While in Yale, well on his way to becoming a lawyer, writer-director Alan Hruska was tapped to join one of the school’s infamous senior secret societies. Though his particular group didn’t partake in any of the much-disputed rituals that a group like the notorious the Order of Skull and Bones did, its members did inspire an idea in Hruska when he met with them again many years later.
He turned the idea into Reunion, a movie revolving around a group of friends who belonged to the same secret society and how their 20-year reunion forces them to face old rivalries and unfulfilled ambitions, leaving no one unchanged.
Goldy Moldavsky (MM): The subject matter here is something you know very much about, having organized one such reunion. How does your Yale group feel about you making a film from this shared experience? Have you heard anything from Yale regarding the movie?
Alan Hruska (AH): Making a film about a senior society reunion is something that everyone should be fine with, and those I’ve heard from are. But the only “shared experience” is the program procedure, which is fairly generic, not the events of any actual program. And no one in my group is depicted in the film.
The Yale Daily News has mentioned the film, but the University itself hasn’t commented—nor would I expect it to.
MM: You’re a lawyer, a novelist, a playwright and you started your movie career pretty late in life. What sort of advice would you give to someone who would want to change careers and break into the movie biz?
AH: Make a movie. It’s the best way to learn how to do it.
MM: In Reunion and your 2004 film, The Warrior Class, the leads are lawyers. Being a lawyer in your earlier days, how much of your characters’ experiences mirror your own life?
AH: The trials in The Warrior Class were based loosely on two cases I tried as a young lawyer. Jake, in Reunion, retires to pursue a writing career, and I, much later than he, left the practice to write and direct movies and plays. In Nola, my first film, Ben, the young hero is a law student who rarely attends classes. Those are the overlaps.
MM: You’ve directed every movie you wrote. Would you ever consider putting someone else’s story on film?
MM: Does the movie demystify the preconceived notions that many people have about Yale secret societies? The “program” in Reunion seems more like group therapy sessions than what we’ve come to think of societies like the Skull and Bones.
AH: If there’s still mystification, I hope this contributes to its removal. Confidentiality, as to statements and events, should be observed, but I’m not much for rituals or for secrecy as to process. If any program is useful, all the more reason to let people know.
MM: What’s up next for you?
AH: I’ve been asked to direct a one-act play by Norman Mailer, based on the meeting between L.B.J. and Earl Warren that gave rise to the Warren Commission. We’ll start rehearsals next month. I’m also now working on the casting for a new film I hope to shoot next fall, just finishing another play, and plan to turn my last play, New House Under Construction, into a screenplay which I would shoot spring 2010.