In times of change, some choose to stand aside and watch. Others prove reluctant to acknowledge change at all. Some, however, choose to steal an old station wagon and make change themselves. Such is the case for the 19-year-old Mercer in writer and director Martin Hynes’ new film, “The Go-Getter.”
As part of the Melnitz Movies series, “The Go-Getter” will be screening Thursday evening at 7:30 in the James Bridges Theater, followed by a Q&A with Hynes.
“(The film) really pertains to college-age students,” said Sara Lohman, director of Melnitz Movies and a student in the producers program of the department of film, television and digital media.
“It is all about finding who you are and coming to terms with the past (while) constantly trying to figure out where to go with the future.”
An official selection for last year’s Sundance Film Festival, “The Go-Getter” chronicles the road trip of Mercer, played by Lou Taylor Pucci, from Oregon to Mexico in a stolen station wagon.
Guided by a series of phone conversations with Kate, the car’s rightful owner, Mercer embarks upon a journey of self-discovery.
“(Mercer) feels stuck, trapped by who he is,” Hynes said. “He doesn’t know what (he) wants but knows that it is not what he has.”
This film’s story parallels a road trip that Hynes took himself after a significant personal loss. It was on this trip that Hynes spent much of his time writing for himself, as well as for the film.
“I just wrote and drove,” Hynes said. “The film is fairly autobiographical.”
The process of filming took a similar approach, with the scenes shot in sequence ““ an unusual characteristic for the filming process ““ and away from the big studio lots of Hollywood.
“I just wanted to get out of town and get a small crew on the road,” said Hynes. “Where the rules of filmmaking don’t apply.”
With a cast that includes names such as Zooey Deschanel (“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”) as Kate, and Judy Greer (“27 Dresses”), many of the characters are a departure from the actress’ previous roles.
“There are a lot of great performances by this cast, which is usually more difficult to accomplish with younger actors,” Lohman said. “However, this film is particularly warming.”
The Q&A session with Hynes following the screening will allow audience members to discuss questions or interests provoked by the film.
“It is always interesting to learn more about the process from Q&As,” Lohman said. “Usually you never think about the time it takes to combine all of the (film’s) elements.”
Hynes strives to provoke thought in his audience, as opposed to relaying a single, clear-cut message to viewers.
“I like films that end in a way where I have to think about them,” Hynes said.
“As for this film, I intended it to end with a sense of beginning … a sense of hope.”
Hynes aims to not only evoke such hope but also to broaden the perspective of moviegoers and the film industry regarding films that tackle the journey of adolescence.
“This is a small film that could easily be overlooked,” Hynes said. “But the opportunity to expand the idea of what films can be is a really cool thing.
“It is a very funny, moving, beautiful and emotionally different experience.”