Finding Direction: Local film examines a lost generation

Jun 3 • FilmNo Comments on Finding Direction: Local film examines a lost generation

College campuses or downtown hubs generally yield droves of beards, black-rimmed glasses and meaningless conversations—or, perhaps, an absence of discourse as eyes remain fixated on the illuminated LCD screens of smartphones. These narcissistic, entitled and tech-addicted creatures compose Generation Y or the millennials.

A product of the baby boomers, years used to define them range from the ‘80s to the early aughts, depending on publication or research group. When examining Gen-Y in their natural habitat—a “little-known” well-known bar—one can note a propensity for self-indulgence, stemming from a loss of personal connections. Social media has allowed “Gen-Yers” to craft who they are, rather than be who they are. The millennials boast big aspirations, yet remain directionless.

Poster by Ryan Jaccard

Poster by Ryan Jaccard

Local filmmaker Graham Patterson, a member of Gen-Y himself, embarked on a cinematic venture to further explore the conflicted sect of the population. With his short film “The Disposable Generation” nearing completion, he now turns to funding post-production and submission costs for festivals. Patterson and the rest of his crew have just launched an Indiegogo campaign, and will host an open-invitation party at Jengo’s Playhouse to celebrate the supporters this Thursday, June 5th.

The film began as a categorical investigation, examining the similarities and differences between generations. His initial research excited him, though he quickly realized he had an abundance of information to answer a question he hadn’t put into words. He realized that he wanted to create something of a call to action. Not wanting to become preachy, Patterson conceded that he wasn’t speaking on behalf of the entirety of Gen-Y. “As soon as I realized I was just one voice in this conversation, I felt a lot less pressure,” Patterson elaborates. “A lot of the gristly didacticism fell from the script until only conversations were left.”

Pre-production began with a round of drinks and a discussion between Patterson and producers Ryan Jaccard and John Lopez. The initial budget for the film was projected at $3,000; however, the generosity of the community greatly reduced the strain on these young filmmakers’ pockets.

“Lighthouse Films, Calico Room, [casting directors] Susan Cunningham [and] Marty Siu, [and] Cucalorus all were vital to this production,” Jaccard details. “We’re so grateful to have worked with them.”Lighthouse Films donated all of the equipment they used. The in-kind dedication and work from cast and crew members such as Joy Britt, Channing Duke, Zach Pappas, Scott Parks, and Hannah Smith aided the production, too. Though the team didn’t come close to spending the anticipated budget, the film came out looking even sleeker than the tentative figures would’ve permitted.

TO BE YOUNG: Lucas (Scott Parks) and Fee (Devin McGee) walk aimlessly to a party in 'The Disposable Generation.'

TO BE YOUNG: Lucas (Scott Parks) and Fee (Devin McGee) walk aimlessly to a party in ‘The Disposable Generation.’

“The Disposable Generation” chronicles a slew of youths at a house party. Much like “Slacker,” the camera becomes its own character, following sex, violence and the grotesque. The party-goers’ banter highlights a lack of principles and drive. One scene features a filmmaker, Lucas (Scott Parks),  who has recently returned from New York after completing his latest film. His film exploits a  friend’s struggle with suicidal thoughts; the scene makes it ambiguous as to whether the filmmaker and party-goers are rooting for an intriguing film or the friend’s well-being. As well, the film warns against using youth as a crutch, and not cultivating a distinct sense of self and goals.

The film is not only committed to conceptual renderings, it also boasts an ambitious 6-minute tracking shot that spans a quarter-mile. Taking place outside at night and covering six pages of dialogue, lighting and immaculate logistical planning proved key. “The Disposable Generation’s” director of photography, Kyle Simmons, managed the feat.

Given the film’s setting of a house party, extras quickly became a necessity. Wilmington’s close-knit film community rallied behind the film, and friends poured out in support.

“We had a great presence on social media and industry professionals like Cunningham and Siu were invaluable in the help they provided,” Patterson describes. “We even got a call for extras over the radio at some point. We actually still haven’t figured out who was responsible for that one. I guess if you’re reading this and are responsible for it, let me know. I owe you a beer.”

With a multitude of background workers garnered, the next hurtle to overcome was Mother Nature. Rain came as a setback one night during filming. Each time the crew would try to get a shot, it would begin again. As time passed the number of extras diminished, leaving them with only a handful of people. Knowing that the masses frequenting the downtown bars would be looking for an after party, the cast and crew sent out a text. Their gamble worked, as they sent out shuttles, picking up bar patrons to fill out the background.

“Lo and behold, the rain held up long enough for us to get a couple takes and snag our shot with more extras than we had to begin with,” Patterson reports. “More than anything, it’s just inspiring to live in a town that continues to galvanize itself around projects it believes in. I don’t think a project like ‘The Disposable Generation’ could plausibly be shot any other town, at least with the overwhelming support that we had. Film is such a community effort, and I’m ineffably proud to be a filmmaker in Wilmington.”

With a nearly complete film, the team now looks toward finishing post-production and hitting the festival trail. They launched their Indiegogo campaign–with a goal of $2,145–after filming, straying from the traditional folly of asking for funds with nothing to show. They aim to submit to the 20th annual Cucalorus Film Festival; however, the official festival push will fully begin in spring of 2015.

“Festivals we’re excited to explore are DC Shorts, Sidewalk Film Festival, LA Shorts Festival, and Atlanta Film Festival,” Jaccard explains. “Some long shots are the Hamptons International Film Festival, Indie Memphis Film Festival and Seattle International Film Festival. If our funds allow for it, we’d love to submit internationally. I think we’re a great fit for any competitive shorts festival or independent film festival.”

In order to further their fundraising efforts, they are hosting an official campaign party—“DISPOSED.”  The event will feature a cash bar (the first 50 guests get one free drink ticket), music spun by Quinn Blake and a sneak peak of “The Disposable Generation.” As well, there will be an interactive donation station with special perks being doled out to contributors. People who donate beforehand can also claim their rewards at the party.

“There are two key perks to look out for during the party,” Jaccard tells. “A $30 donation earns you early access to the film, a film poster, website credit, a handmade ‘Festival Sponsor’ badge, and one additional drink ticket. Upgrade to the $50 level for a  ‘Production Sponsor’ badge and a hand-decorated ‘All You Can Drink’ cup.”

Though fulfilling, art is rarely lucrative. For anyone to put themselves out there, working tirelessly with no promise of a return, it takes courage. Folks who would like to help a few “Gen-Yers” can donate at indiegogo.com/projects/the-disposable-generation.

Details

DISPOSED

The Disposable Generation Campaign Party

Jengo’s Playhouse, 815 Princess St.
Thursday, June 5th, 7 p.m.
Free; donations encouraged
www.whoisgenwhy.com

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