DIRECTED by: Kyle Eaton

In the wake of personal and professional failure, Anthony retreats to a vacation home where he encounters an estranged friend from his past.

Shut Up Anthony is witty, wry and always entertaining. It hits all the right notes for fans of awkward comedy, such as myself, and marks a solid feature debut for Kyle Eaton.

Film Pulse editor Adam Patterson

Five Questions with Director Kyle Eaton

What was a unique challenge you faced in making this film?

I’d say not having any money — but that’s not a very unique challenge, per se. Due to our limited budget, we were shooting with donated gear and borrowed equipment. As a result, we were unable to shoot consecutively. We divided up our production days into shooting blocks, and filmed with multiple cinematographers over a few weekends. We also rotated much of our crew, based on availability. Obviously, this isn’t a standard way to shoot a movie, so maintaining visual continuity throughout production was a unique challenge. I worked with four exceptional Directors of Photography though, and each of them really pulled it off. I’m very proud of their work.

Where did the inspiration for this film come from?

Many things inspired me to make this film. The narrative came from a lot of my own experiences and relationships from over the years. Although the three main characters have incredibly different ideologies and contrasting worldviews, I identify with each of them. Anthony, Tim and Sam each have their own separate demons that they’re wrestling with, and that’s what makes them feel real to me. I’ve always been drawn to narratives that capture high stake emotions in real life situations — nuanced films like Husbands, Before Sunset, and Greenberg. These movies capture an honest naturalism that’s almost hypnotic. You become immersed, like you’re watching a magic trick.

Who are your top influences?

Yikes, that’s tough.

Oddly, for Shut Up Anthony I was influenced a lot by podcasts and talk radio. Which sure seems counterintuitive to the fundamental, “show don’t tell” rule of movie making, but I was very interested in capturing naturalistic dialogue on screen. The challenge became to develop garrulous yet compelling extended conversation pieces that could live visually but were also hopefully rich listening experiences. Films like My Dinner with Andre, Coffee and Cigarettes, and The Trip are just utterly fascinating to not only watch but to also listen to. Those movies in particular were very helpful to revisit.

Other influences were youth pastors and theology professors that I knew growing up. If you grew up in that world, you get it. Those guys have a way of getting into your head. They influenced Shut Up Anthony a lot, actually. Oh, also Raymond Carver. I’ve always been in awe of how Carver’s short stories balance pathos and comedy.

What do you hope people take away from this film?

I hope that the audience can relate to the characters. And I hope it feels honest. Shut Up Anthony actually explores several heavy subjects: survivor’s guilt, alcoholism, religion, family dynamics… and it’s also a comedy! So, I hope that it will connect with people who have had similar experiences, but make them laugh as well.

What’s your personal takeaway from this production?

Rejection is protection. (I know, I know, a trite saying) But honestly, every time we ran into a “problem” during production, our team always found a solution that was WAY better than whatever our original plan of attack was. Allowing your limitations to guide your creative process is just one of my many personal takeways from this production.

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