Teenage rites of passage are often undermined in pop culture: the prom, a first kiss, and, for some reason, food fights.
One of the latest YA entries, by Netflix adaptation of by Sarah Dessen On the way for the ridecenters a food fight at a summer barbecue as a key part of Auden’s (Emma Pasarow) coming-of-age and her central romance with brooding BMX biker, Eli (Belmont Camelli).
When Eli makes his first appearance at a party in over a year, it shocks Colby’s other teens, but it buys him a moment to tick another box on Auden’s summer checklist – and creates the perfect setup for their first kiss.
Sitting with Dessen, Pasarow, Camelli and writer-director Sofia Alvarez for the EW podcast Screen after reading, we got the dirty (and stinky) details behind one of the film’s most memorable scenes.
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“It was awesome,” Camelli says of filming the food fight. “Everyone’s mustard was drying down to their shirts. The smell didn’t dissipate. It only got worse.”
But Camelli and Pasarow didn’t have the weight of the fight in the way the scene was written. “We start the food fight, then we go into the house and have a scene, just the two of us,” Pasarow explains. “Meanwhile, everyone is having a long, very real, very real fight over coleslaw, noodles, ketchup, food. And we had to take cover. But I remember when we we did, we had to run around the house. And everyone got very primitive and animalistic.”
A key part of the fight that Pasarow had to film was the inciting incident when Eli spins an entire bowl of baked beans on top of his head. “The beans come out in the shower but the smell takes a little longer,” Pasarow quips. “And then the physical memory of having a bean wreath running down your back, that also takes a bit of time to emotionally detach.” (Camelli adds that bean placement was often careful to ensure continuity between takes.)
Even more challenging was the fact that they basically only had one take to pull off the biggest food fight. “With the food battle, we just had to get it,” says director Sofia Alvarez. “So we had two cameras that day, and our DP, and our [crew] came in with trash bags over their heads and on their cameras, and we were like, “Okay, everyone, just go.” And they’d be in the food fight shoot, but like, ‘That’s our one shot. Do not hold back. It was chaos.”
Alyssa Rodrigues, the film’s executive producer, even had fun playing a party animal in the background. Due to COVID-19 protocols, they were often understaffed on background actors, but especially with this messy sequence, everything was on deck for any crew members who wanted to join in on the fun. “Alyssa won the food battle,” Camelli says. “She was really aggressive. It was tactical. She nailed it.”
Listen to the latest episode of Screen after reading below to learn more about the team behind On the way for the ride.
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