Quiet, The (2006): Jamie Babbit’s Second Feature (after Disappointing Debut, But I’m Cheerleader)

Jamie Babbit’s second film, “The Quiet,” is about family secrets, friendship, trust and betrayal.

Popular cheerleader Nina Deers (Elisha Cuthbert) seemingly unblemished suburban world is turned upside down when her parents (Edie Falco and Martin Donovan) adopt their recently orphaned goddaughter Dot (Camilla Belle).

Dots arrival delivers a blow to Ninas idyllic social life and triggers the unraveling of the familys darkest secrets. Both Ninas family and friends, including the school hunk Connor (Shawn Ashmore of “X-Men trilogy”), develop an odd fascination with Dot and confide in her their troubling secrets. Dot quietly shoulders the burdens and secrets of those around her, while continuing to hold what is perhaps the biggest secret her own.

Through Ninas eyes, Babbit takes us on an emotional rollercoaster ride through the hilarious and often crude interactions of high schools students and a family where happy faces disguise ugly truths.

“The Quiet” unmasks the idyllic suburban life of the Deer family in their quiet Connecticut town. Dots arrival brings to light the disturbing secrets simmering just beneath the image of a perfect family. Dot and Nina learn to rely on each other as they dare to break the silence that binds them both.

When director Babbit read the script for “the Quiet,” she was attracted to the perversity, comedy, and seriousness of the story. It deals with issues not normally portrayed in film, but are prevalent in society, says Babbit. Babbits expertise in filmmaking and background in television helped to guide the cast and crew of “The Quiet” through the production process.
Writers Abdi Nazemian and Micah Schraft stayed on location in Austin for the duration of the shoot where they gave feedback and opinions, and helped the atmosphere on set stay light.

Being on the set each day, we saw how much Jamie cares about ever detail, said Nazemian. To see other people so committed to the movie that we wrote was amazing. During the production of the modestly budgeted film, the filmmakers found themselves challenged creatively to make the most of every dollar.

The movie was shot in high-definition (HD). “HD is very crisp, and magnifies every flaw,” Babbit explains. “To overcome that, our director of photography, David Mullen, often blurred the scenes with smoke. Despite this, shooting in HD offers certain benefits. Because HD stock is so inexpensive, we were able to keep it running instead of constantly cutting, which throws the actors off-kilter.”

“The Quiet” sensitive issues called for a talented ensemble of actors. The casts ability to portray the humanity of each character was essential to the success of the film. Coming off her performance in “The Girl Next Door” and “House of Wax,” Elisha Cuthbert wanted to play a character unlike any she had previously portrayed. Nina, my character, deals with deep anger from something specific, but she cant cope with it alone any longer, says Cuthbert. Nina copes by unloading her secrets onto Dot.

Camilla Belle, recently seen in “The Ballad of Jack and Rose,” with Daniel Day-Lewis and “Chumscrubber,” plays Dot who reveals herself with an intensity that forgoes words as the unraveling of the Deer family begins.
Babbit carefully cast the role of Paul Deer, contemplating the personal anguish of the character. After intense and thorough discussions of the direction in which Babbit wanted to take the character, Donovan agreed to the project.

Olivia Deer, played by Edie Falco, uses distractions to divert her attention from her failed marriage. Her dependency on prescription drugs impedes her from fulfilling her aspirations as an interior designer and numbs her from the pain of family life. Falcos time on set was intense; she had only a small window of time to shoot her scenes. Babbit wasnt worried. Because of her talent and ability, I was confident Edie could pull it off in eight days.

“The Quiet” is the product of collaboration between Burnt Orange Productions and the University of Texas Film Institute. The partnership between Burnt Orange Productions and The University of Texas Film Institute provides students with the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals on independent feature films, while gaining specialized hands-on experience in all aspects of filmmaking.

Carolyn Pfeiffer, president and CEO of Burnt Orange Productions,
along with executive producer Tom Schatz, executive director of the University of Texas Film Institute, had an ambitious vision in mind when they launched the Burnt Orange Productions and University of Texas Film Institute alliance.

For Schatz and Pfeiffer, “The Quiet” is a big step toward the realization of films produced in part with university students. For most of the students hired on the production, “The Quiet” was their first time to set foot on a feature set, and they immersed themselves in the production process. Its not about the money or fame for these students. Its about the passion to make a great film, says Martin Donovan. The University of Texas interns left with an experience they will not soon forget. The knowledge that I gained could never have been obtained from any classroom setting or other strictly academic situation. The benefits from the experience have been substantial, and I am thrilled to have been a part of this film, explains production consultant and intern William Goodman. I would highly recommend this experience to any student with aspirations to work in the film industry.

Jamie Babbit’s Career

“The Quiet” is Jamie Babbits second feature, following the disappointing satire, “But I’m a Cheerleader.”

Previously, Babbit directed several shorts, including “Stuck” and “Sleeping Beauties and Frog Crossings,” both shown at the 2002 Sundance Film Fest.

Babbit also has worked as TV producer, the WB television series, “Popular,” as well as episodes of such shows as “Nip/Tuck” and “Gilmore Girls.”

She began as a script supervisor, working on more than 10 films for directors like David Fincher, Su Freidrich, Nancy Savoca, and Alex Sichel. Babbit graduated from Barnard College of Columbia University in 1993.