'My mom bought some property in Hemet and I went with her and I was like, 'Who the hell lives in Hemet?' I thought it was the weirdest little town in no-man's land. It looked like such a cool place to base a movie," says Ari Davis, writer and director of Out of Hemet, an independent short film premiering Saturday, March 26, at the Museum of Contemporary of Art San Diego, La Jolla. Davis, together with fellow California State University San Marcos students Matt Forsyth and Neal Lett, formed Brokenline Productions earlier this year. Out of Hemet is their first film. Forsyth is the art director, and Lett is the man behind the camera.
For five years before developing an interest in the entertainment industry, Davis was a professional surfer. After injuring his shoulder, he was forced to spend a year away from his board and lost his sponsors. "My best friend, Adam Brody [yes, the one on The O.C. ] and I decided to move up to L.A. and try acting." After two disappointing years in L.A., the 24-year-old Davis decided to go back to college. "For some reason, I just felt that I needed a four-year degree to be completely satisfied with myself." He is scheduled to graduate next month.
"I knew I wanted to write about the cliques I ran with in the world around me," says Davis. "I clicked on my iTunes, threw on some Postal Service, and ended up with my script three months later." The story centers on Kara (played by Eden Hatle), a young woman examining her romantic options and weighing her desire to leave her hometown as part of a struggle to discover what she wants out of life.
All shooting and editing was done digitally, allowing the 35-minute-long film to be made for far less than movies shot on film. The budget for four days of filming (not including scenes shot in L.A. and Hemet, which took an additional two days) was under $10,000. David Trump, the film's producer, fronted the money, and coproducer Mike Logan provided the studio-quality lighting. "Mike worked on Point Pleasant and other Fox shows," says Davis.
All members of the cast and crew volunteered their services. It was important to Davis that everyone involved in this film be from San Diego. Locals might recognize scenes at La Jolla Shores, La Fuente restaurant in Hillcrest, Morley Field, and the Berkshire Motel on El Cajon Boulevard. Davis lives in Hillcrest.
"We're all students," says Davis. "Between 17 units [course credits] and full-time jobs, it took us five months to finish editing the film." Davis is a "professional car parker," working valet at the UCSD hospital in Hillcrest. Forsyth is a waiter at the Four Seasons in Carlsbad, and Lett (the youngest of the three at 24) owns a car-detailing company. The filmmakers met through Tony Allard's video class at Cal State San Marcos. As we spoke, Davis, Forsyth, and Lett were taking turns riding in a shopping cart at their local Rite-Aid -- they were having their picture taken for the school paper.
"Casting the right people is hard," says Davis. "We'd pick someone and they would drop out or book something else. So many people said they were going to do stuff and didn't do it -- that was the hardest thing I dealt with, and it really sucked." Davis explains that it's easy to overlook the details. "Like getting your audio right. You think it's right after you shoot it the whole day, and then the sound is horrible and you have to bring the actors in to do voiceovers, and then you have to match it up with their lips."
Local bands provided the music used in the film, including Kut U Up, Off By One, Electric Umbilical Cord, Daize Shayne, and Plastic Explosive. Before screening the film on Saturday, two of these bands will perform 25-minute live sets. "The after-party is gonna be rad," says Davis of the post-premiere event scheduled for Moondoggies on Prospect Avenue. He hints that there will be celebrities in tow, along with "big Fox [television network] lights, DJs, wild girls, and wild animals." Someone is supposed to bring a monkey.
Hatle, who was asked by Davis over coffee to be the leading actress, is nervous for the big night. "This is the first thing I've ever done, aside from theater in Carlsbad from age three to nine," she says. Her biggest concern right now, other than completing her courses at the Gemological Institute of America, is to find the right outfit to wear to the premiere. -- Barbarella
Film premiere: Out of Hemet
Saturday, March 26
Museum of Contemporary Art
700 Prospect Street
Cost: $8 advance sale; $10 at the door
Info: 858-454-3541 or www.brokenlineproductions.com/