18 TO PARTY makes great use of talented young cast

Jesus Figueroa

Written by Jesus Figueroa
@ThisFunktional of ThisFunktional.com

“18 to party” finds a truth to be told through a coming of age story which shows the different reactions to situations through the different life experiences of the young cast members.
“The intention for the film is to explore a microcosm - in this case a very specific place at a very specific time - that these kids are navigating in the immediate circumstances and events that are happening around them, with them trying to make sense of it all,” Director and screenwriter Jeff Roda said. “The bigger intention, and hopefully viewers will feel this, is that it’s a meditation on Generation X, who they were, what their challenges were, and the journey to where they ended up at the present time. A generation of kids that at some level feel like what is and what’s coming might not be very good, but there’s really nothing else to count on.”
The cast – which includes Alivia Clark, Tanner Flood, James Freedson-Jackson, Oliver Gifford, Nolan Lyons, Sam McCarthy, Ivy Miller, Taylor Richardson and Erich Schuett – are a group of young teens waiting for the opportunity to enter a club. As they wait, they talk about events which have rocked their lives.

Among the topics the young characters discuss are family, growing up, and suicide. While each of the characters deals with news of a group of classmates, friends, and family members committing suicide, they bond and start to see how each one of them needs to find their own way to get through the news.
“In the film, a lot of these heavier topics are explored through the mind and words of thirteen-year-old kids and awash with the ignorance of youth. At one point they’re talking about a vocational program in their school and one of the kids says, ‘It’s for being like a car mechanic or something, because they can’t do anything real.’ Obviously this is a ridiculous observation as being a car mechanic takes extraordinary training, skill, and knowledge,” Roda said. “A subject like suicide, to the kids, is something that their minds can’t really fathom so it’s talked about in a matter-of-fact way that might seem jarring, but it’s how kids like that would talk about. The action of suicide, not the despair and hopelessness that can precede taking ones own life. Basically the kids aren’t being insensitive as much as they’re basically way over their head in discussing these things.”
While these subject are dark and may be hard for people of any age to really grasp, it is the topic which most stands out through the emotionless matter it is discussed, but at the same time the way every conversation leads back to it. It seems like every character is not only trying to come to terms but understand how it affects the community as a whole.

The writing, direction, and acting are key as each actor has to deal with dark topics which can be a demanding task to actors of any age.
“We did a lot of work. We knew that the film would live or die by how well these young, largely inexperienced actors. We’re prepared and confident in what they wanted to do once the cameras began to roll,” Roda said. “We had a couple weeks of rehearsal and, at first, we were blocking scenes with the cinematographer, Gris Jordana, but we abandoned that pretty quickly. It was much more important to get the kids immersed in the written word and confident in themselves so I worked with each actor individually to go through the entire script, not just their scenes or lines. We had very little room for error once filming began so it was either going to work or not work based on their level of commitment. And they were all very, very committed.”
The young actors are wonderful in capturing the viewer’s attention through actions, dialogue, and the use of their surroundings.

As much as each of these characters have their own distinct personality, what brings out some of the most distinct personalities in the young actors is the way they react to the few different locations.

The locations become almost another characters as the mood of the scenes change as the two main locations are used for different situations.
“The location we ultimately found was extraordinary because there was room and spacial depth for the characters to move around in we didn’t anticipate having,” Roda said. “The loading docks and stairs and walls and fences really allowed for more reactive movement from the actors and it let Gris Jordana, the cinematographer, get creative and she’s just so talented. The construction site was another lucky break, as someone we knew was having some property work done and we were able to utilize that environment, as it’s impossible to get permission to use an active construction site somewhere.”
The characters and location make for a captivating film, that is dialogue heavy. With no action to fall back on to the young cast is tasked with carrying the movie.

Roda said, “...the entire film succeeds or fails on the shoulders of these kids, some with no experience, and it’s a tribute to their emotional depth and inherent understanding of the inner emotional lives of other people. They are a very clever group of young artists.”

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