Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A chat with writer/director Jason Michael Brescia about his new indie feature “Bridge and Tunnel”

The Crew Scene had an opportunity to catch up with filmmaker Jason Michael Brescia as he just wrapped his second feature "Bridge and Tunnel" - a cynical comedy that follows a group of friends in their twenties transitioning into various aspects of adulthood.

Congrats on wrapping your second feature! How was the creative and production process different for “Bridge and Tunnel” than it was for “The Newest Pledge”, seeing as “Bridge and Tunnel” is a comedy with more serious undertones?

Thank you. I think the biggest difference between the creative processes that went into the making of “The Newest Pledge” and “Bridge and Tunnel” came from age and experience. I began writing “The Newest Pledge” as a college senior, and I was only twenty three years old when the film wrapped. Looking back on it I was just a college kid who wrote about when he knew and had no “real world” experience. In the period in between wrapping “The Newest Pledge” and going into production on “Bridge and Tunnel” I spent two years gaining some really unique life experiences that I feel carried the project through its creative development. 

You’ve talked about how you came home from California - I’m sure high off of the success of your first film and it struck you how much the people and town changed. For most of us who have moved away, come back to changes and we usually write it off as a sucky part of adulthood. What was it about this homecoming that inspired you to write “Bridge and Tunnel”?

Actually, when I came home from California there was little success to be “high off of.” I moved back to Long Island in February 2011 but The Newest Pledge” didn’t get a distribution deal until February 2012. The period of time in between my move and the sale of the film was an incredibly difficult one for not only me, but for the entire team that helped put “The Newest Pledge” together. The difficulties and dilemmas of self-worth that I was going through helped me to empathize with my peers who were going through their own, slightly more common twenty-something problems. I didn’t return home and look down on my friends with financial issues, debt, relationship problems, unemployment, and a general feeling of being lost; I was one of them.

The man himself - writer/director Jason Brescia

During the writing process, you mentioned that there were certain issues that you didn’t realize affected our generation until you were doing research for the film. What were those issues and how did they affect how you developed your characters?

I think my generation was given a road map to success at a young age. Graduate high school, don’t join a gang, don’t do drugs, go to college, practice safe sex, perhaps enroll in some sort of graduate, legal, or medical program, and a shiny six figure job would be waiting for you at the end of the rainbow. But over the course of our young lives so many things have changed; we were teenagers on September 11th, 2001 and had to cope with that while also coping with other unrestrained teenage emotions. Many of us graduated high school and went off to fight in foreign wars we understood little about. Many of those not fighting overseas worked their butts off to get a college degree, and even took on mounds of student debt to get an education fit for our society, only to have the entire global economy go into a tailspin in late 2008, when many of us were either young professionals, or just graduating college. It’s been a unique life for those of us born in the 1980’s, and Bridge and Tunnel isn't the sort of film that’s going to cry or complain about it, it’s simply going to show you what life is like for some of us.

Which character do you connect with the most? Did you draw on your own experiences for that particular character?

All of the characters in the script come from some part of me. I love and hate all of them equally.

The cast on set

How will audiences connect with the characters and their struggles while trying to settle into adulthood?

There are certain moments for all of the characters that I believe many, if not most audiences will be able to identify with. These characters won’t be up for beatification anytime soon, but many of their struggles, temptations, and vices are entirely human and there’s something striking about that, even when it’s presented as a comedy.

One situation you couldn't escape while filming on Long Island was Superstorm Sandy. Were you able to incorporate the effects of Sandy into the film?

“Bridge and Tunnel” takes place over the year 2012, so naturally Sandy plays a pivotal role in the story. We shot a scene in Long Beach, New York amidst some of the wreckage, and it was a very sobering experience for the cast, crew, and me. As a Long Island native I’m still getting used to some of the effects the storm had on our home. It was weird this past Spring, watching as the trees bloomed and noticing a little less shade in certain places than there was the year before, or heading down to some of our favorite summer communities like Long Beach, Island Park, or Freeport, and noticing some of our favorite establishments have been destroyed. At some point we’ll plant new trees, open new restaurants, and build new boardwalks, but psychologically I’ll never forget those weeks.

You and your team were able to partially fund the film with a successful Indiegogo campaign with some pretty cool perks, I must say. What were your tactics in promoting the campaign in order to reach your goal?

I think the tactic that works best is to annoy everyone you know constantly until they’re eventually nice enough to give you some of their hard earned money. Then it’s your job to make sure whatever it is you’re trying to do doesn't suck, so that you can look these people in the eyes the rest of your life and not feel ashamed of some piece of crap you wasted their money on in exchange for a T-Shirt.

Now that you are in post, what are your next steps? What is your distribution strategy? Do you intend to screen theatrically?

Post production should be complete in late Fall 2013. I hope that the film is distributed in 2014, and a theatrical run, however small, would be something that I could never take for granted.

Another congrats on being the “Official Selection” of the 2013 Workers Unite Film Festival! What other festivals are you considering?

I haven’t thought too much about a festival strategy yet, though some of the other producers have been working on that for some time. I submitted our script to the 2013 Workers Unite Film Festival because I believed in what the festival stood for, and felt as though the characters in “Bridge and Tunnel” could relate to the foundation that the Workers Unite Film Festival was built on.

You have already had some success in indie film making. Your very first feature was screened at several festivals and distributed by Lionsgate. What do you say to other indie film makers trying to achieve even modest success?

If you want to go anywhere in the realm of indie film making you must first learn to love work and loathe sleep. Work hard. If you think you’re working hard then work harder because somewhere out there somebody you’ll probably never meet but might one day hear about is working harder than you to achieve the exact same goal that you’re working towards right now. Work harder than that person or get used to reading about them doing the things you always wished you’d be doing. Sleep less, make your day longer. If you think you’re getting the right amount of sleep then you’re sleeping too much. If you think you’re not sleeping well then don’t sleep at all. Sleep is for the weak. Coffee is your only real friend.

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