In "June Falling Down," Rebecca Weaver plays a character who clearly has problems motivating herself.
Weaver herself clearly doesn't have that problem, having wrote, directed, edited and starred in the slice-of-life drama, one of the nicest surprises of this year’s Wisconsin Film Festival. The film, made for just $15,000 and shot in Door County, had its world premiere Saturday at the festival. The screening sold out so quickly that festival organizers added a second one on Sunday night.
“We are totally standing in front of you as beginners in this whole process,” Weaver told the audience during a post-show Q&A.
In the film, June is an art school dropout from Door County who flees her hometown for the barista life in San Francisco after her father dies of cancer.
Now it’s a year later, and June is back in town for the wedding of her best friend Harley (Nick Hoover). There’s always been an undercurrent of unrequited love between them, and now June has to deal with those unresolved feelings as well as the grief she’s staved off about her father’s passing.
But “June Falling Down” doesn’t feel like a heavy film. Weaver gracefully entwines the two dramatic strands of her story with plenty of humor and Wisconsin character, right down to the bottles of Spotted Cow her characters drink. The acting and dialogue feels natural and unforced, giving the characters time to unpack their feelings for each other. And the gorgeous shots of Door County will make the viewer immediately want to book their cabin up north for the summer.
Especially strong in the film is how sensitively and insightfully it handles grief. There’s no big emotional breakdown scene or tidy catharsis like one might find in a traditional Hollywood movie, just an ongoing absence that one learns to live with. This was the most personal part of the film for Weaver; her own father died of cancer in 2009.
Weaver said making “June Falling Down” was basically her film school, jumping right into the process and learning as she went. She and her co-producer, Chris Irwin, tapped into a friends and family in Door County to help make the film. Seemingly every cast member was somebody Weaver met over beers in Wisconsin who she thought would be right for a part. With no crew to speak of other than Irwin and herself, Weaver said it was a challenging and exhausting shoot at times.
“We were basically a two-person crew — sometimes we would get a friend to hold the boom mic,” she said. “A lot of it really worked out in our favor, miraculously.”
From here, Weaver plans to submit “June Falling Down” to more festivals and is hoping for a distributor, a part of the process as new to her as making the film itself. She wants to show it in Door County and all over the state.
“This film’s so Wisconsin,” she said. “We can’t stop here!”