When he was 13, Sean Fallon and his buddies were running around Saratoga making movies with a camcorder plugged into a VCR.
This summer, Sean Fallon and his wife and film making partner, Charlotte Barrett, will be running around Saratoga making movies again. Only this time they'll have high-def cameras, a professional crew and a cast that includes Bronson Pinchot (yep, Cousin Balki) , Paige Howard (Adventureland, daughter of actor/director Ron Howard) and Mika Boorem (Dawson's Creek, and a whole bunch of other stuff).
Sean and Charlotte wrote the script for Virgin Alexander -- their first feature film. They took time out from scouring garage sales and scouting locations to talk with AOA about the script, the cast, and shooting in Saratoga.
This is your first feature film, and you've attracted some relatively big names. How did that happen?
Charlotte: It's the script.
Sean: People have really responded to the script. I mean no one is dong this for the money (laughs). Actors and agents and investors have just kind flipped out over the script. And they're taking a chance because this is our first movie. But people have just loved the script and we wrote the script so they just kinda think we know what we're doing (laughs).
Charlotte: Paige Howard is a wonderful actress. She just has this very sincere quality. And Bronson is amazing. We saw him do Shakespeare in the Park when we were at NYU. He's just this amazing Yale trained actor. And Mika Boreem has been working since she was like seven. I remember when I was a teenager watching her on Dawson's Creek -- she had a six or seven episode story line as a girl who Katie Holmes' character was babysitting. I started talking to her at the first interview and thought, "Oh my god, its the girl from Dawsons Creek." (laughs)
It's really fantastic that we are attracting people who are seasoned in this industry who are excited to work on this project even though they're not getting paid that much.
What's the idea behind the script?
Sean: We moved to Henderson Nevada, outside of Vegas about a year and a half ago -- and Vegas has been hit hard by foreclosure and the housing market collapse. That idea of foreclosure and your life getting uprooted and everything you thought was the truth is suddenly gone was interesting to us.
Charlotte: And we thought it would be interesting to have the least capable person possible in that situation and that is definitely Alexander. It's not of his doing, he just finds himself in a situation. Alexander is a garbage man and he picks up pieces of other people's lives. We meet him on the worst day of his life -- and he gets this idea to run a brothel and it's a terrible idea. But it's a really sweet story. You think it's going to be about about one person not living his own life but as his walls come down he lets other people in. It's a really nice script. It's a fun little movie.
The script has been compared to Risky Business...
Charlotte: That's probably because of the brothel part... but that's not really what it's about.
So are you trying to distance yourself from that?
Sean: Nooooo. Risky Business was an iconic film that people really enjoyed. If people were saying "You're script reminds me of Ishtar" -- then we'd be uncomfortable.
The film is "Ultra Low Budget." What does that really mean?
Sean: It's actually a category with the screen Actors Guild. It means anything less than $200,000.
It's basically a new trend. Paramount has just started a new division -- they want to make like 20 ultra-low budget films a year because they had so much success with Paranormal Activity, which cost like $11,000 and made $100 million, so they're like "we want to do that again." With the economy the way it is there 's not a lot of work in indie film right now, so either your movie costs $100 million or it costs $100 thousand. There's not a lot of in between anymore. And on a film like ours it's a lot easier for investors to make their money back.
So why come back to Saratoga to do this film?
Sean: Well the script wasn't written specifically for Saratoga. We didn't write it thinking, "Oh we're going to go back to my home town to shoot it." But then we started thinking about Saratoga and it just has that perfect small town quality.
Charlotte: The visuals are fantastic.
Sean: It just has this great mix of architecture. You've got the house we're shooting as Alexander's, which is this great old northeastern home -- a little run down but not shoddy. It 's got character. And you've go the mansions on North Broadway -- and everything in between. You've got one street that looks almost like a metropolitan area where there's apartments on either side. It's just a fantastic mix of any kind of location you would need.
Charlotte: And all in a really small area which helps with the ultra low budget part since you don't have to drive an hour and a half to get a new look -- you can go right down the street and get a new look.
Sean: Also, a great little quirk of Saratoga is they don't require film permits. We basically need to let them know where we're going and what we're doing. We can't run guerrilla style through the streets, but we don't need a film permit.
Charlotte: It's also easier to make a movie here because people get excited.
Sean: People see us going to garage sales getting ladies cowboy boots, an above ground pool and a sink and they're like, "What are you getting all these random items for?"
And we say we're shooting a movie, and their face lights up and they run inside and say "How about these doilies? Can you use these doilies with Santa Claus on them?" Because movies are exciting.
Charlotte: It's amazing to see how it's all coming together so quickly. I mean we found our producer in January. He read the script and he loved it and he's this young producer who just loves making movies. And the way Sean's network of friends and family that are here all the time are helping. And people's willingness to give of their time and energy to help us make this movie for this amount of money -- it's all being done for under $100,000 -- it's pretty incredible.
We have some kind of momentum. And when you have momentum you just -- you don't question it. You just go. You just keep. Moving. Forward. You'll sleep when you're dead.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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