In Conversation With: Becky Aikman

Written By Debra Vago

The Utah Film Center, in partnership with The King’s English Bookshop, hosted a special screening of the made-in-Utah classic Thelma & Louise, followed by a discussion with author Becky Aikman and our very ow Utah Film Commission director, Virginia Pearce.

Aikman’s newly released book, Off the Cliff: How the Making of Thelma & Louise Drove Hollywood to the Edge, chronicles the remarkable story of a boundary-breaking project written by an unknown female, that ended up becoming an award-winning movie.

Virginia Pearce and Becky Aikman at the Utah Film Center screening and discussion event.

Thelma & Louise remains one of the most iconic films to be shot in Utah. Released in 1991, it was one of the earlier productions that saw the beauty and sheer versatility of our locations. Since then, many more have recognized Utah’s potential as a destination for filming everything from adventure genre, sci-fi and new-age westerns, to dramas and romantic comedies.

After copious research, author Aikman shares a revealing behind-the-scenes look at the making of one of the most controversial and influential movies, with interesting revelations – from industry facts and figures to intimate conversations with the cast and crew.

Here is an excerpt from the book to give you a glimpse of what an interesting read it is!

The writing was sharp, whipsawing from humor to deep-seated longing. The characters were complicated, vulnerable and flawed, careening through the sorts of hairpin emotional turns that could win awards for the players who snagged the roles. The plot hurtled along from one brazen surprise to the next, yet it was simple, too: Two outlaws lam it in a hot convertible after shooting a would-be rapist. The story fit safely within the cinema template of broken taboos, anti-heroes and screw-the-system attitudes that Hollywood had championed since the breakup of the old-time studios.

But there was a catch, as they say in the movies, and it was a sticky one. The outlaws behind the wheel of that convertible were named Thelma and Louise, both of them women, recognizably ordinary as the story began. Yet along the way they drove fast, drank hard, picked up a one-night stand and shed their conformist skins to embrace intoxicating freedom against the landscape of the American West. With the law closing in, they realized they couldn’t go back — “Something’s crossed over in me,” one said — and rather than submit to convention, they chose a shocking fate, certain to polarize the audience … But that’s getting ahead of the story.

Contributing writer Debra Vago is a mountain mama, nature lover and film enthusiast. 

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