In my last entry I discussed some of the theory that went into the writing process of Bridge and Tunnel. This is the personal side.
No matter what film I’m working on it always comes from somewhere genuine within me. If it weren’t that way I’d just be pitilessly pouring through my work, and if I wanted to do that I wouldn’t have gotten into film; I could be making a lot more money doing something else.
Ridiculously Emo was an homage to my high school/early college years band The Koala Stampede. We always had the big ideas figured out like our t-shirt models, concept album titles, and song names; the problem was we preferred the idea of practicing more than the art of practicing itself.
Wet Cigarettes was my life at the time, sans the erectile dysfunction part (as far as I know). I was living in a college house with my two good friends, and we went to a school that was an odd balance of feel-good partiers and art school objectors (our university’s business and film schools were its most congested). Being a film student in study but a partier in lifestyle, Wet Cigs was my way of articulating the challenges of my position within the college-social-hierarchy.
The proceedings within The Newest Pledge didn’t come from actual experience. If you’ve seen the film than you could (hopefully) assume as much. In fact, in college I opted to avoid Greek life, I had little experience with young children, and I wasn’t entirely grisly with womenfolk. Some of the stuff about “giving up creative writing for legal studies” came from my private reflections of the period, but in a broad sense the overall plot of The Newest Pledge did not come from personal experiences.
That being said, in every way possible the film reflected how I felt in life at the time.
The Newest Pledge was written in the fall of 2009 and was produced in the spring of 2010. You could otherwise call this time the pinnacle of my youth. Looking back on it, everything was so modest but it was all I needed. My friends and I were in our waning days of college town life and four year of memories had propelled us to this moment. I had an apartment, the Padres were doing well, my girlfriend was cool, and I was directing my first feature film at age 23. Even if I had wanted to I couldn’t have made a depressing film. My life was fine. It wasn’t perfect, but considering what was going on around me, I had nothing to complain about.
And then it was over, The Newest Pledge had wrapped.
I felt 23 and washed up for about a month and then I turned 24. “24?” I asked myself. “Now I need to be an adult.” The recession was still in full swing in the summer of 2010, the job market for college graduates was bleak, but that didn’t deter me and my girlfriend from getting our own apartment in Los Angeles. A few weeks into moving in we both traveled back east to visit our families (she was from somewhere in New England) and it was my first time back on Long Island since all the individuals I grew up with had graduated.
It was the first time I had seen the effects of this “rough job market for college graduates” that I heard so much about on the news. My friends, people I cared about who had just busted their asses in college, were working crappy jobs, getting laid off, and barely scraping by. Most of them were forced to move back in with their parents. They seemed lost and generally unhappy, but they didn’t complain much.
That trip home served as the fastest way to make me feel guilty about living in California, pursuing a movie-making fantasy. It also served as the genesis for Bridge and Tunnel.
Moving in with my girlfriend was a horrible idea, our relationship disintegrated in about three months after cohabitation initiated, but while we lived in that apartment I used to go to a track nearby. It was at this track that I started laying the groundwork for a movie about a group of people living in suburban New York City, post-recession, living with their parents, trying to date. It was a romantic comedy. It was going to be silly like The Newest Pledge.
Then I had a really bad winter and by Februrary 1, 2011 I was back home living with my parents. I had other options but I wanted to see what it was like. I was committed to this movie idea and I wanted to experience what my characters were experiencing. As a friend and fellow filmmaker had said to me, this was my chance at “veritas.” I enrolled at the University nearby so that I wouldn’t be wasting my time entirely, and got to writing.
What I developed was an anthology of about twenty short stories that tied together. I began filming these anthologies throughout late 2011 into mid 2012 before something bizarre happened; My friends settled into their lives. It was fascinating. It was as if the entire past two years I was watching caterpillars develop into butterflies.
Well, it wasn’t that beautiful. You see, sure everyone eventually got their lives on some sort of track and that was beautiful and overwhelming, but the damage was done. Three years in a bad job market, along with student debt, a decade long war, and the ashes of September 11th had left an enduring wound on my peers and me.
And then I realized that was my movie. That’s why I couldn’t settle on the concept, that’s why I was pulling my hair out, because I needed to witness the resolution in real time. The world didn’t need another romantic comedy. The world doesn’t need another movie that breezes through social misfortune to tell a cute story. What I decided to finally do in mid-2012 was tell the story of my peers (born in suburban New York between the years 1982-1989) as they begin what had always been sold to them as “real life.” As they settled into careers, as they attempted to move out on their own, as they struggled to reclaim the youth that terrorist attacks both real and anticipated altered, and as they attempted to build their lives in the punitive economic realities of the early 21st century.
And then because I wrote it, it came out funny. I believe that God gives everyone a gift, and He made me funny. It’s my burden to use that sense of humor to bring joy to others. When used appropriately comedy can enlighten more effectively than any dissertation or homily. I believe that if we don’t master the gift that God gives us then we as people fail to maximize the potential that our lives have. I understand that no matter how serious I want to be, no matter how much I want to put the weight of the world on my shoulders, I can’t escape the circumstance that in this court of man I’m forever a jester. But a good jester can have unbelievable influence if he does his job well, and that’s been the goal of Bridge and Tunnel dating back to that track I used to pace around.
A lot of people have helped guide me to this point in the project, and a handful of people were very patient in their loyalty, allowing me to evolve the concept to this moment. They’re every bit as responsible for any realization that Bridge and Tunnel has as I am. It wasn’t all me. But as an individual, this is how I got here.
Jason Michael Brescia
February 19, 2013 12:46 P.M EST