Q&A: Jason Moore, Northwestern alum and ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ executive producer

Annie Bruce, A&E Editor


Using his experiences with the Radio, Television and Film and musical theater programs at Northwestern, Jason Moore (Communication ’93) has navigated roles ranging from Tony-nominated director of “Avenue Q” to director of the wildly successful film “Pitch Perfect.” He now returns as an executive producer for “Pitch Perfect 2,” which opened in theaters Friday. The Daily talked with Moore about the sequel, his experiences at Northwestern and his upcoming project with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.

What made the experience of making “Pitch Perfect 2” different from the original?

Well, I directed the first one and didn’t direct the second one. That was probably the most significant difference. … It was kind of fun to sit back and watch something that I’ve worked on have it’s own life. (Director Elizabeth Banks) really understood the tone as well as anybody, if not better, because she found the original book and had the original idea to do the movie. So it was really fun to watch her find her directing voice and also really learn about doing musical numbers.

How does the producing role differ from the directing role?

It’s a lot less stressful, in the sense that the director really does have to make a thousand decisions a day, you hope decisions that you make accumulate into something that works. … When you’re a producer, it’s kind of relaxing, because you don’t have to make the final decision.

Do you have a favorite part in the process?

One of my favorite parts, but the most challenging part is we have an original song that is featured in the plot of the movie, so it’s always tricky trying to find an original song that works. And I was a big part of that process, and it was really fun. I’d never done that before, worked with a recording artist and gotten a song to a place where it worked for a movie. So I’m very proud of that, mostly just because it was a new experience for me, and also I think it works well in the story.

How did your experiences at Northwestern shape your directing and producing style?

At Northwestern, I was a RTVF major, theater major, formal studies major, writing major and I was also in the music theater program, so I learned a little bit about a lot of different things. And that’s really what directing is. It really was an incredible, liberal arts point of view on that. I felt like I understood literature and I understood good storytelling and it wasn’t just practical filmmaking — although it was partially that — it was a wider view of storytelling. And I feel like I went to the perfect place for that.

Do you have any advice for students who are aspiring filmmakers?

Make them as much as you can. And remember that finding your own voice is more important than trying to become someone else’s, because you always lose your way when you do that.

Do you have a standout experience from your time at Northwestern?

There was a play that I directed for Arts Alliance, the student winter play, and it was the first I’d ever — I’m not a good writer — but I wrote it with somebody else. And it was the first time that something I’d actually created got a laugh. I always think that, that was the time that I got infected with the need to hear laughs.

You’re also directing the upcoming Tina Fey and Amy Poehler “Sisters” movie. What are you excited for people to see?

I’m excited for people to see Tina and Amy together, because they’re great together. What you think and hope they are like on the Golden Globes and as friends, they are that. So just seeing them onscreen is still a joy for me. And you’ll see them do some things that you might not expect, based on what people know them and what they’ve done before. I think that’ll be fun for audiences to discover.

Can you talk a little bit about the directing process for “Sisters”?

All the actors are at Tina and Amy’s age level. There’s sort of a whole different bag of tricks, or not tricks really, working with bonafide, experienced adults that made it actually really quite smooth, mostly because everyone kind of knows what they bring to the table, and they know how the day goes. … And there was a lot of improvisation, because that’s what they do naturally.

What is coming up next for you?

I just finished that movie and we put this one in the can about eight weeks ago, so I’m going on a meditation retreat. … Beyond that I haven’t chosen my next project yet.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @anniefb13