David and I love the 1979 movie Over the Edge, about youth run wild in a suburban cultural wasteland. The (out-of-print) soundtrack is terrific, and so were the kids in the movie (most were not professional actors).
On the 30th anniversary of the movie, Mike Sacks of Vice magazine put together an oral history of the movie with comments from 20 members of the cast and crew.
Jonathan Kaplan (director): I was only 30 when I was hired to do Over the Edge, but I had some unique experience, which helped. I had studied with Martin Scorsese when I was younger. And I had been the director of an infamous Sex Pistols movie called Who Killed Bambi?Here's the Over the Edge trailer.
What I took away from that experience was the spark and the truth that I saw in the punk aesthetic. And I saw that same spark and truth in the Over the Edge script. I thought, These kids are American punks. They’re not as articulate as the English punks, but they’re also in a rage.
With that in mind, I decided to attack Over the Edge from a punk angle: keep it simple. No fancy camera moves, visual effects, nothing fancy. I remember when I first saw Super Fly. There were boom shadows, badly shot scenes, and mistakes. But there was a simplicity and an authenticity to it that I really appreciated.
When it came time to cast Over the Edge, we tried to go for that same authenticity. We wanted real teens, as opposed to professional actors–and kids who were also age-appropriate. No twenty-somethings playing 14-year-olds.