One of the things I love most about movies is the way you feel when you’re done watching them. There are so many emotions that can be experienced in a variety of ways, it’s a remarkable journey each time. Buddymoon, the new film by Alex Simmons, not only has intriguing emotions related to the story, but the friendship and love wrapped around filming finds its way into the audience’s hearts.
Buddymoon is a movie about friendship. When David’s (David Giuntoli) fiance leaves him just before their wedding, his best friend Flula (Flula Borg) steps in and rescues him from the sorrow. Flula convinces David that they should not let the honeymoon, a hike through the backcountry of Oregon, go to waste. As you can guess by the names of the characters and the actors, there was more to this story than meets the eye.
I was thrilled when I got the opportunity to chat with Simmons about his film, for this was a film that I really enjoyed. It wasn’t just about a buddy road hike movie, but instead a movie about true friendship. Simmons, Giuntoli, and Borg have known each other for some time now, and have wanted to work with each other since the beginning. Life is never that easy, and it wasn’t until a couple of summers ago that the universe finally opened up time for them.
“We had a two-week window open up for all three of us, which never happens, and we decided this was the time to make a movie, and if we didn’t do it now, it would never happen,” Simmons explains. “We really wanted to make a movie that was fun and entertaining, but we all really strongly believe that for it to be truly funny and enjoyable, it has to be grounded in reality and about believable people.”
Since they had limited time, they pulled their resources together and enlisted some more talented friends. One of the shining examples of this is the casting of Claire Coffee, a fellow Grimm cast mate of Giuntoli. It became an intentional break from their normally dark themed network show and a chance for both of them to use their friendship and talents in new lights.
“We served as our own casting directors for Buddymoon, so we just asked our friends to be in this movie. Lucky for us we have some very talented friends like Claire who were also really generous with their valuable free time,” Simmons says. “I think especially for David it was fun to shoot in such a fast and improvisational way, compared to how an episode of network television is normally shot.”
In more than one way, this film explores the talented cast and allows them to have fun in what they do. My favorite example of this is the Best Man speech delivered by Flula during the middle of the hike. I promise I won’t give anything away, it will still be enjoyed during the viewing, but it brilliance is in need of investigation.
“A friend of ours gave us the idea that we needed to have a best man speech at some point (thanks, Darren). So we built the campfire scene to lead up to that, and then Flula wrote the actual speech himself, on the same cue cards he is reading from in the actual scene, the night before we shot,” Simmons adds.
The element of the film that tied all of it together was the journey of the friends on screen. Since this mimicked the journey of the filmmakers, it was exploration. Not many people would have immediately connected Lewis and Clark and their historical impact to a movie about friends going on a honeymoon together, but watching the film it made complete sense.
“I grew up in Idaho so Lewis & Clark was a big part of my upbringing. We even studied the expedition an entire year of grade school growing up,” Simmons says. “When we were filming Buddymoon, Lewis & Clark were on my mind since we were in the exact locations they traveled through over 200 years ago.”
It’s this element that stuck out the most for me, and from the very beginning I knew I was in for a unique movie trip. The pieces that have the most impact on the viewer tend to be the most personal for the filmmaker. With adding the element of his childhood along with his friends, Simmons allowed for the audience to see a road trip film in an entirely different light.
“It wasn’t until after we started editing the movie, and we realized David needed a stronger voice, that I had the idea to interweave the journals of Lewis & Clark and use them almost as David’s internal monologue,” Simmons adds.
Combining elements that these three filmmakers and friends knew allowed for a film that is much more than a buddy picture. They each are hugely talented in their own right, but together are unstoppable. Our hope is that this is just the beginning of projects containing Simmons, Giuntoli, and Borg.
Buddymoon is in limited theatrical release and available on iTunes.
Written by Lisa Mejia
Images provided by Gravitas Ventures