A Santa Monica, California native, Schwartz remained close with his high school friends and says his film is about that time in his life. “‘Summer of 8’ is about eight best friends sharing one last summer day together before heading off to college,” said Schwartz. “It’s a special day because they all sort of intuitively know things will never be the same again, so they really try to soak it all in.”
“Summer of 8” stars Shelley Hennig as well as Carter Jenkins (from the upcoming MTV series “Sweet/Vicious”), Matthew Shively, Natalie Hall, Michael Grant, Bailey Noble, Nick Marini, Rachel DiPillo and Sonya Walge. The film has already been written about in Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter, which wrote, “With an appreciation for the bittersweetness of summer’s last rays, first-time director Ryan Schwartz celebrates youth, beauty and mixed emotions over a daylong gathering at the beach. [SUMMER OF 8] strikes universal chords…the cast of twentysomethings deliver effective moments and a credible group chemistry…alive with flirtatious uncertainty.”
With Schwartz’s release less than a month away, we thought we’d have a chat with the filmmaker to get a little more insight into his debut film.
NYFA has a special thanks credit for the film. What was your reasoning behind that?
NYFA is great about encouraging and supporting its faculty. They also provided grip and electric equipment, which I will be forever grateful for.
Can you tell us how you secured distribution for this film? What was that process like?
We shot most of film in Newport Beach, CA, and fittingly we premiered in April at the Newport Beach Film Festival. It was a blast. Most of the cast and crew came out and we sold out both shows. After our screenings we had several sales agents and distributors approach us. We were absolutely thrilled that FilmBuff decided to take us on.
Were there any lessons you learned from making this film that you were (or will be) able to pass on to your students?
I would say there’s two things that really crystalize for me. The first lesson is quite simple: there is no magic fairy dust secret to making good movies. People make movies. If you want to make a good movie, you need to surround yourself with talented, smart, generous, wonderful people. If you do that, you have a chance. If you don’t, you don’t. I am so grateful to my unbelievable cast, and to my entire crew who worked tirelessly for very little money.
Which brings me to my next lesson: in the world of low budget filmmaking, the most important currency you have to offer is your passion/energy for the project and your gratitude for those who have rallied around you. That passion and gratitude is really the fuel that keeps everyone going.
What advice do you have for filmmakers who are getting ready to shoot their first feature?
Take a lot of deep breaths and trust that you’re ready. We shot “Summer of 8” at a lightning pace…10 days! Things were moving so fast. The key for me was to stay calm and collected, stay truly ‘in the moment.’ And to remember, I’ve spent my entire life fighting for this opportunity. It was finally here, so I made sure to enjoy every moment of it. And I did. It was an absolute blast.