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‘Autumn Wanderer,’ SA Native’s Award-winning Indie Film, at Blue Star

March 12, 2014

poster art 2Within the first couple minutes of our phone conversation, the star and director of Autumn Wanderer, which screens at Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum for one night next week and will be available via video-on-demand* April 8, was asking me to guess how much it cost to make the dreamy, gorgeous and unsettling film.

“Um …” I fumbled, “I’m the worst person for those kinds of estimates.”

So Nathan Sutton, who plays Autumn’s lead character Charlie, helped me out.

“We shot for 12 days and our budget was $12,000. We only had a four-person crew.” Sutton, who is married to Autumn co-star and San Antonio native Elisha Skorman (a MacArthur and UIW grad), put that into perspective, “Including post-production costs and deliverables, the total cost was $30,000. For most movies, that’s what it would cost to feed a whole crew for one day.”

That’s impressive. Though obviously an art house film, Autumn Wanderer features clever, painterly shots and a washed-out palate befitting of its Los Angeles location. That is to say, it looks high-dollar, thanks to the many, many favors Sutton and Skorman called in as executive producers and veterans of LA’s film industry. However, the subject matter is one unlikely to be coming to a multiplex near you.

Set in an alternate reality LA in which beautiful people read books and have answering machines instead of being tethered to their smartphones (note: that’s not even the trippiest part of this film! Keep reading!), Autumn Wanderer follows Charlie after a rough break-up.

To put it vaguely, Charlie meets a woman, Nia (played by Skorman), who helps him come to terms with who he really is.

Initially, you might think “ugh, low-budge indie flick about intelligent dude and quirky chick meeting cute, she changes his life, he loses her, blah, blah, whatever.”

But both Nia and Charlie have much more going on below the surface. Charlie’s father is in the heavily medicated depths of schizophrenia, and Charlie fears he may suffer the same fate. One of the more heartbreaking scenes occurs when Charlie tells his friend Audrey (a delightful Marianna Palka) that the reason he and his previous long-term girlfriend split is that he wanted to start a family—perhaps because he felt the inheritable disease hanging like the sword of Damocles above his head.

As the film progresses, we’re drawn into Nia and Charlie’s increasingly bizarre relationship, which functions as a proxy for Charlie’s worries about his possible prognosis. “I’m hard to handle,” Nia warns Charlie early on, but neither he nor the audience has any idea how true that is.

* Video-on-demand services scheduled to air this film starting April 8 include Comcast, Time Warner and itunes

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