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The Myth of the American Sleepover
David Robert Mitchell

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Set against the backdrop of mile roads, neighborhood blocks, abandoned factories and lakes which make up Metro-Detroit, this story follows four young people as they search for love and adventure on the last night of summer. Maggie, Rob, Claudia and Scott cross paths as they explore the suburban wonderland chasing first kisses, elusive crushes, popularity and parties. They are looking for the iconic teenage experience, but instead they discover the quiet moments that will later become the part of their youth that they look back on with nostalgia.

David Robert Mitchell
screenplay: David Robert Mitchell
cinematography: James Laxton
sound: Zach Seivers & JM Davey
editing: Julio C. Perez IV
production design: Jeanine A. Nicholas
music: Kyle Newmaster & William Ryan Fritch

Claire Sloma
Marlon Morton
Amanda Bauer
Brett Jacobsen
Nikita Ramsey
Jade Ramsey
Amy Seimetz
Doug Diedrich
Olivia Coté

David Robert Mitchell

American nationality. Born in 1974 in Detroit (USA).

2002   VIRGIN

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contact Cannes

The Myth of the American Sleepover by Alex Masson

- Why are teenagers such an important topic in American cinema ?
I think that teenagers are an important topic in American cinema because that's the time in life when so much of our self-identity is formed. I think we have a very strong nostalgia for that period of our lives, and we enjoy revisiting those feelings through film. Also, American culture changes and moves so quickly that we often look to young people as a barometer for what's interesting and exciting about the world today.

- How to deal with so many characters, in terms of writing and directing ?
It was definitely challenging to write and direct so many characters in one film. At the start, I had a basic structure for the four main storylines, and most of the side characters were natural extensions of those threads. I just layered more and more details in rewrites. In terms of directing a big ensemble cast, I just focused on one scene at time, while keeping in mind the larger intersecting story arcs. When an actor was on camera, I put all my energy into encouraging their performance. Each cast member has their own unique charm and it was nice to let them shine.

- The teenage years are a time of anger and revolt. Your movie is incredibly tender. Why made you decide using this point of view ?
Our film has a tender point-of-view, because I wanted to remind people that the quiet, gentle moments in our lives are important and memorable. Even though growing up can be really painful and difficult, I didn't want to focus on that. This is a film about first kisses and awkward glances. As adults, I think it's nice to occasionally remember the positive times of our youth.

- Your film talks about a time of responsibilities and pressures. What are yours (responsibilities and pressures) as a filmmaker ?
I think the pressures and responsibilities of a filmmaker are to entertain and stir emotion within the audience. It's my goal to create films that are unique to my experience and point-of-view. I want to fill the story with a tone and feeling that resonates with the audience.

- What is your fondest memory of your own adolescence ?
One of my fondest memories of my adolescence happened on the drive home from a party. I was in the backseat next to a girl I really liked, but she was crying because her ex-boyfriend ignored her at the party. She was still in love with him and wasn't paying attention to me. The girl kept sobbing and I just wanted to go home. Suddenly, she looked over at me and asked if I would kiss her. I did. She stopped crying and we made-out the whole drive home. I still remember the music that played on the radio. It was a strange and wonderful night.

- No one can precisely tell where in America and when the film happens. Why?
The film has a timeless quality because we intentionally sprinkled elements from different eras throughout it. In the background of a scene you might see a popcorn maker from the 80's, while some of the clothes are from the 90's to now. There are no cell phones or computers, because they would date the storyline. To me, these things aren't inherently important. There are universal experiences and emotions connected to growing up and that's the most important part of the story. Although the houses and neighborhoods depict suburban Detroit, Michigan, they also represent an American ideal of our childhood houses, the neighborhoods we roamed, and the waters we swam in when we were young.

- From what I know you shot this film with a RED camera, but it doesn't have a "digital" touch . How does it feel to shoot a movie (partly) about memories with such a modern device ?
We shot the film on a RED camera. Our cinematographer James Laxton and I wanted the film to have a nostalgic, late 70's look with a modern twist. To do this, we shot with older lenses, lower contrast lighting and then color timed the image. Shooting a movie about memories on a modern digital camera might seem like a contradiction, but we were able to closely emulate an older film look, and suggest a feeling of nostalgia through that image.

- What is your favorite teenage comedy character ?
I love Truffaut's Antoine Doinel series, both the dramatic aspects and the lighter humorous moments throughout. I also love American Graffiti. The Myth of the American Sleepover is obviously inspired by that film and there are several "tips of the hat" to it. Although American Graffiti is an inspiration, I wanted to use the framework of the "teenage night of adventure story" and infuse it with a slower pace, gentle moments and a lighter touch.

- How did you react when you found out about John Hughes's death ?
When John Hughes died, like most people who grew up watching his films, I was sad. His characters are wonderful, funny and unique. The thing I admire most about his films was his ability to let moments play out honestly and sweetly amidst the comedy.

The film will be released in the States in 2011 by IFC Entertainment.

Jury Prize (ex aequo) - Deauville American Film Festival – 2010
American Indie Newcomer Prize - Munich International Film Festival – 2010 

Special Jury Award for Best Ensemble Cast - SXSW – 2010

Calgary International Film Festival – 2010
Montreal World Film Festival – 2010
New Zealand International Film Festival – 2010
Sarajevo International Film Festival – 2010
Melbourne International Film Festival – 2010
Munich International Film Festival – 2010

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