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Phil and Andrew are two English self-improvement addicts, who set out on a great American road trip in pursuit of the perfectly optimised day. But when they encounter Mary and Katherine, is their plan to live the American Dream a life hack too far?
American Dreamers is a modern coming-of-age story whose characters are searching for guidance and mentorship, the contemporary meaning of manhood, and the significance of personal background and national identity. It is a micro-budget feature film that offers a fresh take on the classic American indie comedies of the 90s and 2000s, a kind-of Sideways for Generation Z. It’s a bold mix-up of genres, combining energetic comedy, with introspection and character study.
The film is a narrative feature, interwoven with documentary-style footage. By fusing techniques from different genres, the project will embody an authentic interplay between real stories and scripted drama. What first appears to be a standard buddy comedy, morphs into a deeper social commentary and character study, without losing the entertaining appeal of its original genre.
Location for American Dreamers - Gray Monk Winery Kelowna
American Dreamers will be shot with a lean cast of four, and a crew of seven. Parts of it will be filmed on an actual road trip, mimicking the route of the characters down the US West Coast after completing production in London, Montreal and across British Columbia.
The production is slated to last 3 weeks starting in July. By working with a concentrated team, amid some spectacular locations, we will be working to create a genuine and completely authentic sense of character and place.
Even though we are working with a tight script, the actors will on many occasions have the liberty to follow their natural impulse and improvise. We have started intensive workshops, adjusting the script to suit the actors' instincts and personalities. In doing so we take inspiration from Richard Linklater's pre-production process, as well as from movies that rely almost entirely on improvisation such as Drinking Buddies, starring Olivia Wilde and Anna Kendrick.
Location for American Dreamers - Casino de Montreal
80% of the film’s budget has already been committed from private investors. We are looking for the last portion of £10,000 from crowdfunding. This money will literally be for the road trip we are taking – the gas, coffee, RV and campgrounds for the cast and crew as we follow the journey – literal and metaphorical – of Andrew, Phil, Katherine and Mary.
We were inspired in this approach by the movie Tracks, which premiered at Raindance London in October 2018. The Tracks team managed with a cast of two and a crew of five, to shoot a 90-minute feature on a 10-day inter-rail trip with a budget comparable to that of American Dreamers.
Phil and Andrew, two English self-improvement addicts, embark on an LA-bound US road trip to make a feature film about their “perfectly optimised day”. In order to legally stay in the US once they make it big, the two life-hackers intend to convince two women to marry them for citizenship under the guise of love.
They soon meet Mary and Katherine, a couple of first-generation Americans who are working on a documentary about the diverse background of California's residents and the survival of the American Dream. Mary and Phil immediately hit it off while Andrew struggles to make a connection with Katherine. This soon drives a wedge between the boys, worsened by the fact that Phil begins to doubt the validity of their entire mission.
The key reward we want to offer to any and all contributors is the ability to vicariously come on this road trip with us and experience our filmmaking process in close to real time. We will be releasing Behind the Scenes to our supporters throughout the production process and will continue to share the lessons we learn through our interview series ‘The Light is Not Right’, where we’ll be chatting to experienced filmmakers and distributors as we complete post-production and bring the film to market.
Behind The Scenes on Khaos Sets directed by Guy Ettlin
We also aim to assemble this process into an easy to digest (and hopefully educational) video series, which supporters will receive before anyone else and always free of charge.
There are other rewards available, depending on the contribution tier you choose. Browse the different locations our characters will visit on their trip and pick your favorite one.
American Dreamers is produced by Khaos Labs, a Montréal-based production company with experience in narrative, documentary and commercial work. The film is created by Guy Ettlin and James Roberts who bring along a unique genre-bending style inspired by their 10+ years of work in theatre and film, as well as the works of Richard Linklater and Andrea Arnold.
Guy Ettlin is a Swiss national currently based in London, UK. He has lived in British Columbia as well as in Montreal where he is working with Khaos Labs. He is joined by Unit Production Manager Emily Sheeran, who has more than 65 projects under her belt, working in production, as an actor, and director. Our Director of Photography is Daniel Everitt-Lock, who has 8 years shooting experience across 15 countries in Short/Feature Film, Music Videos and Commercials.
Lead Cast of American Dreamers
Andrea Pavlovic is a first-generation Canadian actress with Serbian heritage. Toronto-based and a graduate of the York Theatre Programme, she has appeared in a wide range of projects, from film to commercials to scripted and improvised stage work.
James Roberts has 12+ years of performing experience in award-winning projects, including performances at the Edinburgh Fringe and two tours of the US. He splits his time between corporate law and producing in London.
Veronique Aisha Blondeau is an actress and model based in Montreal and Toronto. On top of working as an actress in film and commercials, she also runs a modeling talent agency in Montreal.
Teddy Robson is a London-based actor and has appeared in feature films, shorts and commercials. He also runs his own theatre company and as a graduate of the Central School of Speech and Drama he has appeared in stage productions across London and the UK.
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