clever, tender and emotional page-turner! Butter’s sharp and witty narrative had me laughing out loud on one page and broke my heart just as easily on the next. Debut author Erin Jade Lange proves she knows how to tell a story and this is one I won’t be forgetting any time soon.” – Courtney Summers, author of SOME GIRLS ARE
BUTTER’S ARMY, Our Outreach Butter’s Army is an army of people and non-profit organizations from around the country with the commonality of bringing awareness and education for anti-bullying, suicide prevention, body shaming and mental illness. More info HERE
“We are working with the Jed Foundation, which is one of the leading non-profits in teen mental wellness and the prevention of suicide with college aged students. They gave us advice on vetting our script and gave us great feedback. In addition to the Jed Foundation, we received great support from The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention in terms of making sure that we were dispensing a responsible media message.” - CHRISTINA SIBUL
THE JED FOUNDATION, Partner Jed is a nonprofit that exists to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. We’re partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance abuse and suicide prevention programs and systems. We’re equipping teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge to help themselves and each other. We’re encouraging community awareness, understanding and action for young adult mental health. JED is also partners with "Dear Even Hansen". More info HERE
SEIZE THE AWKWARD, Partner Seize the Awkward focuses on the idea that it may feel a little difficult or awkward to speak to your friend about your concerns about them, but that if you accept the awkward feeling as natural, you can move past the awkwardness and start a helpful/meaningful conversation. Since its launch, the Seize the Awkward campaign has garnered over 7.5 million video views and over 87,000 sessions on their website. With exposure via posters, a series of excellent videos featuring prominent YouTube influencers, and a whole group of exciting new partnerships rolling out throughout September for Suicide Prevention Month, the campaign is finding new ways to bring people closer to talking to their friends about mental health. More info HERE
BULLYING STATS (E3SF.org)
Bullying is the second leading cause of death for students under 18
500,000 yearly suicide attempts by students
5,300 youth suicides annually
There are 1.2 million annual high school dropouts due to bullying
The percentages of individuals who have experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lifetimes have nearly doubled (18% to 34%) from 2007-2016
64% of bullying is not reported
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