East Of Middle West
EAST OF MIDDLE WEST combines the rural aesthetic charm of MUD along with the generational trauma and grit of PLACE BEYOND THE PINES. As a slowburn crime drama, this film builds on the characters’ harboring of dark secrets leading to a rampage of destructive paths that culminate in an explosive fight for freedom. EAST OF MIDDLE WEST explores the complexities of human nature and delicately exposes the struggles of forgiveness.
A teenage boy, a widowed father, and a con artist’s worlds collide after a tragic accident takes the lives of a young child and a mother in a small Midwestern town in the early 90’s. Chris, 17, handsome yet lacking confidence, goes on the run to escape his guilt. Chris’ naïveté and search for acceptance is misplaced in the trust of his con artist uncle, Bill, which propels him into a world of crime. While in hiding, Chris meets Amy, his first love and the niece of the local Sheriff. Chris is torn between his attraction to Amy and his fear of the law. Meanwhile Denny, 35, a widower in mourning, returns to his old drinking habits as a vice to numb the pain and atone for his past sins. Chris and Denny, connected through tragedy, search for a means to escape their past and find redemption.
Inspiration behind East of Middle West - Director4 months ago
A woman was driving home from her nieces’ recital one night, only to have a 20 lb. frozen turkey fly through her windshield and crush her face. On that same night a teenage boy was out on a drunken joyride with some friends and made a choice that forever changed his life… he throws a frozen turkey.
What surprised me most when I first heard this story wasn’t the fact that a woman almost died by a teen’s drunken mistake, but when the boy was facing a 20-year prison sentence for attempted murder, the woman chose to do something inconceivable. She forgave the teenage boy in court and spared him from the crushing sentence. This story of forgiveness inspired me as much as it troubled me. It got me asking questions such as:
Is forgiveness truly possible for everyone? What holds us in resentment? Who is the hardest person to forgive?
When I moved to Los Angeles in 2017, these questions had now taken a creative life of their own. I called my long-term writing partner Mokotsi Rukundo and pitched him the idea. He instantly took to it. Two years later, after several scripts and a proof of concept, we had money to start filming.
My approach in telling this story was for there to be a level of familiarity for the audience. From the setting to the lighting, to the actors’ performance. I wanted the audience to feel that they’ve passed through this town, or knew that couple, or maybe, they’ve been that kid.
Making this film was a journey in itself. We were able to make the film in 21 days with 21 company moves. To say this was an ambitious film would be an understatement. This story is a journey expressed both inwardly and outwardly, and it would have been impossible to express that truth without having such extremely talented actors and crew. I hope that this film helps showcase the delicate nature of forgiveness and inspires the audience to empathetically explore the complexity of human nature.