Tonight is the screening of the locally-produced short film, No Real Than You Are, an inventive narrative fiction that explores the underbelly of the Sarasota drug-scene. Director and writer, Vincent Dale, and cinematographer, Juan Sebastian, are both in town for the festival; Sebastian stopped by the filmmaker’s lounge today to discuss the film and its inception.
The film is, in part, a dedication to Brandi Meshad, an 18-year-old girl who died of an oxycodone overdose. Though neither Dale nor Sebastian personally new Meshad, they were always “one degree away,” according to Sebastian, and her story is one with which they are both familiar. Unfortunately, this drug has corroded much of Sarasota’s youth and Sebastian believes it’s an all-too-common struggle.
Straight from L.A., Sebastian is a Sarasota-native who has known Dale since the two were 13-year olds attending Pine View School. The two discovered their shared love of counterculture music one day in computer class and became chums from that day forth and even had aspirations of assembling their own punk band. However, after Dale had an accident in which he fractured his leg and with little to do, he began a three-month-long movie marathon, spending nearly every waking hour devouring films of both past and present. Forget the music idea, Dale had developed a deep passion for film and recruited his friend Sebastian to collaborate.
As freshmen in High School, the duo had their first entry in the Sarasota Film Festival through the youth program—a short film titled Red Wagon Confessions. The experience was one neither could get enough of and for the next three years they made it into the festival until they each went off for college; Dale went to Florida State as a creative writing major and Sebastian made his way out to the University of Southern California. After graduating, Dale made a trip to L.A. to visit Sebastian, who was doing freelance film work at the time, and the two began to work together once again.
According to Sebastian, Dale struggled to find his inspiration in L.A. and eventually decided that he must return to Sarasota, where he knew, undoubtedly, that he would discover his motivation. So, he did just that and spent eight months writing No Real Than You Are. The process was daunting, as Dale was working full-time as a server at Café Galante on St. Armands, and then spending the wee hours creating his narrative.
Once the script was complete, there was the matter of filming, this is when Dale reached out to Sebastian, as he had done on previous projects. With virtually no money to finance filming the two were presented with not only the obvious money challenge but also, as Sebastian says, “On paper it seemed an impossible movie to make.” He explains that Dale had an imaginative and ambitious script in his hands that incorporated both elements of magical realism and poetry. Yet, Sebastian also emphasizes that it is in many ways grounded and is ultimately a story about a girl who falls in love and the decisions she makes thereafter. “We wanted the audience to ask themselves, would I make these decisions—could I make these decisions?” Sebastian explains. Fortunately, through Kickstarter, they reached their financing goal and were able to translate the script to film.
Though Sebastian has taken part in the festival before, he still admits to experiencing some pre-screening jitters. There are so many people in the community that took part in the making of No Real Than I am and despite his nerves, he’s thrilled to share the final project with them tonight.
Make sure to come to tonight’s screening of No Real Than I Am at 9:30 p.m. at where else but Regal Hollywood 20. Both Vincent Dale and Juan Sebastian will be in attendance.