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Unfinished: An online zine with no expecations at all

Chris Fuller
Chris Fuller is the writer/director of the coming of age film Loren Cass. Currently in pre-production, the film is described as, "a gritty tale of growing up and fading out. The film follows Cale, Nicole, and Jason through a few weeks of alcohol abuse and loneliness as they struggle to find what's missing. They're jonesing." I was able to sit down and ask Chris a few questions through email. Here's the result...

Hugh: Hey Chris, thanks again for taking the time out to answer some questions for the site. I've been fascinated with Loren Cass ever since I heard about it in 2002. I'm a pretty huge fan of coming of age films, primarily because I'm coming of age myself (I'm only 16). Not only that, but there are just some marvelous films that have come out of that genre, and I think your film could quite possibly be one of those. Where did you grow up, and how would you describe your teenage years?

Chris: Not a problem at all.  Yeah, I started writing this film when I was about your age so I definitely know where you're coming from.  I was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the film takes place. I'm not really sure about the teenage years thing, it was probably painfully average, and that's kind of what the story was born out of.  We spent most of our time just drinking and hanging out and trying not to think about anything, really.  For those that know the area, we spent many-a-night at Northshore Park and other places in the general Northeast area.  I actually lived on the other side of town though, but I doubt anyone knows what the fuck I'm talking about...

H: What is the current status of the film? When do you think you will begin
filming, and in what locations?

C: Right now we're stuck in the financing stages, like most films, but things are definitely moving along.  As of now we're aiming to shoot in March in St. Pete.  We'll be all over town, a couple key places would be Northshore Park (I think it's actually called Vinoy Park) and the Skyway Bridge.

H: How do you plan to release the film? I remember reading somewhere on the website that you would attempt to have it screened in a limited amount of theaters, and then have it released on VHS and/or DVD. Correct me if I'm wrong.

C: Yeah we're going to hit the film festival circuit and meet with distributors and see what we can arrange.  We'd love any sort of theatrical release, of course the wider the better.  But regardless, even in a worst-case-scenario, you'll be able to find VHS and DVD copies somewhere.

H: Underground music plays a key role in the film. Bands such as Jawbreaker & Dillinger Four. seem to have had a huge effect on you and an endless amount of teenagers across the world. Ironically, Jawbreaker is my favorite band of all time. The Bivouac LP is probably my favorite record ever. Dillinger Four has some good tunes as well. You obviously have very good taste in music. What is it that really hits you about the two bands that I have mentioned, and what are your favorite albums by them?

C: Yeah they definitely had a huge effect on me and a lot of the people I knew growing up.  They're amazing bands.  What I probably enjoyed the most is the grassroots, self-educating, working class sort of theme behind their music. No bullshit.  The film is about these three kids and the music is just what fits these people and the story and had a huge influence on what I was writing.  I want the film to have a certain mood and that's why the soundtrack will primarily be instrumental sections of Dillinger Four/Jawbreaker songs. I didn't want it to be a fucking punk rock commercial and I didn't want a million different bands and songs on the soundtrack, I'm just sticking to what's good and what my primary influences were.  Obviously the music is something that's important to the story and these people but the film is definitely not about music or punk rock itself.

H: There are a number of cameos in the film, such as Chris Bauermeister from Jawbreaker and James Bowman from Against Me. Did the plans to have Blake Schwarzenbach & Adam Pfahler in the film fall through?  How much of a thrill is it to be able to work with some of your greatest inspirations and to have their music featured in your film?

C: I'm still talking with Blake and Adam, they're busy guys.  I know that I'd like Adam and his sister Kembra to have small roles but with them it pretty much just depends on their respective schedules.   If they're free I think they'll do it.  As for Blake, I know he's aware of the film and has a copy of the script and all, it's just a matter of getting in touch with him to discuss things and see if it's something he wants to be personally involved in.   Of course I'd love to have him.  My original wish list was Blake, Ben Weasel, and Aaron Cometbus, all of whom we're still trying to confirm. But like you mentioned we got some great folks coming down like Chris Bauermeister, James Bowman, Blag Dahlia, John Holmstrom, Marcus Koch, and others, like Mike Vallely and possibly Chris Raab.  It's definitely a thrill
to possibly meet and hang out with people whose work has affected me. Frankly I'm surprised they return my phone calls. I was expecting to be told to go fuck myself, but it never happened from any of these guys.  As you find out they're just people and generally really cool people.

H: What are some of your favorite films, and who are your film inspirations (directors, screenwriters, actors, etc)?

C: There are so many.  Off the top of my head 'The 400 Blows' is an amazing inspiration.  'Raging Bull'.  Truffaut, Godard, Scorcese, DeNiro, Jarmusch, Linklater, and so on.  I've been absorbing as much as I can of the film world for so long now I start to forget about who/what I like and focus on what I intend on doing with my own films, if that makes any sense.

H: It often turns out that films with unknown actors turn out to be some of the best. I'm looking at the cast list that has been announced so far, and aside from the cameos, I haven't heard of any of the core actors? Can you describe the cast, and how you found them?

C: We're still in the casting process but we've been holding auditions throughout Florida and are looking for primarily unknown local talent. Other than the fact that, to us, it's more interesting and there is a lot less assumed, we quite frankly wouldn't be able to get very big 'name actors' to appear in a film like this one, for financial and creative reasons.

This is a film that came straight from your heart. You began work on the script when you were fifteen. How close and personal are the film and the characters to your own personal experiences. A lot of writers think of their projects like their own children. This looks like a prime example of that. How much has the script changed since it first originated?

C: It's definitely something that's been with me for a long time.   The themes are personal and there are aspects of me in each character, but it's not particularly autobiographical, it's just a combination of things I learned, saw, heard, experienced, was influenced by, etc.  I'm definitely close to this film and can't wait to get started and get it out there for people to experience, but I do have other ideas and projects that I'm working on.  A lot of times you'll see people come out with a fantastic, personal, honest, amazing debut, and then fall off because that's all they had to say or that's all they focused on.  I'm definitely developing other things and won't be disappearing after "Loren Cass."  As for the script itself, it's evolved a lot, it basically grew up with me and if you saw the very first draft that I wrote when I was 15 it doesn't look very much like what the script is now.   I think part of developing good material is allowing it to grow and change.

H: What are you listening to these days?

C: Ha, still a lot of D4 and Jawbreaker. Against Me, Bombshell Rocks, Lawrence Arms, Breaking Spree, Leatherface, A Radio With Guts, Flogging Molly, Leftover Crack, Screeching Weasel.

Are there any films that have recently been released, or are soon to be released in the future (besides your own) that you are extremely excited to see?

C: I really enjoy P.T. Anderon's work.

H: What is your advice to aspiring writers and film-makers?

C: Shit, I don't know, I guess I'm technically still aspiring myself.  Just dedicate yourself to what you want to do, pound and pound until it happens. You really have to go after something obsessively if you want to not only get where you want to be, but have something new and different once you get there.

H: Would you consider the fact that this film is being made a cinderella story of some sort? It sounds like it has been through some very interesting times filled with blood, sweat, tears, and a lot of endless work.

C: Yeah maybe, I guess we won't really know until we see what happens in the distribution phase after the film is complete.

H: What do you hope to accomplish with this film, and what are your plans after it is finished?

C: I can't really ask for much more other than the opportunity to get my film out there and have a lot of people see it and experience it.  But if I could I'd definitely like to pay all my investors back and be successful enough to have an easier time getting my next film off the ground.

Any final thoughts?

C: Just keep an eye on for updates on our progress.

Special thanks to The Complete Jawbreaker Page for the picture.

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