Some dream of Hollywood — 15-year-old Tre Peart is already there. Here‘s how he did it…
It’s a magical experience when a book changes your life.
In Tre Peart‘s case, the book was The War With Grandpa, a 1984 release by Robert Kimmel Smith. It was assigned school reading for the eight-year-old at the time, but he became engrossed in the fictional story of a boy named Peter whose grandfather comes to stay with the family and takes over his room. Peter then wages an all-out, no-holds-barred battle to get his room back.
“I like it a lot because of the way it made me laugh,” says Peart. “The story really resonated with me. Not just the light-hearted pranks, but also the peace that Pete and his grandpa reach in the end.”
Peart was so taken by the book that he wanted to see the movie version. Only, one didn’t exist. But it just so happened that his parents are movie producers (past credits include Life On The Line and Perfect Holiday), so he asked them if they could make it. They agreed and embarked on making the film, which would take seven years.
After they optioned the book from Smith, they were set to collaborate with Harvey Weinstein. As many know, the producer ended up having his own issues. So, the Peart family started Brookdale Studios and the film was distributed via 101 Studios. They went through many revisions of the script and set about casting. After nearly two dozen teens tried out, 15-year-old Oakes Fegley, who starred in 2016’s Pete’s Dragon, was selected to play Peter. Other cast members include Uma Thurman, Christopher Walken, Jane Seymour and Cheech Marin.
But Grandpa? Actor Robert DeNiro was always the young Peart’s first choice. After pitching him on the idea that he‘d never done a wholesome comedy that the whole family could watch, DeNiro agreed to play the part.
“I was very happy to be able to see him again, as we had met in New York for the script reading,” says Peart. “He left me a note in my family’s trailer saying ‘Good luck and congrats to the youngest producer I‘ve ever worked with!’ It was great being greeted with such a kind gesture from him.”
On the Atlanta-based set, Peart worked as a production assistant (and ultimately received an executive producer credit) where he claimed to have a lot of fun and got to create a bond with fellow cast members both in front and behind the camera. Filming and editing became his favourite aspects of making the film, and the young teen could often be found sitting down with his parents and analyzing various scenes in order to decide what worked and what music may be appropriate.
Throughout, he learned about the hills and valleys of creating a movie, be it the intense frustrations of trying to contact people or the feeling of immense satisfaction when it’s finally ready to be released.
“The creative aspects of it are fun, such as casting and writing and filming, but the one part that is especially difficult working as an independent company is financing,” says Peart. “Though, after all the tough times, and seven long years, it‘s finally come out which makes it all worth it!”
Unfortunately, Smith passed away earlier this year, so the author didn’t get to experience the film‘s global release. However, he did have a hand in the scripting process and was able to see the finished Tim Hill directed film at one point. It’s likely that he was able to spot Peart make several brief cameos in scenes, similar to what comic book writer Stan Lee did during a string of Marvel releases. And, if all goes well at the box office, there may even be a sequel — potentially The War With Grandma — but if that doesn‘t pan out, Peart, with his varied interests, has a potential career already mapped out.
“We are already talking about continuing with the War With Grandpa franchise, and optioning various books that I think are great opportunities and projects for the future,” says Peart. “If I am not continuing with this path, I want to be a part of the sports world in some fashion, whether that be as a journalist, a reporter, talk show host, coach, front office guy or even being on the front lines as an athlete.”
Today, off the set, it‘s not all about optioning new projects and working towards the next film franchise for the 15-year-old. Sometimes he’s just watching movies and playing sports or video games while eating popcorn on the side. And even though he calls himself “laid back”, his film experience taught him major life lessons.
“I hope that I am inspiring people not to think poorly of their ideas, but to get someone to listen to them,” says Peart. “By really trying to make your voice heard, it will help with multiple aspects of your life, especially if you want to work in a creative field. Having people who are receptive to any and all ideas from anyone is key to being successful.“