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Friday, Sept. 28, 2012

Andy Gillies’ ‘Unpronounceable’ Film

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Andy Gillies’ new film, Oconomowoc, is a comedy about growing up and staying grown up. The film chronicles Lonnie (Brendan Marshall-Rashid), a 20-something who moves back home and reluctantly joins his friend’s struggling T-shirt business. Oconomowoc uses a close-knit cast and organically conceived music to puzzle over economics, friendship and life.

Why name the film “Oconomowoc”?

I named it that for several reasons. One was that after spending many years there, I fell in love with the place. It’s homage to the beauty of Oconomowoc. The film is also about a lot of different, easily misinterpreted ideas, and we thought that the unpronounceability of the name sort of fit into that theme. There are very few people that I have run into that know how to pronounce it—like one in 20.

What inspired you to make this film?

It’s an assertive comedy. I started writing this film probably six years ago. Originally it was a story about misrepresented identity. As it progressed, the film became more and more, almost of its own accord, about people doing what they need to do to survive. The idea of the current economic climate became a part of the film in a very fragmented way.

How was it cast?

Brendan, who plays the main character Lonnie, is my roommate. He’s great, and one of my best friends. The entire cast was open to trying new things. We all relied on each other. It allowed for very real performances.

You are also in the film.

That was an experience, and I had help. When I was acting Lonnie’s friend Travis, Joe Haas, the camera operator, would film me and then review the footage and figure out what we needed. We would then move forward. It was stressful.

You also made the film’s soundtrack. How was that?

Making the music was a lot of fun and also eye-opening. Eighty-five percent of the music was improvised. From watching the film and deciding what would fit, the music just sort of flowered. We used guitar, electric and acoustic, drums, keyboard and piano. Weird stuff was also brought in. There are some scenes where we would clap our chests or hands to create percussion.

When can audiences see this film?

We are excited to get it to the festivals. Maybe by the end of this year it will be in Milwaukee.
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