Who: Kyle Eaton is the writer and director of “Shut Up Anthony,” an independent comedy screening at the 2017 BendFilm Festival, Oct. 12 through 15 in locations around Bend. Eaton is an Oregon native who made films in high school and attended film school at Montana State University. “Upon graduating, I did what everybody does,” he said, by which he meant move to Los Angeles and work as a production assistant, among working on such projects as “Meek’s Cutoff” and “Portlandia,” the latter of which led him to move back home to Portland. “Shut Up Anthony” was filmed at locations around Bend and Sunriver and made its world premiere in March at Cinequest Film Festival in San Francisco, and has taken awards at several film festivals since. It screens Oct. 14 at BendFilm. For passes and other information, visit bendfilm.org.
Q: So what made you decide to shoot “Shut Up Anthony” here in Bend and Sunriver?
A: As an Oregon native, I knew that I wanted to shoot my first feature in the Pacific Northwest, but really it was that this story lent itself to the landscape that is Bend and Central Oregon.
Q: How so?
A: The premise of the movie is about a loquacious — as you can tell from the title — character who talks too much. Without spoiling too much of the movie, in the first act of the film, a lot of his life unravels between professional failure and relationship failure. He decides to return to a timeshare family vacation home that he’s been avoiding for a good reason that later reveals itself. When he lands there, this is where we filmed on location in Sunriver; when he lands at that house he finds an old estranged family friend is also down there, for his own dubious reasons. He’s a not-so-closeted alcoholic theology professor who says he’s there to work on his curriculum but is kind of down there for other reasons, putting him in another situation that is not the best for him or his marriage. So, the two are forced to live together and share the space as they clash over family dynamics and religion and coaster etiquette.
Q: Would you call it a buddy film?
A: It’s like a buddy comedy. At its core, it’s a story about survivor’s guilt, but it’s disguised as a buddy comedy. But it’s kind of about a ton of different things. We’ve always talked about how hard the synopsis is. We’ve had screenings all over the country now, and every single time we get out, the audience says, “That’s not what I expected,” you know, in a positive way. … Tonally, I would say it’s a serious comedy, or depending on your sense of humor, a funny drama. I feel like Alexander Paine is a good reference, like his movie “Sideways.” It’s tonally similar. Bringing up Alexander Paine — his composer, Mark Orton, who scored “Nebraska” and some other great films … he did all of our music. He scored the film. … He’s Oregon-based. Our entire production was made of the crew from “Portlandia,” or just a (Portland-based) crew. Our soundtrack is flanked with Oregon bands as well, so it is definitely an Oregon-made movie.
Q: What are some locations in the film that residents of this area will recognize?
A: Well, the funny thing is, we were keeping it a little bit nondescript. … But it is set in Sunriver, and I feel like anybody that’s ever been in that resort will recognize the bike trails, the river, the (traffic) circles. We go outside into Bend as well, but we shot a lot around the lava (flows), just establishing shots to set the environment. The film starts in Portland and the character, Anthony, hits the road and heads east, and there is kind of a driving montage. It goes up over Mount Hood and hits the High Desert. All of that will be a very familiar drive that anybody from Bend or Portland will recognize.
— David Jasper, The Bulletin