Wednesday, October 10, 2012


One of the things that I love is when people I know make films that end up at festivals that invite me. I’ve known Jen Westcott online for years - she’s a screenwriter who has won some awards and had some scripts optioned and is right on the cusp of making it in the biz... but she decided not to wait for Hollywood to knock on her door, and with her sister put together a Kickstarter campaign and made their own damned film. At it played at Raindance! And Jen and her sister flew over to see the film on the big screen!

The genesis of the film was Dov Simons course on making your own movie and his advice to put a bunch of teenagers in a house and have a maniac chop them up.  Jen & Vic didn’t want to chop people up... but what else could they do with teenagers in a house? Jen came up with garage bands - and being trapped in the garage... and the story was born. So a garage band that is breaking up for all kinds of personal reasons ends up trapped in the garage when the power is cut and nobody knows how to open the automatic garage door manually.

The film is kind of BREAKFAST CLUBish - with a well drawn group of very different kids trapped in the garage together, forced to hash out all of their problems while waiting to be rescued. Of course, one has a couple of blunts in his pocket and even the square kids partake. There are also no shortage of bathroom jokes - as the only toilet they have is an empty can and the only privacy is a pup tent in storage. In fact, the garage as a location is a bit of genius as you find all sorts of interesting things to play with in storage - from stale Halloween candies to tools they might use to try and escape.

The various conflicts that need to be hashed out include Lead Singer Scott who has quit the group after spying his girlfriend fooling around with Lead Guitarist Richie, he’s shown up with his new girlfriend - enemy of everyone - in order to pick up his guitar on the way to an interview with a Business College.  Wacky drummer Schinder (source of the blunts) who has some new songs he’s written (and his songs suck - also he wants to change the band’s genre every week and lots of laughs come from his different costumes for each music genre), the Bass Player who has a twin brother who is in the Canadian version of ROTC and is ultra-strict, and Meadow the punk-goth girl who hates everything and everyone and has a sarcastic zinger for everything (I fell in love with her and you will, too), and new singer Abby who is the rich girl whose mother accused Meadow’s maid mom of stealing jewelry, got her fired, and ruined Meadow’s life. Two other characters are *outside* the garage and provide some laughs, Richie’s sister Lizzie who is a spelling bee champ, and Mr. Kaminski the old guy across the street who can not hear their cries for help because he’s vacuuming his driveway.

The film is lots of fun, but because there is no power we get almost no music - and when I first sat down in the cinema waiting to see a film about a garage band, I expected lots of music... and the location wears out its welcome a little too early.  We *do* get great background music - and here’s a stroke of genius on the part of the filmmakers: they went online and got songs from hundreds of unsigned garage bands all over the world, then selected the best songs for their sound track. Now one of the ways they are promoting the film is to take it the towns of each garage band on the sound track and do a screening with the band playing before and after. Because they were in London, we had the local garage band Van Susans on their soundtrack playing after the screening (and at Waxy’s Pub before the screening). It was a great experience - how many times does a garage band have a violin?

After the band’s music ended we retired to a local bar where Raindance had bought out the private downstairs section for a party that began in the afternoon and kept going until they kicked us out. I talked with Jen and Vic about the film, and how they reached that point where they decided to just make the movie and not wait for Hollywood to call. I think this is the big message from Raindance this year - if you are getting meetings and nibbles and it’s obvious that you are on the cusp... no reason to wait. Make the movie you want to make.

- Bill

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