A tongue-in-cheek celebration of 1980s’ cinema, Jason Brown’s Falcon Song legitimately makes you feel like you have travelled through time. The film goes retro with everything from production techniques and the soundtrack to its storyline about a guitar-toting loner and his relationship with a smoking hot rancher’s daughter — who also, of course, has magical powers.
Can you explain your connection to Santa Barbara?
I have lived in Santa Barbara for a few years but still frequently travel back and forth to Los Angeles. It had long been a goal of mine to be able to move to Santa Barbara when my film career allowed. I was able to pull away from working staff on large studio films and living full time in L.A. when my own boutique studio, Corgan Pictures, began to grow legs. Santa Barbara is a great town and with it having roots in silent-era history, it’s almost perfect for filmmakers who have devoted their lives to the craft!
What were the challenges in trying to accurately evoke a proper 1980’s cinematic feel?
A lot of the film was shot at distant locations across the American West, so with limited gear, crew, and schedule, it was challenging at times to maintain the glossy “dream-factory” look that was common in the ’80s. A lot of this look comes from certain lighting techniques and we all feel very fortunate to have had solid camera, grip and lighting departments. There were many times that we had to stop and pull back from going too modern — always thinking of the standards and styles of past eras (’60s, ’70s, and mostly ’80s).
My goal wasn’t to create a film that was just a modern rip-off of an ’80s movie, but one that felt and looked as if it traveled ahead in time, skipping the past two-and-a-half decades. I strived for it to be authentic, free from irony, and not to be self-aware. You won’t see jelly bracelets and parachute pants, but a more classic approach to the styling. I’m inspired to take audiences to an all-new story world that attempts to harness the hard-to-define visceral qualities of a bygone era.
What is it about the ’80s and magical realism?
I feel that the innocence, magical realism, and even technical execution of yesterday’s pop cinema have become shockingly alternative when viewed in today’s marketplace. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why magical realism was so prevalent in 1980s movies. Perhaps it was due to the fact that technologies and techniques had advanced to the point where more was possible for the big budget projects. We all know of the outlandish fantasy/sci-fi senarios that we saw in the decade’s biggest pictures. This may have led audiences to become more appreciative of the subtle and sometime unexplainable bending of reality in smaller films. Falcon Song utilizes these elements very lightly, but I feel that their presence is an important part of the package.
What are some films that the average viewer might know that helped inspire Falcon Song? The Wrath, perhaps?
For some reason, the first act of Gremlins was always on my mind. Of course, Falcon Song is far from a horror-comedy, but I think that the lighthearted feel, acting style, and vibrant characters all were influential to me. There’s something very intriguing to me about the nostalgic, surreal, comedic darkness that emanates from films like Groundhog’s Day, Big, Home Alone — even Spaceballs. I suppose that pulling influence from comedies and applying that to dramatic subject matter ultimately comes out as whimsical. Of course, to enhance authenticity we also cast Martin Kove who played the evil sensei of the Cobra Kai in the The Karate Kid. I am proud to announce that no legs were swept during the making of Falcon Song… close… but I can still walk.
If you had to pigeon hole this movie and put it in a category what would it be?
I’d say a probably a dramedy. Although, a “whimsical, 1980s style contemporary western” seems to explain it better. I had hoped for it to come across as an authentic low-budget ’80s movie that was found in a vault and released many years later. Ultimately, it is the audience who will have final say.
Answer like you are sitting next to me at a bar: “So, what’s your movie about?”
It’s a about a guitar-playing drifter who helps a rancher’s granddaughter find her true calling. It’s not a real heavy film; it’s whimsical but has some thematic undertones about soul-searching and land conservation. We have music by The Moody Blues, Kate Bush, and Nikki Lane, who is finishing up an album with Dan Auerbach from the Black Keys. It’s done in a low-budget ’80s style and we even have Martin Kove from The Karate Kid.
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