How did you come up with the story? ^ This just kinda occurred to me, but I think more than anything the story begins and ends with the town. It’s definitely the key character that all others weave in and out of. They want to either leave it, talk about leaving it, or never let go of it. It’s about a guy named Jimmy Gordon, played by Ben Carney who I wrote and produced this thing with. He gets accepted to a school in California and at first it seems like the answer to all his problems. Of course, this is where the girl comes in. He ends up having to chose between the girl he’s been in love with his entire life, the only friends and home he’s ever known, and the dream of a place he’s never even visited. It’s all about the characters and the way they deal with the predictability of their lives. In between, there’s some fights, sex, drinking, cursing… and a car.
The “coming of age” movie is so overdone in the indie film world, why would you choose to do it? ^ We didn’t really set out to write a coming of age story. Actually, we had no idea what we were setting out to do. And I’m not sure this movie falls into that genre. This was mine and Ben’s first script and the advice you always get from teachers and screenwriting books is to write what you know. This story is what we knew. It’s so easy to stick movies about friendship and family life into that category, but I think our film kind of strays from the required criteria. If you’re wondering, those criteria include: 1.) a young man or woman who just doesn’t seem to fit into the world around them, 2.) a fishing and/or camping trip, 3.) a bully they must stand up to in the end. 4.) their dog dies, 5.) they punch their father in the mouth. 5.) a homosexual experience or inclination. Our movie has a few of these things, yeah, but let’s be fair. I think the “coming of age” part of these guys’ lives occurred five years before this story begins. Though they probably still fish together.
Were the experiences of the lead character in A Million Miles similar to your own in real-life? ^ In some ways I suppose. Like I said, Ben and I were just writing what we knew. That refers to the town more than anything. We shot where Ben and I grew up. It’s a summer amusement town that’s like a ghost town in winter. The main character could probably be described the same way, if that makes any sense. He’s more similar to Ben though. Dark and brooding, devilishly handsome… sorry. One scene we put in the movie that came straight from our own lives is when the two main characters enter a bar and they pass through this crowd of “friends” who all have the same thing to say. “Hey, what’s up? Home from school? You workin’? Still goin’ to school.” They don’t give a s**t. These are people who never had time for you in high school and now they act like you drank your first beer together. I think what it is is that they see you and feel better about themselves because you haven’t gone anywhere either and they want to share that with you. But I’m not bitter.
What was the budget and how long did it take you to make? ^ You’ve personally advised me never to discuss budget, so I’ll go with the industry standard, “under a million.” We shot for 20 days on the Jersey Shore in winter. Typically freezing, but it was 60 degrees every day. Post production is another story. That took a while cause we ran out of money. And we drink a lot.
Get the rest of the interview in part three of DIRECTOR COMING OF AGE: BRYAN SIPE>>>