I was hesitant to review this movie because it is the one case where the filmmaker may actually get wind of my reviewing. Its easy to review somthing when there is no possible way the filmakers or author will ever read what you think of their work, or if by some miracle they do, they aren’t likely to give a crap. “What, Ando the amateur blogger didn’t like my movie? Let me wipe away the tears with this $100 bill I was using for a napkin while eating my lobster thermador flown in fresh from Main.”
Not that the maker of this movie, an indie of indies, would give a crap either, but if it so happened that he did it wouldn’t be outside the realm of possiblity to bump into him on the street and have to answer for myself face to face with the object of my scorn. That’s assuming of course that I gave the movie a bad review, which I will not necessarily be doing.
The movie is Dill, California, a story of love and life in small town California. The movie opens with the main character, Runner, sitting in his car trying to think of just the right words to pen in a Dear Jane letter to his longtime girlfreind Evelyn. Unable to come up with just the right words, he consults his buddies, always a wise proposition, who inform him that Evelyn thinks he’s going to propose. The rest of the day follows Runner seeking advice anywhere he can get it, whether from his kooky but sage grandfather, his eccentric and estranged father, or the aforementioned, less than helpful, and possibly nefarious, pals.
I was invited by a friend who is friends with the filmmaker, Alden Olmstead, a guy I have met once or twice, to a screening for friends and family at our local arthouse theater. I wasn’t really sure what to expect going in. As I mentioned, this is an indie film among indie films. Its basically a homemade movie, with friends of the writer/producer/directer/star filling all the acting roles as well as serving as the crew. As such, the production values and acting are a little, uh, not so good. The photography is actually pretty good and being filmed on 16mm film definitely fits the story and feel of the movie, which I would describe as an American Graffitti-ish movie made as a Christian film from the 70’s. The toughest part was the sound. There were portions, large portions, of dialoged scenes that resembled, admittedly by Olmstead, a kung-fu movie.
So that’s the bad, the production values. But the story had a lot of heart and the screenplay was better than a lot of the Hollywood schlock out there. There were some genuinely funny moments, such as Runner driving around town from the wrong side of the car, and the music was very good, some original some borrowed, and fit the scenes well. There is definitely a discernable style to the movie, a kind of…well, I’m having a hard time thinking of what to compare it to. Think of a coming-of-age, dramedy type movie. There were some good uses of flashbacks that were dramatic and interesting, and eccentric and funny small-town characters.
But for me, the best part of it was the fact that Alden (calling him Olmstead sounds weird, since I know him, a little, and I’m not a real reviewer) did it. He wants to make movies and the only way to make movies is to actually do it, whatever it takes. He wrote it, he paid for it, and all the equipment, he bugged his friends to help, and he did it. Now he’s submitting it to film festivals all over the country in the hopes that someone with some clout will see it and say, in Alden’s own words, “That wasn’t good, but if you have any other ideas…” The hope that someone will see a spark that they think they can help turn into a fire. That takes guts. I sent Alden an email after seeing the movie and told him that he has inspired me and is pretty much my hero now and I wasn’t joking. I’ve had ideas, just small ones, bouncing around in my head for a while, but I never do anything with them. Not for a feature film necessarily, but just a little someting fun to throw up on YouTube. It has to start somewhere, right? Aldens on his way and I’m anxious to see what the end of this story will be as well as the beginning his of next one.