Tim Sutton isn’t completely sure what his next film will be about, but it will shot in Sarasota starring actors from the region—and perhaps building on their own stories. The independent film director will hold a casting call at the Ringling College of Art and Design this weekend, and spoke with SRQ Backlot about the project and his particular style for making cinema.
Sutton boasts two features in his filmography thus far—Memphis and Pavillion. Both films had a small number of principles and were created through a style that merges narrative and documentary styles, bringing the real elements of actors lives into the fictional story. “I don’t work with typical actors,” he explains. “What I do is to go have interesting talent and look at their backstory, then creating characters mixing my imagination with their real lives.”
The quasi-documentary approach seems almost like a reverse approach to that of documentarian Robert Greene, who visited Sarasota promoting such films as Actress and Fake It So Real, films that use highly dramatized imagery to tell real-life stories. Sutton agrees with the comparison, and also notes many elements of European cinema that have influenced his work. “This type of filmmaking a and storytelling is new right now,” he says. But cheap filming equipment and new distribution channels allow for experimentation on a tight budget, and allow filmmakers to flex stylistic muscles.
That puts plenty of pressure of Sutton, of course. Between the casting call this weekend and going into active production in May, Sutton will have to write the whole script. And while he has a foundation story in mind, he says much of the tale is waiting for the inspiration from individuals he has yet to meet.
Sutton chose Sarasota as the location of his upcoming project because of the strong reputation of Ringling College’s film program. Through a personal connection to an executive producer on the film, Sutton met David Shapiro, owner of Semkhor Networks and a driving force behind Ringling’s Digital Filmmaking Studio Lab program. That effort has helped connect Ringling with all levels of Hollywood professionals from Oscar-winning actors to directors and producers.
“Sarasota is off the beaten path for L.A. and New York productions, but we are getting people to see a lot of advantages to coming here, Ringling College being a very big one,” Shapiro said. “The people here are all interesting and helpful, and Tim, when he came here, saw that as well.”
Sarasota , of course, also boasts great weather and the semi-urban setting Sutton envisions for his story, but he is most excited to have an art school as his partner. “I have been working with different models as far as the film industry goes, but I like being involve din an art institute,” he said. The entire shoot will have in the Sarasota-Bradenton area, he said, and resources from the school, including talent and infrastructure, will contribute to bringing the film to completion.
The open casting call takes place Saturday and Sunday (Feb. 21-22, 2015) at the Ringling College Goldstein Center from 11am-4pm each day.