Mount Joy

Director Jack Lewars

It’s one-part indie rock band film added to one-part dramedy about a group of young people living on the fringes of rural Philadelphia. We reached director Jack Lewars to get the backbeat.

Mount Joy feels like a labor of love — the hashing out of real circumstances, if not just a love of the location. Is this true?

Absolutely. Mount Joy takes place in the town where I grew up. Every character is inspired by someone the writer and I knew. I wanted to capture what it felt like to live there, to fall in love, to go to shows, to while away the day with your friends at a bar. I also wanted to convey the conflicting feelings many of us had there. On one side, we wanted to stay in the comfort of our lives, and on the other, we hoped to experience bigger things.

The casting is deft, the main leads are memorable, but a lot of the little roles shine, too. Was this an actor’s film?

In addition to the love story, this film is about unknown artists on the verge of breaking out. We decided to stick with that theme in casting. We had the budget to select more well known actors, but we chose to fill every role with really great actors who we felt should be known. This decision may seem like a gamble, as we all know that celebrity sells movies. But I wanted this film to feel authentic, and for me, that meant casting in this way.

How was the music written? How central was it to filming?

Music plays a major role in this movie. So we spent a lot of time on the soundtrack. Jay Della Valle, our leading man, wrote the music for the Living Daylights, the band in the film. He really captured the tension, heartbreak and joy of the different scenes. We also selected songs from the bands of our youth, the very bands this film is about, plus we added some songs from bands we love now.

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