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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

June 3, 2009 at 10:02 AM

Local film “True Adolescents” arrives at SIFF

I spent a little time on the phone earlier this week with Craig Johnson, writer/director of the locally shot comedy “True Adolescents,” which will have its SIFF premiere Thursday and Saturday. The film is about an aging Seattle rocker (Mark Duplass, also at SIFF in “Humpday”) who reluctantly takes a pair of teens on an ill-fated camping trip. Johnson, a native of Bellingham, went to the U.W. and, post-graduation, did local theater and worked as a science demonstrator at Pacific Science Center before heading to New York in 2002 to go to film school.
“Thinking of this idea, it always took place back in Washington,” said Johnson of “True Adolescents.” “You could have not only these characters but you could feature this beautiful and sort of mysterious landscape that you don’t have anywhere else in the world.” Much of the movie, he said, was filmed in the Cascade mountains or the Olympic Peninsula; other scenes were shot in Seattle, Woodinville, and surrounding areas.
“True Adolescents” was shot in August and September of 2007 – a fairly eventful period, in which a camera truck caught fire overnight while charging batteries (“it was like a Warner Bros. cartoon, a plume of black smoke”). It made its world premiere at South by Southwest earlier this year, and has played several other film festivals before arriving home to Seattle. Johnson said he’s looking forward to seeing the film with a hometown crowd (his mom has arranged a contingent of “40 or 45” family members and friends coming) and that he’s thrilled to be part of what’s been “a banner year for Northwest films.”
And what’s next? He’s “cautiously optimistic” about finding distribution for “True Adolescents,” based on a lot of interest from the film’s premiere at SXSW. And he’s working on a couple of scripts with producer Thomas Woodrow, and recently went to L.A. to pitch some ideas (including one about “killer octopus creatures”). “I have to say that the skills that I drew from the most was my science demonstrating,” he said, remembering his days in a tie-dyed lab coat at the Science Center. You have 20 minutes, get in front of a crowd, do a little song and dance. That’s basically what a Hollywood pitch is.”
“True Adolescents” screens at 9:30 p.m. Thursday and 1:30 Saturday, both at the Egyptian. For more information, see www.siff.net.

(Yes, that’s Melissa Leo, the Oscar nominee for “Frozen River,” alongside Duplass. Photo credit: Lance Mercer)

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