The Daily Iowan

Month to Month to be shown at Iowa Film Festival, June 25


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"I don’t know what it is, man, but I really enjoy watching you suffer."

At least that’s what Jared thinks.

In the new feature film Month to Month, written and directed by Wes Hopper, a group of 20-somethings go through the coming-of-age stage every person inevitably goes through.

The drama will make an appearance at the Iowa Film Festival at 4 p.m. June 25 in the IMU.

The story follows Seth, a recent college graduate with a M.F.A. in playwriting who would rather spend his time partying than getting a job. After reconnecting with an old friend from college, Jared, Seth has to make the decision whether to move on with his life and grow up or be stuck in his past.

Chris Stewart (Seth), Corey Wright (Nate), Karl Hammerle (Jared), Natalie Thomas (Brie), Mimi Hirt (Sephora), Sarah Natochenny (Celine), and Amir Darvish (Manny) play a group of people many can relate to.

Hopper said the story line is a postponed coming-of-age tale based on his own experiences as a 20-something in the city.

"Traditionally, coming of age tales are teenagers, and these characters are all in their 20s and trying to figure things out," the New York City director told The Daily Iowan. "The movie takes course over a few months. [We see] whether these people are going to stay put or whether they’re going to retreat [from New York]."

The "City that Never Sleeps" serves as its own character, Hopper said.

"There’s something weird about New York, where if you stick it out, New York accepts you and you accept it," he said. "Most people stay for a year, maybe less, maybe a little more. Most people I would say come here for a little while and then go back to where they came from."

While most films are shot over a period of a few months, or at least a few weeks, Month to Month was filmed in 12 days in Brooklyn. Hopper said the filming came with a few hurdles to overcome.

"Writing the script was fairly easy, getting in front of the camera was a process," he said. "We had our lead actor — he had managed to book a guest-star role on a popular NBC comedy. We already committed what money we had to our production and crew. We thought it was over."

LA-based Stewart was called the day before filming began and was asked to take on the role of Seth. After slight consideration, Stewart got on a Red Eye, read the script on the plane, and went straight to the set to begin filming.

"It was a pretty unconventional process for me, because I was cast literally the day before they started shooting and hadn’t read the script," Stewart said. "It was a challenging process for sure, because I like to do as much prep work as possible. Everyone was very supportive."

He said he thought the problems that arise in the story are issues anyone can relate to.

"It came on the risk of sort of being a who gives a sh*t situation," he said. "Why are these people’s problems any different? There are many touchdowns in the film — like the struggle for purpose and the idea of fear of going after what you really want. And these are problems that resonate with everyone."

Being able to resonate with the film will have a huge impact on the audience, Stewart said.

"You only get one go-around," he said. "[You’re] sort of protecting yourself from failure, sort of sitting out from stuff. The only way to live happily is to put yourself out there and risk falling on your face."

Thomas, said even though the problems in the story concerned artists in New York, they symbolize the issue of finding oneself as a whole.

"The story, it’s really about personal identity, particular to New York, particular to artists, but metaphors for anyone," she said. "How do you be happy? How do you accept certain things? I think that it’s really about finding out who you are after all those ideas that you had in school."

Hammerle said the movie’s relatabily expands across the board.

"I think there are different levels of the movie that are relatable to different genres of audience members," the New York-based actor said. " I think anybody’s that in pursue of a passion will watch this movie and feel at least one of those things [presented]."

Month to Month has picked up several awards from the Film Festival. Hammerle won Best Supporting Actor, Thomas won Best Supporting Actress, and the film picked up the Iowa Film Festival Breakthrough Award.

Hopper said he is excited to get to the festival.

"The Iowa Film Festival has really put together a really good slate of movies," he said. "It looks like a strong group; I’m really excited to be a part of it."