By Davis Rivera
Andrew Gitomer’s Past Present Future is a feature-length film about two close friends who had had an on-again, off-again relationship since high school, and meet up for the first time after three years apart. The film is structured so that the audience is able to see the course of their friendship play out in flashbacks while they confront their complicated past. Writer/Director Gitomer’s decision not to edit the film in chronological order was a conscious one that gives the film an emotional power that should resonate with anyone who has ever been in or been a witness to a similar situation. Indeed, the film itself is one of the best portraits of young people in modern America that has come along in quite some time. When I spoke to Gitomer and his Director of Photography Jonathan Stromberg after the film, Gitomer described his desire to push the youth angle when promoting the film.
“We tried to focus on the unique things in the film and I feel the most unique thing about this film is that it is peering into a generation that I don’t see a lot of solid representations of in the media. So we tried to play that up and basically appeal to people who are our age who want to see this kind of movie because they don’t see it anywhere else.”
What Past Present Future has to say about love and relationships shows the wisdom of a man who understands that love is the finest of sentiments. Gitomer gives it its due in a series of scenes that all add up to a perfectly crafted finale that sums up the two main characters in mere seconds. While watching the film, it is evident how much thought Gitomer put into his script and how long this story of today’s youth had been gestating in his mind. When I asked exactly how long this film had been in the works, his answer did not surprise me.
“I shot Past Present Future in 2011 and I used to tell people I started writing it in 2010 because that is my earliest memory of writing it. Until one day I was digging through some old college notes and I found one of the car scenes I had written free hand and it was marked 2008. So I’ve been working on this film since 2008.”
The road to getting the film complete was a long one that took up years of Gitomer’s life.
“It was about two years and seven drafts to eventually arrive at the shooting draft. From there we shot all of 2011, basically from the summer all the way through September then it was another two years in the edit to get it finally done in 2013. Meanwhile, I put the script down and wrote other things.”
One of those other scripts was his forthcoming sophomore feature Pretty Girls. The energetic crowd at Filmadelphia was fortunate enough to see the trailer for that film before the screening of Past Present Future and, even given the brevity of the trailer, it was clear that the futures of Gitomer and Stromberg looks very promising. I asked Gitomer his opinion on the role of the filmmaker in today’s incredibly crowded and competitive film world.
“I definitely consider the promotional part of the filmmaking process, such as the poster, tagline, title, etc., just as important as the script and something that I realized coming out of film school and wanting to be a director is that we no longer live in a time where a director can believe that the marketing strategy of the film is not his job. They must do that in addition to their directorial position.”
We are certainly living in an age where being a multi-hyphenate is no longer relegated to those in search of auteur status. If one is going to stand out and create personal films worthy of being seen, there must be control and Gitomer is a man who has clear control over his craft. He is also a talented actor and provides much of the comic relief in the film. Stromberg seemed quite aware of this during the Q&A when he made the all-too-true remark.
“Filmmakers tend to be good actors. That’s a thing that we learned in college.”
They also clearly learned how to make an excellent film and leave a strong impression on all those in attendance at April’s Filmadelphia event.
Davis Rivera is the recipient of the Marguerite & Otis Walter Scholarship for Excellence in Art History, founded the UArts Literary Society, recently completed a book on the last American auteur, and is working on two films to be released this spring. He lives and works in Philadelphia, PA.
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