What now has an original soundtrack started as a Davis County, Utah-based man thinking that he could convince his fellow citizens to volunteer to make a movie that would qualify for theaters.
Lucas McGraw spoke with me after he had pulled an all-nighter a few days earlier to prepare the film for a critics’ showing.
“I got it exported and went to bed – and then I got sick over the weekend,” McGraw said. “I probably overdid it.”
Before Your Time, courtesy of those volunteers, sees family members hunt for “La Desiderata” – Spanish for The Desired – as they struggle with grief and moving forward. It will run Oct. 21-26 at Kaysville Theatre, just 21 miles north of downtown Salt Lake City. The red-carpet premiere, complete with a red carpet and photographers, will be the evening of the 21st.
“It really is a movie,” Lucas McGraw remarked. ‘It evolved into a whole thing that has a theme and has a soundtrack. I’m blown away and I’m working on it.”
The group was called the Community Film Project. It only got a quarter of the donations it sought. Nonetheless, the film will be on the silver screen after 7 percent of the entire budget came from McGraw’s own pocket. Shooting ran from Aug. 2015 to June 2016 and a trailer showed during that time. Then along came the original soundtrack from Phil Stokes, which Lucas referred to more than once during our interview.
“It’s been a crazy journey, man. There’s been a lot of times where I thought ‘what the heck am I doing? I’m not getting paid for this,’” McGraw said. “We wanted to make something with heart and that was entertaining and I think we’ve accomplished that.”
“Normally, I would tell people ‘you can come if you want,’ but I’ve said, ‘you know what? It will be worth your time,” he added.
In the beginning
First, the film needed a script. So McGraw put out a call for a writers and a dozen folks auditioned. They chose Kayla Anderson, an AP English teacher from the local Davis High School. She opted on half of them as her assistants for the script. (I was one of them.)
“They helped us kind of see where (Anderson) had kind of fallen short in storytelling and what’s in her head, but also how others are interpreting the story,” McGraw said. “It was kind of cool to get others’ take on it.”
“(Anderson) was really good at handling everything and good at feedback,” McGraw said. “The first two months, we only talked about story and shaping character.”
McGraw, who films shorts by day, also ran the script by colleagues. It was originally 150 pages long when feature-length scripts are usually 90. It was cut to 110.
“Sometimes on paper, things look really good, but we’re in a film world, not a play world,” added McGraw, who I saw change lines on-set when I then volunteered as a production assistant. “As a director, you have to protect the performance.”
McGraw, who films shorts by day, specifically mentioned a wedding since in which he made improvisations.
A major challenge was “trying to wrangle each of the actors in their free time,” McGraw said. An editor also “hadn’t done as much as we had hoped,” McGraw added.
“The editing process was a long, arduous process,” he said.
Also, numerous pick-up shots had to be done and once Stokes provided a score, Lucas wanted “to do it justice.”
“We are doing a sound mix and a whole bunch of things that most people don’t think about when they are making small movies with their friends,” Lucas remarked.
The soundtrack is even being sold.
“The Community Film Project was developed to provide opportunities within the community to have a film-making experience and shape the community through the art of film,” McGraw said.
“How we are going to do that is we are basically going to provide great experiences through great locations in the area.”
One in the film will be Kay’s Cross, a full-of-legend stone cross found at the base of a hollow in Kaysville. (One might say that some of the stories are quite bizarre.)
McGraw said he visited Astoria, Oregon because of the Richard Donner film Goonies.
“The community project could be something that brings something more to a park, a waterfall, a business,” he added. “And while doing that… you showcase local talent.”