The 1980s were a much simpler time, if the landmark films that emerged from then are any indication. Filled with carefree hookups, final hoorahs, and unruly teenagers fumbling in the dark for a purpose, these coming-of-age comedies defined a generation who didn’t know how to grow up — or just didn’t want to.
One movie currently on its theatrical run is making an attempt to revive that ’80s nostalgia, and as we head into the summer, Pitching Tents’ fun, breezy charm might be just what we need.
Directed by independent filmmaker Jacob Cooney, Pitching Tents brings The Secret Life of the America Teenager’s Michael Grant between the desires of his parent, his guidance counselor, and himself. To escape, him and his buddies head on a camping trip for a Linklater-esque booze-filled weekend, dripping with retro raunchiness perfect for an unrated film.
The movie, stacked with recognizable faces (Louie’s Jim Norton, Twilight‘s Booboo Stewart, and Jonathan Lipnicki from Jerry Maguire), is making its Hudson Valley premiere at Peekskill’s Paramount Theater on May 26. Plus, Cooney, Josh Caras (Boardwalk Empire), Ashley Kate Adams (The Incredible Kimmy Schmidt), and additional cast will be at the premiere for a post-screening Q&A.
For a look at how it all came together, check out our chat with Cooney below.
What kind of feel or atmosphere were you trying to bring audiences with the tagline, “It was a simpler time…”?
We were definitely trying to bring back that ’80s teen comedy feel. Example-wise, we were looking at Dazed and Confused, Say Anything, The Breakfast Club, that kind of tone. So far we’ve been told that we hit that on the nose.
It’s more than just an ’80s-themed comedy. It has a lot of heart, and overall its about following your dreams. You see [Grant’s character] trying to figure out what he’s going to do with his future by way of this last hoorah party weekend in high school.
Is this story influenced by any particular life experiences of your own?
It does mirror a lot of my story getting into the arts, but it was the writers who where in high school during the ’80s and they pulled from their experiences.
As an independent filmmaker, what was it like getting the star-studded cast that you have?
We had our dream list and we started making our way down that list. You always start big and you go from there.
What we found in our cast was exactly what the movie needed. It has the right experience, the right heart, the right comedy beats, and the right dramatic feel for what this film has. We set out to get veteran actors and also new comers and found a really nice balance with that.
John Lipnicki has been hitting the ground hard right now, getting into the mainstream swing of things. We are very lucky to have him on this movie. I had done a movie before this and one of the producers was a friend of his. I met him, we hit it off and the rest is on the screen!
How can people watch the movie, and what about those who miss the premiere?
It’s in the middle of its theatrical run. We premiered it in LA on March 31 and then we opened it in theaters April 1 in LA and a number of other cities. And since then we’ve spanned into over 30 different cities. Tomorrow is our New York premiere at Cobble Hill Cinemas in Brooklyn and we have the Hudson Valley premiere on the 26.
On June 6 we have our VOD and digital release. And then DVD and Blu-ray will be after that, tentatively August.