What if one decision tipped off the adventure of a lifetime? In Brett Simon’s new indie film we are taken on a journey of one guys dream of helping his grandpa and trying to save the love of his life in the process. Life does’t always go the way we plan, but if you get into trouble you “Better Start Running”. Brett Simon the director tells us what it’s like being a filmmaker and telling this story.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Brett Simon, the director of Better Start Running.
What attracted you to this story?
I’m drawn to misguided dreamers, harebrained schemes, frustrated desires, and broken dreams. Why else would I become a filmmaker?
What were some of the challenges with shooting on set?
Shooting in and around cars is always tough. There are a limited number of angles and the spaces are tight. But there’s also something inspiring about the limitations, and the gifts of the outside world that appear in the windows, the weather, the lighting. Everything was shot with real driving, no process trailer, which I think gives the sense that anything can happen. Especially since the very talented Alex Sharp only had his driver’s permit. There’s an intimacy to working in such small spaces. Often I was hiding in the back under a wool blanket wedged between a tire jack and the first AC.
Do you have any fun moments on set you'd like to share?
The day we shot in Cave City, the cast and crew stayed in the Wigwam Village, that motel made of giant concrete teepees. We had a bon fire sing along and for a moment it felt like we were all really on a road trip together. Jeremy, Alex, and Analeigh all play instruments and have incredible voices. I play the tambourine—poorly.
There were certain scenes that were very colorful, was that intentional?
There was a very deliberate control of the color palette that mostly came from the locations, time of day, of practical (the lights in the world that are already there) lights. I wanted the first act to have no sunlight at all, to have the palette dominated by the garish primary colors and sterile overhead lighting of the big box store. That first morning on the road, is our first glimpse of sunlight, the colors are faded and warm. More human. Our heroes open their eyes and know immediately that they aren’t in Kansas anymore. The last scenes in the motel have the most “movie lighting.” After such a rag-tag journey, I wanted to give our heroes a glimpse of the Hollywood story they wanted to be part of. Harley and Steph get a romantic scene, lit by the pink neon arrows of the motel. Garrison gets a more film noir showdown. The visuals are finally in synch with their dreams.
How long did it take you to create the film? From pre to post?
Once we had the green light, it took about a year from preproduction to post. Getting that green light took just a little longer.
Do you think it's harder now to sell a film and have an audience see it?
I think there will always be a hunger for human stories. The road story is as old as stories themselves. At this moment, film has to ask itself what its role in the world will be. I still believe that something unique happens when an audience watches a film together in a dark theater with the cell phones turned off, and no ability to change the channel. I’m still affected by a contained story in a way that’s different from serial stories like on TV. But the world does seem more serial, more fragmented, less focused. That’s actually one of the themes of the film. Our heroes are just chased by the FBI. They are chased by the big box store, the faceless franchise—like all westerns there’s a subplot of “civilization” taking over the frontier and the question arises: are we better off? Has Amazon made our lives better? What about Amazon Prime? Ironically, the digital big box stores are now the greatest patrons of movies and TV. This is a strange time to be alive.
If you could only bring five items with you on the run what would you bring?
The basics: advil, water, cash, good music, and a fake mustache.
Where would run off to if there were no limits on where you could go?
Somewhere with universal health care and art house movie theaters where my family and friends could safely visit.