INDIE movie Spotlight: Come Together

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In my never ending quest to view and review all the movies in the world, I can’t forget about the flicks that get released under the radar. That’s right my friends, I’m talking about Indie films.

These low budget and often underfunded ventures give up and coming actors their first big break (George Clooney’s early career had him starring in Return of the Killer Tomatoes) and can also become cult classics like Night of the Living Dead.

 So we at RollinSD decided to give these risk-taking filmmakers some much needed publicity in getting their films out to the public. This is my first of many “INDIE movie Spotlight” articles to come that will give Rollers a synopsis of the indie film and also include a small Q&A with the directors behind the movies.

 Now reviewing a true independent film takes a little more understanding of moviemaking. These guys aren’t strapped with hundred million dollar budgets so talent can be hard to come by and most likely you won’t be watching cutting edge special effects. All you should be looking for is the basics in moviemaking, which is story and character. You just hope the story works and the characters are not too poorly performed.

So for the first of many to come. Enjoy.

Come Together (2008) Directed by:  Charles Unger

 Synopsis: (Provided by Come Together Film)

 Come Together is an independent sexy comedy based on a true story about seven, wild, college students who spend the night together in a Hollywood Hills mansion, on the eve of their graduation. They escape from the pressures of final exams, job interviews and family, only to realize that the real drama is right under their own roof. Personalities clash and bodies merge as this all-night party reaches its climax. Strangers become friends, and enemies become lovers when each one confronts their fears, desires, addictions and dreams.

 Interview with Writer and Director Charles Unger

 Today we’re joined by Come Together director Charles Unger who has taken the time to hang out with us at RollinSD. He has been dabbling in film since the young age of twelve and with multiple projects on the horizon; he shows no signs of slowing down.   

 Xtra Butter: I’ve spoken to many writers and directors in Hollywood and I always love to hear about their inspiration for doing a particular project. For me, Come Together reminds me of an 80’s throwback to something like The Breakfast Club. You have a group of students who find themselves trapped in one location and have no choice but to bond. But in this movie you added two chicks, a naked stripper in a window and even some love making. Suddenly you got a story that plays out more like a dude’s fantasy. So what inspired you to make Come Together over any other ideas you had floating around your imagination?

 Charles Unger: I’d like to say that I was inspired to make Come Together because of the idea alone but that is not simply true. I write scripts to direct them because I see myself more as a filmmaker than a writer or a director. In other words, Come Together was an idea I had that I knew could be done with very little money and that was a major thing that attracted me to the project. However, I will tell you how it all began. Way back in ’93, I knew that I wanted to do a party film, so I just started writing party scenes that all took place under one roof, in a short time period. Years later, I decided that the LA Riots, based on my own experiences, should be the background and the reason why they all come together in the first place. I liked the idea of doing a twist on how horror movies all have 4 or 6 people trapped in a cabin out in the woods. Since there was a curfew during the riots, I used that as a device to keep all of these college kids there. And to address the earlier part of your question too. Yes, The Breakfast Club was a huge influence, so was American Graffiti, Risky Business, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Singles, The Big Chill and even Saint Elmo’s Fire. I basically researched a lot of ensemble movies with college or high school kids and yes, I was influenced by raunchy early eighties comedies, but this film also draws upon other films too. Just like other filmmakers, I’m first a film fanatic!

 Xtra Butter: Very cool…Your movie was well put together and the editing was clean. So you obviously had some experience in this arena. What other film projects have you edited, and is there anything the Rollers out there might be familiar with?

 Charles Unger: Thanks for the editing compliment. After film school I got lucky!  I was working on a feature, in post-production, that went UNION and I got immediately drafted into the Editor’s Guild. For years after that, I worked as an assistant editor and eventually editor on feature films and TV shows, while I wrote screenplays that I could produce with very little money. I was the primary editor on Farrah’s Story, which was about the late, beauty queen and her battle with cancer. I also edited Shatner In Concert, which followed “Captain Kirk” through various songs, in concert, that appear on his CD, Has Been. I’ve also done some sound work on John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars and Village of the Damned. Check out my IMDB page (Here) for a full list of all my credits. My day job is editing but I’ve always been fascinated by all aspects of filmmaking, camera, sound, art direction and of course, writing. A long time ago, I realized that editing was the most cinematic of the arts, unlike writing, set design or cameras that are their own arts. I was determined to not only learn more about editing but to apply that knowledge to my feature films. I’ve always said that the editor in me, makes the director in me, look good!

 Xtra Butter: I have to tell you, I also enjoyed your directing skills as well. It was clean and you didn’t waste any shots, which so many new directors tend to do. I’m a huge Michael Mann fan, and if I could have anybody’s skills behind the camera it would be his. Who are some of the directors you admire and base some of your style after?

 Charles Unger: Thanks also for the directing compliment. I believe the economy of shots is very important in telling a story. As a director and an editor, you have to have an internal rhythm within a cut and between the cuts. I had to keep the story moving and in editing you learn to “trim the fat.” There were several scenes that we had to cut in order to bring the film in at its current length. We shot a 124 page script which is insane for an independent film. However, I got the coverage I needed so that I could cut it down without being locked into any long sequences. In other words, I stayed away from one-take masters and always knew that I could cut the scene down as much as I needed. The first cut was two hours and forty minutes, so yeah, it was a lot of work. However, I believe the economy of shot design starts in pre-production. I hand drew over 2000 storyboards so I’d be prepared. I also admire Michael Mann greatly, Heat (1995) is one of my favorite movies of all time. I remember being blown away in the cinema when I saw it. Wow, great directors, where do I start? I must admit that Star Wars (1977) got me to become a filmmaker. Shortly after discovering that it was a filmmaker that made that film, I became a big Lucas fan, then Spielberg fan, then a Coppola fan, Scorsese, ect. I have basically studied the new American Masters in great detail. I think the New Hollywood era of 1967 – 1980, was one of the greatest periods of film in the past forty years!

 Xtra Butter: I have to agree, well said. Now I would safely guess that the two main hotties in this movie, Vanessa Gomez and Marisa Sullivan, wore bikinis 70% of the time. I can’t complain about that. And the slow motion shots of Vanessa Gomez taking off her robe and revealing that two-piece bikini….Nicely done. When casting Come Together you had to find two hot ladies to play the characters of Angelina and Susan. How did you go about casting those two roles and making sure they would look great on the screen in a bikini?

 Charles Unger: The casting of both Vanessa Gomez as “Angelina” and Marisa Sullivan as “Susan” was extremely important to this film. I knew from the very beginning that if I didn’t find very hot girls, the story would not work. I felt that if a guy was going to make it with his best friend’s girl, then she had better be very good-looking or the motivation would feel forced. We found Marisa through a friend of a friend and Vanessa was a total surprise. IN both cases, they came in to read for us in a casting audition and blew us away. We’ve included clips of their audition in our DVD extras. As far as the slow motion shots, well, that was something that my DP, Eric Billman, and I were excited about, but not for the reasons you might think. We shot on the Panasonic HVX-200 camera, with the P2 cards.  Up to that point, I’d never shot in digital, slow motion, and when we did it, it looked great. In film slow motion shots, you always see the shutter but in digital it’s completely clean and wow, what an image it was! OH and I should also mention that ALL of the casting was very important, we got some great, talented people in this film and it would not have been the same without them. They say that casting is something like 80% of your work as a director, and I totally believe that. It’s so amazing to see actors take your work and bring it to life!

 Xtra Butter: Totally agree with you there about the acting. The actors/actresses make the words of the script come alive and if it’s not done correctly the movie could totally miss its mark. Are there any other film projects you have coming up that we should keep an eye out for?

 Charles Unger: I have another film like Come Together in development. I also have a low budget, science-fiction film, as well as a very personal film about a road trip that I took with my brother. However, right now, I’m working with my producing partner/wife Paula Unger, on her brand, franchise project called; The Punky Pets. The Punky Pets are eight, animated characters from around the world that come together to play music and form a band. We have produced T-shirts, plush toys, buttons, stickers and several animation videos as well as music videos. We are an official sponsor of this summer’s Vans Warped Tour. I’m currently shooting and editing; “Who Are The Punky Pets”, which is a series of promos that promote the Vans Warped Tour, The individual bands and our brand, The Punky Pets. I’m also currently doing the film festival circuit with our Punky Pets short film; “International Icon.” It’s been given awards at Houston-Worldfest Film Festival, Canada Film Festival and we’ve screen in many others.

 Xtra Butter: Cool, well Charles keep-up the great work and I hope we get the opportunity to do this again in the future with another film. As they say in the industry, “break a leg”.

 Charles Unger: Thanks again.   

 Xtra Butter: Come Together is a comedy indie that comes to us from Indican Pictures and UNGER FILMS. It’s won multiple awards including The Silver Ace Award at the Las Vegas Film festival and The Platinum Reel Award at the Nevada Film Festival. The film may also be available for release soon on Netflix, so be sure to go to Netflix (Here) and save it in your queue. If you Rollers want more information on Come Together check them out at their official website!  Come Together Film 

***Xtra Butter now has an official profile on facebook Xtra Butter! Check him out and drop a friend request to stay in touch and up to date on all reviews.

John is a badass motha fucka

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