The most memorable part of making “Rushmore” for Anderson was returning to the place he grew up. “We made ‘Rushmore’ in my high school, so the strongest association for me is being back in class, essentially. You know, literally in the same classrooms,” he explained. Shooting “Rushmore” in the same place where Anderson himself came of age probably allowed him to access Max’s mindset more easily. “The thing that probably strikes me the most forcefully when I think back on it is just that I was, went home,” the director concluded.
Houston, Anderson’s hometown, has always had a big impact on his filmmaking. “Houston has an incredibly deep cultural tradition, I think. We have great museums and we’ve always had lots of movies here. I think it’s a very good place to start,” he told Houston Matters. The city’s disordered layout may have even influenced his distinctly symmetrical cinematography. “Maybe if you feel a little chaos as a kid… you want to make order, you want to make it neater,” Anderson suggested.
Max and Anderson have a lot of similarities, even attending the same high school, but the director didn’t intend for “Rushmore” to be autobiographical. He wanted his work to speak to who he was as a teenager, not to reflect it, and he succeeded. “If I had seen this movie when I was 15 years old, that would have been my movie. That would have changed me,” he told Charlie Rose triumphantly.
Shooting at his old high school in Houston made “Rushmore” a deeply personal film for Wes Anderson, and this intimacy is apparent onscreen. The filmmaker’s connection to the characters, the setting, and the story made for an unforgettable work that established his signature directorial style — or, as he calls it, his cinematic “handwriting.”