On June 14 The Recording Academy Los Angeles Chapter held a private members-only screening of Rock Of Ages, the film adaptation of the hit musical of the same name that opens in theaters across the United States today. Prior to the screening, film director Adam Shankman took part in an exclusive interview with GRAMMY.com and discussed the making of Rock Of Ages, his career influences, why he thinks music exists, and directing techniques, among other topics.
"It's a love letter to a time [when] I was a very young adult," says Shankman. "I remember that all I used to think about back then was [how] I had no responsibilities. … I was just there to have fun. And that's what I set out to do [with Rock Of Ages] … create [a] movie that was just a great time … and leave the audience with this great feeling of joy."
Rock Of Ages stars Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Mary J. Blige, Russell Brand, dancer/actress Julianne Hough, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, among others. The film tells the story of a small-town girl, Sherrie (Hough), and city boy, Drew (Diego Boneta), who meet in Hollywood, Calif., while pursuing their dreams on the famed Sunset Strip. The film's soundtrack, which was executive produced by Adam Anders and Peer Astrom ("Glee"), features classic rock hits by Def Leppard, Foreigner, Journey, Poison, REO Speedwagon, and Twisted Sister, among others performed by the movie's stars.
With music being a large part of the film, Shankman says, for him, music exists as a "bubble." "We are born to sing, we are born to create rhythm [and] we are born to dance," he says. "It's just our other language."
A native of Los Angeles, Shankman developed a love for theater at an early age. After graduating from high school, he moved to New York where he attended the Juilliard School. He subsequently became one of the entertainment industry's premier choreographers, working with artists ranging from the B-52's and Aaron Neville to Whitney Houston and Stevie Wonder. In 2009 he served as co-producer and lead choreographer for the 82nd Annual Academy Awards.
Shankman made his major studio directorial debut in 2001 with The Wedding Planner. He subsequently directed A Walk To Remember (2002), Bringing Down The House (2003), The Pacifier and Cheaper By The Dozen 2 (2005), and Bedtime Stories (2008). In 2007 he directed and executive produced Hairspray, the film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Broadway Musical, itself an adaptation of John Waters' 1988 original.. The film received three Golden Globe Awards nominations, including Best Motion Picture — Comedy or Musical.
Additionally, Shankman runs the production firm Offspring Entertainment with his sister, Jennifer Gibgot, with whom he's produced other films such as 17 Again, the Step Up series and Going The Distance. Upcoming producing projects include Tink, which is due in 2013. Shankman also currently serves as a judge on the TV reality show "So You Think You Can Dance."