Next month, Max Walker-Silverman of Telluride will premiere his feature debut, “A Love Song,” at the Sundance Film Festival, home to independent American cinema and a dream come true for him and his film crew. filming.
“This movie is very independent and very American, so we hope it will be a proud part of that tradition,” Walker-Silverman said.
In recent years, Walker-Silverman and his film crew – a mix of friends and colleagues from Telluride and New York, where he attended NYU Film School and graduated with a graduate degree in scriptwriting and directing – found ways to reinvent the iconic west. in a softer light.
“Our larger mission is to share stories of gentle people in difficult places and to dig a deep well in a particular place that is here, where we live,” he explained.
“A Love Song” features two childhood sweethearts – now both widowers – who get together for an evening by a lake in the mountains. The film is about loneliness, rebirth, the search for beauty in small things and asks the question: “What is love when it is not shared with anyone?”
Walker-Silverman not only wrote the film for his location in Telluride, but also specifically for legendary actors Dale Dickey and Wes Studi, as they strike him as “rare, genuine people – real people.”
“These are characters who were barely allowed to fall in love in the movies,” he explained. “Or experience love. I hope it will be pleasantly honest and beautiful to see people like this having romance on screen.
The film, Walker-Silverman added, is contemporary and “painted with a surreal brush,” which he hopes will help audiences relax and trust a “strange and beautiful new world.” He points out that there is an “anachronistic nature” in some of the characters who are irrelevant and timeless, as are many Westerners.
“I hope we’ve captured a portrait of some of the beloved and sweet eccentrics and eccentrics who inhabit this place and who make life here richer and more textured,” he noted.
The film’s producer, Jesse Hope, also a native of Telluride, worked as a producer for the two previous Walker-Silverman shorts, which were shot locally and released worldwide: “Lefty Righty” (2018), on a cowboy and his daughter. , screened at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, a prestigious short film festival; and “True Boys of Summer” (2019), which features local Guatemalan men and won the jury prize at South by Southwest.
“We learned a lot from this movie,” Walker-Silverman said. “Because the scale of a feature film production is in many ways similar to the shorts we’ve made – a small crew, a small cast, revolving around Norwood – we’ve done all of these things before. But there is an architecture that needs to be built around a feature because there are more business considerations and we’ve had a lot of help with all of that.
While Walker-Silverman wrote, produced, directed and edited the feature film, he said he has come to love the writing and the routine it brings the most.
“Plus, I really love being on set because it’s so weird, unpredictable and fun,” he added.
Walker-Silverman and Hope both credit many local people in the field who helped with the film, including their two mothers – Lindsey Walker, who was production manager, and Robin Hope, who was the accountant – as well as a host of others donated rooms, a dog, brought food or costumes, and volunteered their time.
The film was shot over four weeks in fall 2020 in Norwood, primarily at Miramonte Reservoir, and features recurring shots of Lone Cone and cameos from a rowdy group of locals. Because the movie was shot during COVID, the crew and cast – around 12 people in total – lived and operated in a highly controlled and protective bubble.
“We were totally dependent on our friends and neighbors and the good citizens of Norwood and Telluride to provide everything,” Walker-Silverman said.
“Everyone was quarantined and there were serious and regular testing requirements. The medical centers have been so kind to welcome our entire crew, ”added Hope.
Since Sundance is also a film market, Walker-Silverman will explore distribution and business opportunities for the film in the future, including an appearance at the Berlin Film Festival in mid-February.
“I want to express my gratitude to the towns of Telluride and Norwood, and to all of the people who took care of us, showed us interest and supported us,” he said. “We think the film is the result of all the best parts of small town living, and we hope these communities are proud of it.”
According to the Associated Press, 82 feature films will screen this year at Sundance, out of more than 3,700 submissions. “A Love Song” will premiere on January 20 at the Library Center Theater in Park City, Utah.