Inside the making of Buy Roses for Me, a new short film inspired by San Diego's art scene
Unlike Los Angeles and New York, San Diego has never been a major backdrop for movies. Really, our claim to fame when it comes to cinema really boils down to maybe half of Almost Famous, every terribly played out scene in Anchorman, and... I guess Paranormal Activity and all cross-border trafficking action films ever. What neither of those movies actually tell, though, is our story.
So, how do you begin to encapsulate the authentic San Diego experience? Not the never-ending sensationalism of the border dynamic, or the perpetually chill vibe often portrayed of our beachside city, but the actual San Diego: the neighborhoods, the social scenes, the stereotypes, and the people. The artsy folk of North Park's connivingly hip corners; the hollow nightlife ragers who infest the streets of Gaslamp; the lost transplants who funnel in each year like stray cats trying to find a home. They all serve as cogs to keep the city moving. So who's telling their story?
Enter, Adam Anderson.
Anderson is a young filmmaker based out of San Diego and founder of Giant Face Films, who––for the past few years––has been working diligently on changing the way San Diego is being depicted in world of film. Whether it's taking inspiration from the stories he sees play out around him, or capturing scenes that only a local would marvel at in its familiarity, Anderson has used the beauty of his region to create what he considers the beginning of something bigger: the true San Diego film.
With the upcoming release of short film and prologue Buy Roses for Me, Anderson sets the stage for his eventual feature by introducing an assortment of characters that all take their cues from different facets of the city, in turn inviting the world into our slice of California. Shot and developed over the course of a few years, the short will finally be making its premiere at Digital Gym this weekend, setting the motion for Anderson's overall vision. To learn more about the short and the eventual feature film, we spoke with Anderson regarding the his ideas, the mission of the film, and more. Read below.
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How did the idea for the short first come into fruition?
Buy Roses for Me was originally established as a feature-length film. It was intended to be a coming-of-age story that took place in San Diego. As we went through the development process, myself and my co-producer Christopher Holloway came to the conclusion that we should produce something that stood as an introduction to the world we were building, as well as a proof-of-concept for the feature we were ultimately working towards. We initially shot three separate short films, but ended up weaving them together into the "ultimate" version we have now.
The film captures many elements of San Diego that other pieces of media haven't even begin to cover, including our music scene and our art scene. What about these aspects of San Diego did you feel was worth touching on?
Because San Diego County is so expansive, there was a long back and forth on what areas we wanted to have represented in our story. We ended up turning most of our attention to the mid-city areas of San Diego, because we felt that the communities that were growing in those areas had the most relevance to our story. In order to have the different facets of the art scene represented in an engaging way, we tailored our story so each character is supposed to be a representation of a particular "aspect" or "scene" of San Diego.
One of the prime examples is the Frank character and his S.D. Ragerz project. His motives and intentions were our way of representing the San Diego nightlife, while also keeping its presentation unique and engaging. Jon Allen, who plays Frank, was also able to bring his own brand of humor to the role, which brought that aspect of San Diego to life in a way we didn't expect.
“Seeing first-hand the efforts that local artists, galleries, and event organizers have put into San Diego's art scene has had an immense impact on this story. “
My favorite part of the short is that neither group within the movie, be it the art curators or the SD Ragerz founder, seem without their faults. Both come across pompous at times and very sincere at times. Is there anything you see reflective of that in our city?
The three main characters (Julian, Caroline, and Rachel) are all artists/creators that seek to find meaning and purpose to their work through the interactions they have with their community. Seeing first-hand the efforts that local artists, galleries, and event organizers have put into San Diego's art scene has had an immense impact on this story. All of that translated into the characters and their motives in a way I felt was representative of San Diego artist circles. Lemme tell ya - it's not black and white around these parts, and there's definitely a lot more grey area than people realize.
Was there an overall objective behind the project?
Being a San Diego native that's spent the last 15 years listening to people quote Anchorman - I wanted to depict San Diego in a way that we felt was different and unique from all the other films that have been based in San Diego. Through the development process, I realized that setting the story within the context of a San Diego art collective reinforced the character's arcs in a stronger way, and also allowed us to delve even further into a slice of local lifestyle that made the story a lot more fun.
What's in store for the future of the short?
After our Digital Gym screening, we're hoping to get it into some film festivals around the country. Past that, we're currently in pre-production for the feature film that continues the events of the short. We had a lot of fun filming this prologue, and hope we get the chance to continue this story.
Buy Roses for Me premieres at Digital Gym this Saturday at 7pm, along with a Q&A with the cast and crew. You can buy a ticket to the screening here.