Indie movies are coming along more and more these days, forget the big massive budgets of Hollywood and think small, even very small, budgets to produce a film, Sunset Rock is one of those movies that has been made on an unbelievable tiny budget, only $500 (£345).
Sunset Rock delves in to the world of fandom in the world of social media and young love & complex relationships collide within the YouTube community when college student, Jasey Rae (played by Megan Baim), crosses the country to shadow internet star, Lincoln (played by Andrew Nowak) for her social media class.
Their growing intimacy between creator & fan forces each to examine the way they imagine the other and the secrets they hide when presenting themselves online.
As the film moves along its interesting to see how the characters develop and how they change to each other, with their ups and downs, romance and how social media has brought them together in the first place.
With the thought of so many people using the Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and other platforms these days, it has become a scary thought that people may get a little obsessed with the new breed of celebrities.
Sunset Rock an Enjoyable DIY Movie
The film was made in true DIY style, the cast & crew got together once a week with a minimal crew over several months, with the production having a docu-drama feel to Sunset Rock, this works well, although I did find some of the camera focusing and shaky shots a little distracting.
Andrew Nowak, who is an accomplished stage and voice actor, was likeable as Lincoln, bringing a feeling to his part that he was indeed someone who isn’t sure about the fame that he may have found via his YouTube channel.
Megan Baim’s Jasey Rae character had me pondering for a little while during the movie, is Jasey a stalker and after Lincoln for more than just wanting to get to know him due to his fame or is she “shadowing” him for other reasons.
Sunset Rock is a true indie movie, made on a small budget the film did have me glued to find out the outcome of the Lincoln and Jasey relationship. Director/Writer Marc Wilkinson has certainly picked up on something in this indie romance with a social media circles.
I also have to mention the soothing soundtrack that accompanies the movie throughout, composer Tyler Koontz has composed a piece of work that not only suits the film, but it becomes part of experience of watching Sunset Rock and the journey that Lincon and Jasey are taking.
For me, I enjoyed the movie, it’s a nice change from all out action movies, Sci-Fi and horror that there seems to be a lot of these days. Don’t worry too much about the slight sound issues, such as wind being too noticeable on certain scenes or the in-out focusing of the camera, it all adds to the charm of this indie movie that you can see has been made by a team with a passion to get the story out there.
Sunset Rock Official Trailer
Blazing Minds Chats with Sunset Rock Director Marc Wilkinson
After watching the movie, I caught up with the director of Sunset Rock Marc Wilkinson for a quick chat about the movie and more.
Karen: How did you come up with the idea for Sunset Rock?
Marc: The idea for Sunset Rock came after attending the Los Angeles Book Festival and hearing young adult author John Green speak about the idea of imagining people complexly versus imagining someone has an idea. I looked around and saw all of his fans with his face and quotes from his books on their shirts and socks, waiting hours for an autograph, and I started wondering about the relationship between fan & celebrity, and this idea of romanticizing the idea of someone could apply to that dynamic too. John also happens to be a huge YouTube star and at the time I was trying and failing to be a “vlogger” as well, and these ideas just naturally meshed together – what if a YouTube star and a fan were to enter into a personal relationship, but while still holding onto their preconceived idea of each other – and idea perpetuated by their mutual fear of being honest about who they really are? And I was writing all of these ideas down sitting in the video room at Actor’s Access in Los Angeles where I was currently working, and I immediately knew – this room is where it starts.
Karen: Is there anything that you did during the filming that you wouldn’t do during your next movie?
Marc: Sure – I would never shoot by a highway ever again, especially without a professional audio crew. Sound was the biggest challenge for us, both in production and post production. Everyone will say that getting good location sound if the most important factor to making a professional feeling film, and I heard that, but apparently I wasn’t really listening. It took a lot of work to get the audio to where it is in the final film, which is still more “nosey documentary” quality than “Hollywood film”, and that definitely extended the post production process in both time and levels of stress. So going forward, high quality clear audio is going to be #1 production concern.
Karen: What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
Marc: Specifically to this project, I was inspired hugely by Drake Doremus’s film “Like Crazy”, which let me know what an emotional, intimate film you could make with two characters and a DSLR. The musical film “Once” and little indies like “The Puffy Chair” and “Tiny Furniture” also provided inspiration for doing a lot with a little, telling a character focused story and not worrying too much about elaborate camera moves or set pieces. Also Christopher Nolan’s first film “Following” – when I heard that he made that film shooting one day a week on live locations with a handful of friends volunteering as the cast & crew, I thought “I can do that!” And we did!
Karen: What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?
Marc: I don’t know what audiences want. I think the audience in the world, and 7 billion different people want 7 billion different things. You can’t make something for all of them, and trying to isn’t going to give you anything but a bland, vague, safe film. The only thing to do is tell the best story you can in the best way possible, and hope the people who want THAT thing can find it.
Karen: What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?
Marc: Festivals are at an interesting place right now – with the internet, they’re not as necessary as they used to be, but with the advent of digital video, there’s more of them with more submissions than ever. My first several short films premiered at the Illinois International Film Festival, and we’ve screened in a handful of others, but I think short of selling a feature at a major film market, the most important part of a festival is getting out there to support other upcoming artists. See what people are making, find interesting stories that aren’t having wide theatrical releases, and meet upcoming talent. And if you can pack a few people into your own screening and engage with them about your film, all the better. Sunset Rock hasn’t had a festival release yet – we decided most of our audience would probably be young people who live online and don’t have much money, so it made more sense to give it to them for free first. I’m infinity more interested in making sure the film can be seen & finds its audience than I am with making any sort of money off of it.
Karen: Do you think that the likes of Crowdfunding are the route to take for film makers to finance their movies?
Marc: We didn’t crowdfund for Sunset Rock rock at all – we made it for a micro-micro-budget that was essentially whatever I could set aside from my weekly paycheck at Actor’s Access to pay for that weekends food and props/costuming. Of course crowdfunding works great for some people – especially if you have some what of an established following already – but then you also get tangled up in fulfillment & related obligations. I’m sure I’ll use it at some point in the future, but right now I’m more interested in making interesting things for cheap and putting them into the world. Maybe once after people catch on to me & what I’m doing and say “This is pretty neat, but it would be cool to see it done on a bigger scale!” then I’ll reply with “money, please!”
Karen: What are your plans now that you have finished Sunset Rock?
Marc: My plan right now is to show Sunset Rock to as many people as possible. At the same time, I’m also editing a potential pilot that we shot last fall called “Autumn Bluffs” that is tonally very, very different from Sunset Rock – it’s essentially a parody of a 90’s teen drama, with monsters. So that should be coming out later this year. My company Suburban Skies pictures is also prepping a few different feature projects that could be made in a similar micro-production way to how we did Sunset Rock – they’re all in development and casting right now, so we’ll see which one is ready to go first and we’ll roll with that. So we’re not stopping any time soon. We’re just going to keep telling stories, and hopefully someone will be there to watch!
Massive thank you to Marc for chatting with us and all that leaves us to say is good luck with Sunset Rock Marc and now go check it out folks.
Sunset Rock (Update 12/12/2016)
We’ve just had the news that the movie is now available from Amazon, this is great news for those of you who would love to see the movie, although it only seem to be on the US site of Amazon at the moment.
We’ve also had the brilliant news from Marc Wilkinson that the team have just finished principle photography up in Michigan on their second feature film, Honeycrisp, “the story of two estranged sisters with a turbulent past who meet up to clean out their suddenly deceased parents cabin and repair – or end – their relationship“, starring Megan St. John, Heather Call, & Keenan Odenkirk! Marc has promised us that we will be able to get hold of the trailer, which should be out in January, for the new feature. So keep your eyes peeled for that one folks.