Audiences can expect romance, secret agents and Mister Ed's Elephant Museum in the last installment of John Putch's "Route 30" trilogy.
The series, filmed completely in south central Pennsylvania, follows the whacky and sometimes touching tales of characters living along Route 30 between Chambersburg and Gettysburg.
The most recent film will premiere on Aug. 2 and 3 at Gettysburg's Majestic Theater. It focuses on three stories: the disappearance of a character named Rotten Egg, a camera that reveals the truth in every photo and one man's quest to become less boring.
Before the premiere, Putch shared a few of his thoughts about the movie, filming in south central Pennsylvania and making independent movies on a small budget.
How would you describe the Route 30 series to viewers who have not seen the first two films?
First, if you haven't seen one of these movies, it's okay because they all stand alone. You don't have to see one to enjoy the other, and there's no secrets missing if you just show up. Secondly, when we do these things (the Route 30 movies), this is the area of the state that the movies are made for because I'm from there, and I set my stories along the Route 30 corridor along Chambersburg and Gettysburg.
How does this most recent film compare to the other two movies in the series?
I think it's a blend of the two. One was incredibly personal and melancholic. It dealt with stuff that was important to me, and there was a lot of my mother and my father in it. The second one was a farce. There was absolutely nothing serious about it. It was nothing but hijinks and laughter. I think the third one, I tried to blend both of those together when I could. Hopefully the movie will leave you thinking about it and the humans in it rather than just laughing it off and forgetting it the next day.
All of the Route 30 series, including the most recent film, was shot in south central Pennsylvania. What is it about this area that makes you want to keep coming back?
I just love shooting movies there. It feels like it did when I was a kid and I shot my Super 8 movies. So there I am back in my stomping grounds where everything is familiar... I also like shooting in the area because it's pretty, and there's some really interesting stuff to see. I'm so tired of turning on the TV set or going to the movie theater and seeing the same old Los Angeles or Chicago city and stuff that's not that pretty.
All of these films were shot with a crew of fewer than 10 people. What was that experience like?
My crew was limited to eight. We're very small. The whole point of the micro-budget edict is we need to do it with less people and less money. It's not about profit; it's about discovering the joy of doing something and making something with your hands. Some people, their hobby is they make furniture in their garage, or they paint, or they make jewelry, whatever it is that they do. This is my hobby, and I love doing this.
So how does that small crew influence the final product?
I think they (mico-budget films) are the best movies I've ever made, to be honest. They're the best stories, and they're well-acted and they're well-edited. I have complete control of them, so it's up to me. It's either going to fail or succeed because of me, not because of some committee or television studio or network or something that demands me do this or hire that person or write it this way. I think the lower the budget, the less interference you have. These are my films and I finance them, so they really are my home movies.
What advice would you give aspiring filmmakers hoping to break into the industry?
I would encourage them not to break into the industry. I would encourage them just to make their films wherever they are. You can make them with anything now, and you don't need a pat on the back from studios and networks... You don't need to come to Hollywood, you don't need to go to New York to do it, you don't need to leave where you are to do it... I encourage people to look around at what they have and use it because nobody else has it.
What's next for you now that the Route 30 trilogy is done?
I go back to television in September to work on TV shows that I direct regularly, one of which is called "Cougar Town" with Courteney Cox. I'm also doing a show called "Bad Judge." It's a new show with Kate Walsh. And then I'm planning my next movie in Pennsylvania. I hope to do that in 2015 or early 2016, so I'll be coming back again. It will not be a Route 30 movie, but it will be a movie.
Can you say anything more about that movie?
All I know is it's probably going to be a little heavier in tone, and it might be a little more dramatic and not as whimsical. I don't have anything down yet, so it could go anywhere.