I had the opportunity to interview Dave Boyle, the director/co-writer of one of this year’s SXSW showcase films, Daylight Savings. It’s a loose-sequel to a film he debuted last year at SXSW called Surrogate Valentine. The official synopsis is:
“San Francisco based musician Goh Nakamura (playing himself) is at the height of his career. With a national tour on the horizon and one of his songs being featured in a widely-seen TV commercial, Goh has the life he always wanted. When his long distance girlfriend Erika (AYAKO FUJITANI) abruptly ends their relationship over Skype, Goh feels lost, as though no one could ever heal his broken heart. One night at a party, he meets a fellow indie musician Yea-Ming (playing herself) and an unexpected connection is sparked. Before he knows it, Goh finds himself on the road again, this time accompanied by his irresponsible cousin Mike and in search of a new beginning.”
Richard: What’s up, dude?
Dave Boyle: Not much, how’re you doing?
Richard: Pretty good. How’s it goin’?
Dave: Pretty good! No complaints. Getting ready for a lot of traveling.
Richard: Well, I watched the movie (Daylight Savings) this morning. I haven’t actually seen the first part (Surrogate Valentine), but this one felt like it was a good stand alone film.
Dave: Oh cool! Nice!
Richard: I guess the first question I’ve got is, what inspired you guys to make this story? Like, was it based on any real life situations?
Dave: Yeah it sort of was inspired by real life. I mean, a lot of the inspiration behind it was just, you know, the first one, Surrogate Valentine was autobiographical for both, both me and Goh. And then, while we were making that movie, it just seemed like so much was happening in both of our lives that we felt like the story about the fictional Goh was not over yet, and we wanted to keep going, so, you know, it’s not really strictly taking from real life, it’s just from an exaggerated mix of a lot of things that had happened to both of us, as well as the other writers, Mike Lerman, and Joel Clark. Then, you know, I was really inspired by people that I meet, and places that I go to, and the whole section of the movie that takes place in San Juan Bautista, Goh’s music producer is this guy named Kurt Kurasaki, and he lives out there in San Juan Bautista, and I went to visit him, and spent some time in the town, and thought it was really atmospheric, and kind of a cool place. So the wheel started turning and we decided that we wanted to film a lot of the film there. Goh had been sort of banished from San Francisco or something, and he was kinda, you know, in a world that was really unfamiliar to him.
Richard: Do you think there’s going to be a third one? Like, are you going to make it a full trilogy?
Dave:I think so. I mean, what we’re doing is basically going through kick-starter campaigns for each step of the way. If people want the third one to happen, then we’ll do it. We’re just kind of easing it by command, I guess. We’d really like to keep making movies together. I mean, this whole thing kind of started as an experiment, because I was in a place where I was attached to direct some bigger budget projects, that were taking a lot of time to come together so I was just kind of tired of not making a film, so we just did something that we knew we could do really fast, and for not a whole lot of money. We kind of exceeded beyond our expectations. We weren’t really expecting to get into SXSW or any other film festivals. Even before that, in post production, we were talking about how um, I mean, for me, it was really fun to make something where, I wasn’t answering to, you know, a studio where the expectations, or the financial expectations were pretty low. I could experiment and pretty much do whatever I wanted. And for Goh it was his first time scoring a feature film. For both of us, it was just something really special and we really wanted to keep going. And the Goh Nakamura of the movie is this kind of character that I think is closest to me, of all the characters that I’ve had in my films, and so, it would be fun to revisit every couple of years, and see what’s happening.
Richard: So Goh’s character is more like you, than he is to himself?
Dave: He’s definitely not the same as the real Goh Nakamura, and he’s not 100% like I am, but he has some of both of our qualities, I’d say. So yeah, it’s just kind of autobiographical for both us, but it’s also highly fictionalized.
Richard: Do you think, if there’s going to be a third one, the ringtone’s going to be in?
Dave: (Laughs) I guess, yeah.
Richard: So I’m noticing that a lot of your films have a strong connection with the Asian community, which I think is pretty cool. I was wondering where that connection comes from?
Dave: Well, my very first movie was called Big Dream In Little Tokyo and that was probably, out of all my movies, the one that had the most culture, I guess. The whole movie was about cultural differences, and that kind of thing, and I made that movie based very very loosely on my experience learning to speak Japanese when I was a Mormon missionary in Australia, many many years ago. It was just sort of a thing I stumbled upon, that I was specifically assigned to work in the Japanese/Polynesian neighborhood. I didn’t know any Japanese or anything like that. I didn’t know anything about the Asian culture. I was just kind of thrown into it. So then I learned to speak Japanese fluently and it became a part of my life. And in making that film, I met a lot of really amazing Japanese actors who are L.A. based. One in particular was named Hiroshi Watanabe, who I was really impressed with. Shortly after we worked together, he got cast as one of the leads in in Letters From Iwo Jima and I thought he’d be really great in a comedy, so I structured my next movie around him, and that was called White On Rice. And then I actually met Goh at the premiere of White On Rice in San Francisco in 2009. And that’s when he and I started getting to know each other. So you know, I was touring for my movie that whole year, and he was touring for his album that whole year, and we kept crossing paths. We worked together on a music video, and he wrote a jingle to help me promote White On Rice when we were doing the theatrical release, and we just got to be friends, so eventually I asked him to collaborate on a movie, and I think he thought I was going to ask him to score it, but I actually wanted him to star in it, so, it’s been kind of a serendipitous thing you know, I just tend to look for the lead characters on my movies just among the people that I know or the people that I meet.
Richard: Cool, cool cool.
Dave: It just kind of happens that way, you know.
Richard: Yeah. So, do you have any funny or interesting behind the scenes stories from filming Daylight Savings or anything?
Dave: (laughs) Let’s see. Um, well we had a great time making it, even though it’s not necessarily like, a… jovial movie, you know?
Richard: (laughs) Yeah
Dave: At one point we finished the shoot, and there were a couple of scenes left that we didn’t get around to shooting, so we were going to go on hiatus for a couple of months, and I don’t know what Goh was thinking, but the first thing he did when we wrapped, was go out and get a hair cut. Not just like a trim, but like 3 to 4 inches off. The next time I saw him, I was just like, “Dude! What were you thinking?” (laughs) So when we went to film those last few scenes, it wasn’t that much, but it was, you know, it wasn’t like I could have him wearing a safari hat, or anything like that. So we had to have somebody put in all these hair extensions for him, to make it, (laughs) to make it match. So yeah, I still give him a lot of crap for that. That’s like the director’s worst nightmare.
Richard: (laughs) nice. So I guess the last question I have is, what is your favorite film of all time?
Dave: Oh man. That is a good question. I think that would change every week depending on how you, just depending on when you ask. I’d say The Third Man is probably my favorite film of all time. The Carol Reed film with Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton. I think in terms of, it’s just one of those movies that I could watch in an endless loop and never get tired of it. It’s just got the perfect mix of suspense, humor, and amazing writing. But at the same time it’s also a very visual movie.
Richard: Cool. That’s on Criterion, right?
Dave: It is, yeah!
Richard: Yeah, sweet. I’m a huge Criterion fan. I haven’t actually seen The Third Man yet, but I’ll definitely have to pick it up.
Dave: Oh man, yeah, you gotta check it out. I know right now it’s on Netflix Watch Instantly.
Richard: Cool. Well, that’s pretty much it. Thanks for, you know, talkin’ and stuff! Good luck with the movie. Hopefully everyone digs it.
Dave: I hope so, too! (laughs) Thanks a lot!
Richard: No problem, dude. Have a good day.
Dave: You too.
By Richard Pepper