This past weekend, I attended the 6th Annual Key West Film Festival in that paradisiacal, southernmost city of the continental United States. My short film, The Promotion, was playing as part of the festival's Florida Short Film Program. I was of course there to represent my own short film but I was also there to take in some of the feature selections that the festival had to offer.
Of particular interest to me was a feature film, Love in Youth, written, produced and directed by my friend and Key West Film Festival director, Quincy Perkins. It was his debut narrative feature film (after seven documentaries to his name) and the first narrative feature film shot entirely in Key West. I was impressed with the film's trailer months before (posted below) and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to catch its world premiere at one of the festival's quality venues. The film follows Heather (Heather DeVoe) as she explores first love with Eric (Ricardo Montero), who beyond being the object of her deep affection, involves her in his unlawful habit of stealing from unlocked cars in a parking garage. But soon, a more threatening facet to their relationship than their risky criminal enterprise reveals itself - in Eric's desire to consummate their love; something Heather is not quite ready to do. It is an enchanting film. The story is clear, well-paced and constantly both developing and enveloping. The performances from the two nascent, incredibly talented leads are intensely naturalistic and their dialogue never falls into the category of rhetorical point-making. And owing to writer/producer/director Quincy Perkins' extensive background as a documentary filmmaker, the proceedings are captured with a distinct documentarian's eye for the behavior and faces of its actors, who are the singular focus of the piece. During the Q&A after the screening, Mr. Perkins mentioned how the actors' honest registration of their thoughts in scenes through their eyes alone were all that was needed at times. Indeed, there is a moment in the film I won't soon forget where a mere extended blink says all you need to know about a character's intense feeling and desire. This sort of directorial astuteness calls to mind a famous quote by legendary director John Ford, "What can we shoot? The most interesting and exciting thing in the whole world: a human face." All of this is part of an overall refreshing and undoubtedly strategic spareness to the film that I absolutely admired. This approach also likely informed the interesting and effective choice of not having a musical score at all. By insisting on the frank and unmelodramatic, Mr. Perkins smartly avoids cloying sentimentality with a film that could have easily become so by balancing the currents of a love story with a confidently austere approach in the filmmaking. And the results are utterly sublime! Something must be said about the nature of the film's production. It was referred to as a "no-budget" film by the filmmakers and shot on easily accessible technology with minimal, minimal crew. It also relied on the surrounding Key West community, both local businesses and individuals, to enable much of what is seen on screen in terms of locations and extras. All of these characteristics make my filmmaker heart sing because it is all a testament to my own core values of thriftiness and resourcefulness. Major studios spend millions of dollars to capture the kind of cinematic magic Mr. Perkins has here for an infinitesimal fraction of the cost. Most impressive and inspiring! If you're interested in a youthful love story amid a unique seaside setting and paired with refreshing form and style, find Quincy Perkins' Love in Youth. The film is kicking off its festival run and seeking distribution at the moment, but with all of the artistic and storytelling bravado it has going for it, I have no doubt it'll be picked up and spread far and wide.
Congratulations to my friend, Quincy Perkins, on his accomplishment with the film and to two other friends of mine, Aramis and Loyda Ikatu, for their crucial work on the film!
(Left to right: Ricardo Montero, Gabriel Rhenals, Quincy Perkins and Heather DeVoe)