We’re Still Dancing #DWF19

 

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Above, creators and stars – what indie filmmaking is all about – How We Met.

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Above, cast and crew of Misfortune.

Dances with Film ended tonight, but we’ve still got more films on our dance card to review.

Misfortune screened Friday evening, a crime caper shot in Tucson, directed and co-written by Desmond Devenish, Xander Bailey co-writer. Devnish and Bailey also co-star in a film involving a diamond heist, betrayal, and a multi-generational crime legacy. Stellar turns by Kevin Gage as the chief bad guy and a small, well-tuned part by Steve Earle added to the pleasure of this desert noir.

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“We were looking for something gritty we could do on our own,” Bailey says.

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Devenish previously had a script in pre-production when the financing fell through. “This project was somewhat based on that experience. We wanted to do something that dealt with greed and money,” he laughs. His first feature as a director, Devenish credits his success wearing three hats, as lead, writer, and director to “having such an incredible group to work with.” DP Seth Johnson explored the desert locales with Devenish. “We spent six days shot listing before we shot a key sequence at Picture Rock.” A 27-day shoot, the film was two years in the writing and a year on editing, with sound effects being the biggest challenge.

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Best Q & A question of the night – why was the getaway car a Suburu? “It was my car,” Devenish reports.

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Beacon Point is a sometimes campy horror film with many twists and turns set on the Appalachian trail.

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“The woods are a great spot for a creepy movie,” director and co-writer Eric Blue says of his Georgia-wood main location. Shot in 23 days, 8 using drone footage, the production veers from horror into sci-fi, but it wasn’t aliens that attacked strong female lead Rae Olivier.

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“I was attacked by chiggers,” she says, describing what became a keep-off ritual as “bug spray morning and night. It was muggy and buggy in the woods.” As to her role: “I liked Zoe’s arc, she had so much to overcome and huge purpose. I saw her as a relatable girl thrown a lot of curve balls that made her a survivor in the end.”

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The film was partially funded by Kickstarter, and director Blue stressed the importance of marketing not just one’s film, but a Kickstarter as well. “You have to know how to get the word out there.”

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How We Met is one fantastic dark comedy. Both brilliantly subversive, clever, and sweetly romantic, it’s hard to overstate how hilarious, fresh, and simply original this film is.

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Writers Chadwick Hopson, Brian Flaccus, Oscar Rene Lozoya II – with Lozoya helming as director, take their pitch perfect ensemble cast including Christina Moses, Chadwick Hopson, Ice-T, Brian Flaccus, Jonathan Kehoe, Cale Epps, David Weiss, Alex Raines, Alex Davidson through the paces of a blind date that goes terribly awry with the murder of a corrupt cop, a very promiscuous ex-girlfriend, drug dealing/dj ex-boyfriend, and a family business that’s most unexpected.

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Unbelievably, the script was written in a “week. The three of us have been writing sketches together for years,” says Hopson. Even more surprising – “the budget was $1000,” says Lozoya. The miniscule budget was assisted by shooting in Flaccus and Hopson’s hometown of Flagstaff and a tight 8-day shoot. The project was shot using Black Magic and Pocket Cinema cameras.

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“Somehow, every obstacle turned out to have an even better solution to the problem,” Hopson says.

The three co-writers describe themselves as “true rom-com fans.”

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Moses was among 300 actresses called in to audition. “I loved it because it was funny, quirky, weird, but has so much heart. Everyone can relate to the dating story, and it was told with so much humor.”

How We Met just must be seen – because it’s hilariously wonderful and because you won’t believe how great it looks for such a small initial cost. Someone should snatch this one up.

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The Drama Club was not in competition at the festival, but was a premiere of DWF alums.

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A funky, sexy, fun Big Chill-type reunion among, no surprise members of a high school drama club and their significant others, a tight script based around a location director Joe McClean and friends visited annually resulted in a deeply involving ensemble comedy-drama.

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“I wrote the script and then invited these people, most of which I’ve known a long time, to do a table read in 2014. We all really bonded.”

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Liza de Weerd ‘s Elle is a particularly strong character. “I found it important and interesting that you can write a sexually liberated character that gets judged so easily, whereas a man would not,” the actress notes.

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Director McClean adds “One of the biggest themes in the movie is the big difference in treatment between men and women. And in the end, the movie is about growing up and the fact that we’ve all got our baggage, we all understand life, and the idea of friendship, and how things don’t matter in the same way – when you are with old friends, they understand and they don’t care.”

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