Although she didn’t know it at the time, Hallie Meyers-Shyer got an idea for her first movie Home Again when she was growing up.
The first-time director, 30, says that a key plot point of her film starring Reese Witherspoon — in which a newly-divorced mom (Witherspoon) invites three young men to temporarily live in her guest house — was partially inspired by a friend’s real-life experience.
“A friend of mine when I was growing up, her mom was single and these three guys stayed with them a little bit,” Meyers-Shyer tells PEOPLE. “And as you can imagine, that sounded so fun and interesting. She was one of the kids. It was a super fun slice of her life. As a writer, you hear tidbits like that and you think ‘Oh, three guys, single mom, that’s interesting.’ You hear a little nugget of something and you make it your own.”
Even though this is her first film, which she wrote and directed, Meyers-Shyer knows a little something about the romantic comedy genre having grown up around them. Her mom Nancy Meyers, who produced Home Again, is the director behind hits like Something’s Gotta Give and It’s Complicated, and her dad is Charles Shyer, who directed Father of the Bride and Baby Boom.
“My mom and I made this movie together – she produced it, I directed it, it was awesome for us, it was special,” Meyers-Shyer says of welcoming her parents’ expertise. “There was nothing but positivity and support so I’m not trying to shy away from it at all. I made a film in a genre that my parents have excelled in and I think if anything that’s really exciting and special for us.”
She also recommends having Witherspoon on hand for both her star power and supportive energy.
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“I learned so much from Reese but something I think is rare is she makes everyone so comfortable,” says Meyers-Shyer. “She knows everyone’s name and is just about the coolest person you could possibly work with. She treated me like I had directed 10 movies and put that faith in me and made me confident in myself and I think that made everyone else confident in me too. She set the tone on set, a warm inviting atmosphere.”
Meyers-Shyer hopes that audiences enjoy Home Again as a warm, feel-good escape.
“I think it’s perfect timing to have a film come out in this genre, a film that’s empowering to women and that makes you feel good,” she says. “I think it’s a good date night movie too.”
Home Again is now in theaters.