Steve McMillan is debuting his third film “The Downtime” at Movies 4 in Gulf Breeze this weekend. Most of the movie was filmed in Pensacola—in, around or near some pretty classic spots like Sir Richard’s. Any and all proceeds garnered from the film will be donated to Movies 4, in hopes they can raise enough money to keep from closing. Prior to this weekend’s screenings, McMillian took a few moments to chat with the IN about the movie’s soundtrack, filming in bars and a certain dry cleaners no one can seem to pinpoint.
IN: Let’s start with you telling you us what the film’s about.
McMillan: Well, short answer is that it’s about loneliness. I think with this movie, and also with the last one “Young Man Blues,” which was more about honesty, it’s not just that I’m making movies about emotions, it’s that I’m trying to make a movie about these short periods that happen in your life. This movie is about a guy who is very unhappy with his life. He’s about to break up with his girlfriend and is going to return to his hometown for a few days. The last movie I made was kind of about what happens at the beginning of a relationship, and this is more about the end of it and what happens after.
IN: Was it all filmed locally? And with local actors?
McMillan: Most of it is shot in Pensacola, there’s some stuff that’s shot in Navarre, and a scene that takes place inside the Movies 4. And yes, the actors are all local. We didn’t fly anyone in. Brandon Clarkson and Sara Nicole Storm are the main characters. And Paul Meyers is in two scenes, although he’s moved away now.
IN: The opening scene takes place in a dry cleaners. Where is that?
McMillan: It’s funny, everyone wants to know where that dry cleaners is. It’s probably a place that a lot of people drive by all the time. It’s on the corner of Garden Street and the road with the train tracks, Tarragona. Vick’s Dry Cleaners.
IN: I also noticed that there’s a quick scene shot in Sir Richard’s. Did you just bust in there on a Saturday night and hope for the best or was it a little more planned?
McMillan: I actually think it might have been a Wednesday night, but Brandon and Paul were going to go there to try and discuss a music video that Brandon was going to make for Paul, and I thought I’d just go along and film them hanging out and maybe I could use it for the movie later. I got really lucky though, because no one was playing the jukebox so the only noise was just everyone talking. I didn’t have to edit out Lady Gaga playing loudly or anything.
IN: How long did it take you to film and go through the editing process?
McMillan: We started shooting last July and then the last day of filming was in November. It was only 18 single days of filming though, spread out over five months. My computer actually crashed after editing it, and I had to completely re-edit everything. I feel like I was able to look at it with new eyes though, and that it made it a better movie.
IN: You’ve got a Blind Willie McTell song playing in the opening credits. Would you say this movie has a distinctive soundtrack?
McMillan: Yes, there’s a bunch of blues music in the movie. I was going to use the McTell song “Statesboro Blues” in my last movie, but for some reason it ended up working better with this one. I was able to find lots of public domain blues songs that I could use legally. There are also several songs by The Acorns, a Pensacola band, and then I used some from Algebra Suicide, Safe Words and Mississippi John Hurt.
IN: Anything specific you want to add in or make sure people know about this film?
McMillan: Aside from making a movie and wanting to show people, I think we really need to support Movies 4. It’s the only local, independent movie theater around. If we don’t support it, it won’t exist anymore. The film will be debuting there on Friday for free and Saturday for $5. Friday night we will still be accepting donations, and all the proceeds from the weekend will go toward helping the cinema raise enough money to buy a digital projector, which they need in order to stay open, since all new films are being produced digitally now.
WHAT: “The Downtime” Premiere
WHERE: Movies 4 Gulf Breeze, 1175 Gulf Breeze Pkwy.
WHEN Friday Feb. 28, 8:30 p.m.; Saturday March 1, 9 p.m.
COST: Friday is free, Saturday is $5 (donations for Movies 4 Gulf Breeze will be accepted on Friday)
INFO: facebook.com/thedowntimemovie, movies4gulfbreeze.webs.com