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Teen Actors are Standing Up to Bullying

Aug 15, 2013

By Lynn Barker

In the very tween and teen-relatable film Standing Up, based upon the popular YA novel “Goat Island”, it’s the early 1980’s and summer campers Howie (Chandler Canterbury) and Grace (Annalise Basso) are separately stripped and left in the woods on an isolated island. Seems this is an evil tradition among the “popular” campers but nobody, including the young victims, was ready for just how resourceful and tough, smart and nerdy kids can be when they are bullied. Tweens Grace and Howie meet, bond and go on the adventure of their lives!

Off on a scary but fun adventureOff on a scary but fun adventure

Chandler played young Benjamin Button in that Brad Pitt movie and was just seen as Saoirse Ronan’s kid brother in the film version of the Stephenie Meyer novel “The Host”. He makes his home in Texas, is about to go back to school and talked to us via phone from there.

Annalise was in a ton of popular TV shows and is now calling Kidzworld from Atlanta, Georgia where she is in a new TV series called “The Red Road” on the Sundance Channel. They start shooting on the 26th. Check out what the teens had to say about their early movie experience.   

Where do we go next?Where do we go next?

Kidzworld: Were you guys like 12 when you made the film? What did you notice when you saw it for the first time?

  • Annalise: I think I was 12. I’ve only seen it once so it was exciting and overwhelming to see yourself on (the big) screen in a movie you are the lead in. I will see it again at the premiere.
  • Chandler: Yeah, I was about 12. As I was watching the movie, not too long ago, I realized that my voice was a lot higher. “Who’s that little girl?” (we laugh)

Tween Grace (Annalise Basso) dreams about fun at campTween Grace (Annalise Basso) dreams about fun at camp

Kidzworld: Have you ever been to camp and, if so, anybody pull pranks?

  • Chandler: Yeah, I go every year to a church camp and we do camp stuff. No hazing (bullying) at church camp though.
  • Annalise: I haven’t been to a sleep-away camp but I did go on an 8th grade end-of-the-year treat where we had a class bonfire and everyone told ghost stories. Our Dean freaked us out so bad! He told us about this guy who was bullied when he was a kid and said he was still in the woods and seeking revenge by putting dead animals on doorsteps and tapping on the windows. Last year they did that (tap on the windows) to the boys but not to us this year.

Alone in the woodsAlone in the woods

Kidzworld: Kinda creepy. Would you be able to survive if some mean kids left you alone in the woods with no clothes?

  • Annalise: If you are lost in the woods the thing most people die from is exposure so would I have a blanket? Would I have shelter? Maybe I could surprise myself if I had a knife or something but I don’t think I could survive in the woods for a couple of weeks without any clothes.
  • Chandler: Well, I do know how to shoot a gun but survival-wise, I don’t know. If I were in a situation like that I’d be scared to death and maybe crying.

Clothesless on the islandClothesless on the island

Kidzworld: Are you both home-schooled or in regular school and have you ever been bullied?

  • Chandler: I was in home school but now I’m in regular school and I’m not really bullied. I don’t think any of my friends are bullies, as far as I can tell. There’s not much bullying at my school. There’s a lot of other stuff going on but not much of that.
  • Annalise: I was home-schooled for 3rd and 4th grade but go to regular school now. The bullying started in 6th grade and really hasn’t ended since. They isolate you and make you feel like you’re invisible. They make you feel like nobody cares about you. It was really sad and it hurt but you can’t let them have that power over you. It just makes you stronger.

Howie and Grace, scared and alone, hugHowie and Grace, scared and alone, hug

Kidzworld: Are you treated differently since you are in show business?

  • Annalise: Some people may think that I think I’m something because I’m an actor. It’s not like that at all. It’s just like any other person’s activity or hobby, like soccer or dancing. That’s probably why it’s a problem for some other actors and actresses as well. “Oh, she’s an actress so she thinks she’s all that”. But I’m going to high school this year Campbell Hall (in L.A.). I’m really excited about that. They have a really good dance program. I do ballet (note: Dakota Fanning went there as is her sister Elle).
  • Chandler: I get a lot more attention than some of the other kids at school but I’ve been there for a while so mostly I’m just another kid.

Kidzworld: Annalise, I’m also a redhead. What do you think is special about us?

  • Annalise: We are very rare and stand out in a crowd. And, we’re going extinct. Karen Gillan (co-star of Oculus, a horror movie Annalise is in) is one too.

Grace spots her mom. Will Howie be left behind?Grace spots her mom. Will Howie be left behind?

Kidzworld: How are you kind of like Grace and how are you really different in real life? And Chandler, how are you like and unlike Howie?

  • Annalise: Both Grace and I were bullied but hers is more physical than me being isolated but we both are willing to sacrifice what was right to do the wrong thing (and have an adventure). Everybody wants to be a part of something where you belong and everyone wants you there. They both have more confidence in the end. I know that the bullying for me is over with middle school but going into high school I’ll be meeting a whole new group of people so I’m excited.
  • Chandler: I’m not like Howie too much. He doesn’t have a family that really loves him and I do. He’s nice but he’s a little awkward and finds the good in every situation. I hope I’d be like that as well.

Planning a next movePlanning a next move

Kidzworld: What was your favorite scene from “Standing Up”?

  • Annalise: One of my favorite scenes is when Howie and Grace are in a hotel room; they’ve gotten a key and they introduce themselves to each other for the first time. They’ve gone on this whole journey but it’s “Wait! I don’t know your name.” and they introduce themselves. It’s so sweet. I love that.  
  • Chandler: Favorite, probably the scene where I got to drive the truck or at least pretend to drive it. The scene where they crash it and have to jump off a cliff. I didn’t jump off the cliff. That was like a 30 foot cliff but I did swim and wore a wetsuit because the water was pretty cold then in Georgia (where they shot it).

At the hotel, "Hey what's your name anyway?"

Kidzworld: What scene was the hardest for you as actors or maybe as a person?

  • Annalise: Hardest I guess the scene where I call my mom for the first time after running away. I was at a phone booth and there was something wrong with the camera so we had to go back and shoot that scene again. It was upsetting. I had to sob and cry during that scene and then do it over again.
  • Chandler: I don’t know that I had a hard scene but one that was kind of brutal and I had to prepare for it, it was a night shoot and it was the one where guys strip Howie in the woods (so they can leave him alone with no clothes).  That was kind of hard because that kind of thing had never happened to me. The guys were actually nice kids in real life and were sorry they were doing that to me but it was kind of scary in a way. It’s worse when you’re 12.

Grace and Howie on the runGrace and Howie on the run

Kidzworld: What are your memories of working with Val Kilmer (who plays a weird deputy sheriff in the movie)? He is scary in the film but was he nice or just weird in real life?

  • Chandler: I think he’s the type of actor who likes to be in his character but he was a funny guy. His character was creepy but he was a really nice guy.
  • Annalise: Val is a method actor (stays in character).  He was kind of creepy on and off the set which made the scene more believable but it was a little weird.

Val Kilmer as the weird sheriff frightens the tweensVal Kilmer as the weird sheriff frightens the tweens

Kidzworld: What was the audition process like for that movie? Did you audition in person or send the director a tape?

  • Annalise: I auditioned in person with that scene at the phone booth.
  • Chandler: I sent in a tape. It was a tape of two of the scenes in the film and that was it. We sent in the tape and about a month later they cast me. It was a pretty easy casting process. I think Annalise was cast first.

Howie (Chandler) drives for the first timeHowie (Chandler) drives for the first time

Kidzworld: Annalise, do you remember first meeting Chandler? Tell us about that. Have you stayed in touch?

  • Annalise: There is a little diner across from the hotel (where they were filming in Georgia) so we met for the first time there. We still stay in touch. We text. I actually saw him about three months ago and we hung out. It was really good to see him.

Kidzworld: Howie is scared to death but wants to be brave for Annalise’s character Grace. Could you be that brave, Chandler?

  • Chandler: If I was with a girl it would depend on whether I was trying to impress the girl or not but if I really had to be brave, I guess I could step into that role and be the brave one but only if I had to.

About to jump off a 30 foot cliff!About to jump off a 30 foot cliff!

Kidzworld: The movie is based on a novel called “Goat Island”. Did you read it? Are you reading any other books this summer?

  • Chandler: No, I didn’t read it but I heard that the script was pretty true to the book. I do have to read scripts every now and then. They are shorter than books but you feel like you read a whole story in an hour.
  • Annalise: I have. I read it after the movie. Going to high school there is a lot of summer reading. I read “Looking for Alaska”. I still have to read “Of Gods and Goddesses” for history and for free-reading I read “A Great and Terrible Beauty” which is a ghost story. It’s a good summer reading book.

Kidzworld: At 14, what are your pet peeves about the opposite sex? What about boys or girls annoys you?

  • Annalise: One thing that really bugs me about boys is that they don’t have courage. At our 7th and 8th grade winter formal, none of the 8th grade boys asked the girls to dance. The 7th graders were dancing with the 7th grade girls and the 6th graders even. The 8th grade boys still think girls have cooties or something! (I explain that next year, in high school, it’ll be way different). 
  • Chandler: Hummmm, I guess when girls talk a lot. I’m the type of guy who just likes to say two words and get the point across.

Trapped by the weird sheriff (Val Kilmer)Trapped by the weird sheriff (Val Kilmer)

Kidzworld: Chandler, what is the most valuable lesson you have learned about show biz since your first films or TV shows as a little guy?

  • Chandler: I guess to just stay humble. You can put yourself out there but don’t become a jerk. And just stay true to yourself.

Kidzworld: Annalise, you are in a new scary movie called Oculus. What is next for you Chandler?

  • Chandler: They changed the name to Angels Sing and it should be coming out this year at Christmas time. And I have some other stuff on the table that may or may not happen. Just going back to school and being a “normal” kid for a while.

Hiding in the bushesHiding in the bushes

Kidzworld: Why will tweens and teens enjoy seeing Standing Up?  

  • Chandler: I guess it’s an encouraging movie, especially if you get bulled and I think they’d like that.  
  • Annalise: No matter where you find yourself; a popular kid, a nerd or alone, or a kid with a really over-protective parent, whether you are any of those people, you’re gonna find somebody in this film to relate to. You can relate to Grace or Howie if you’re being bullied. And, if you are, you have to tell someone; tell the school, tell your parents; tell an older friend but there is help and you have to get that help.

Check out Standing Up on view on demand and DVD + Blu-ray starting August 20th!