Director Lisa Cholodenko

Producers Celine Rattray, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Gary Gilbert, Philippe Hellmann, Jordan Horowitz, Daniela Taplin Lundberg

Production companies Gilbert Films, Antidote Films, Mandalay Vision

US distributor Focus Features

International sales Inferno Entertainment

US release date July 9, 2010

When Focus Features acquired North America and select international territories on The Kids Are All Right following a bidding war at Sundance last year, it marked the start of a terrific 12 months for writer-director Lisa Cholodenko, the actors and the producers. But the journey until then had been far from all right.

Producer Celine Rattray had been tracking the Los Angeles-set family drama and became involved in January 2009 at the behest of Overture Films. Rattray and producer Jeffrey Levy-Hinte made a plan to produce and co-finance and Rattray brought the project to Mandalay Vision, the independent finance division of Mandalay Entertainment she was leading.

The project had almost gone into production with a different cast four years ago, and when Overture pulled out a sense of deja vu descended. But Rattray was determined to get it made and knew she could count on Cholodenko and other loyal champions. Levy-Hinte had been attached to the project for six years and Julianne Moore for five. In January 2009, Annette Bening came on board and the producers scheduled a summer shoot.

“In the first half of 2009 we started looking for the money and finding the rest of the cast,” Rattray says. “Lisa did such an extraordinary job getting Mark Ruffalo, Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson. We decided to make the movie for what we felt was an irresistible price, which was $4m. For that amount with a strong script, great director and that cast, it felt that $4m should be financeable.

“It turned out to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I sent the script out to more than 500 people — sales agents, distributors, investors — and we got passed on by almost every one. It was seen as small and niche. I think the lesbian theme worked very much against it in the eyes of the financiers who thought audiences would be limited.

“You have to have such a strong belief in a project when you get 20-30 passes a day. The tougher the movie is to finance, the more investors you generally end up with. Ultimately Kids got configured with 13 different investors.”

A further challenge was Ruffalo’s availability. He was completing his directorial debut Sympathy For Delicious and could only be on set six days out of the 23-day schedule. But it all worked out. Following the triumphant Sundance premiere, Kids won the Teddy prize in Berlin, grossed more than $20m in North America and won two Golden Globes — for best picture, comedy or musical and for Bening in the best actress, comedy or musical category.

The film also picked up four Bafta nominations, including for Bening and Moore in the leading actress category.