BETTER START RUNNING
Sometimes a running start… is a better start.
In BETTER STARTRUNNING, an unexpected series of events turns everyday store clerk Harley [Alex Sharp] into a wanted man… and even more unexpectedly, he finds himself on the run with the girl of his dreams (Analeigh Tipton). FBI Agent McFadden [Maria Bello] is determined to crush him and wants to teach her rookie partner [Karan Soni] how it’s done. But while the agents pursue their culprit, our hero has loftier pursuits. He kidnaps his Vietnam vet grandfather [Jeremy Irons] to reunite him with the love of his life, picks up a try-hard beatnik hitchhiker [Edi Gathegi] with a secret of his own, and against all common sense follows a roadside attractions map with a mysterious history. As the agents get closer and closer with every stop, this eclectic band of misfits becomes an unlikely family.
Running Time: 92 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1:78
Exhibition Formats: ProRes Master & DCP
Cast: Alex Sharp, Analeigh Tipton, Edi Gathegi, Karan Soni, Jane Seymour with Maria Bello and Jeremy Irons
Directed by: Brett Simon
Written by: Chad Faust & Annie Burgstede
Produced by: Dawn Bierschwal, Douglas W. Miller, Brianna Lee Johnson, Eric Fischer, Annie Burgstede and Chad Faust
Executive Producers: Christopher Figg, Robert Whitehouse, Martin McCourt, James Bryant, Kathy Morgan, Carl Beyer, Alan Pao, Luke Daniels, Tiffany Boyle, George Parra, Ksana Golod and Jeremy Irons
Brett Simon – Director
Brett Simon is a Javits Fellow, a PhD candidate in Film Studies, and an MFA graduate in Art Practice at UC Berkeley. He graduated from Princeton University in 1997 with a degree in Comparative Literature and Creative Writing. His films and videos have screened in festivals around the world including ResFest, Toronto, Telluride, and Sundance. He won first prize in the Black Maria Film Festival. Since 1998, he has been teaching film history, film theory and video production at UC Berkeley and has since moved to Los Angeles. His films “The Sailor Girl” and “Assassination of High School Principal” as well as his TV Pilot “Playdates” all screened at the Sundance Film Festival. He has also directed numerous music videos including the award winning “Somebody Told Me” for The Killers and is a successful commercial director.
Dawn Bierschwal, p.g.a. – Co-Lead Producer
Before becoming a filmmaker, Dawn was an executive at a Fortune 500 Company with responsibility for a $2.2 billion/year global budget and then a successful entrepreneur who created and grew a unique new business for pregnant women called “Becoming Mom” which was later sold to a company that is franchising her successful business model. She started by writing screenplays and began her foray into film making by directing music videos for international recording artists. Eventually, she moved to feature films and producing which leveraged both her business savy and creativity.
Her first feature was Don Cheadle’s acclaimed “Miles Ahead” on which she was Co-Executive Producer. She also Executive Produced Kevin Hamedani’s award winning “In Her Place” and the TV pilot “Playdates” with Paul Scheer and Paula Gallo which was chosen to premiere at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Next up, Dawn is producing the romantic comedy “Morning After”, the thriller “Garden City Hunt Club” and the crime story “Violation”.
A graduate of Cornell University, Dawn also runs Whip Smart Productions.
Douglas W. Miller, p.g.a. – Co-Lead Producer
After serving five years as a highly decorated Logistics Officer in the United States Marine Corps, including serving in-theater through the duration of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Douglas worked for Unilever in New York and then London, where he ran the global Knowledge Management Group. He left Unilever in to establish his own consultancy, which he later sold to co-found The Aquarius Film Fund in London. As Head of Films for Aquarius he sourced, evaluated and closed twelve sale and leaseback transactions for more than $200 million. This led to a Chief Operating Officer position at Bauer Martinez Studios, where he oversaw the production of six international co-productions, and then Chairman and CEO of The Defender Film Fund where he managed over $300 million worth of investments and the production/financing of thirteen feature films, two of which he wrote himself.
With the changes to the UK tax legislation in 2005, Douglas returned to the United States and resumed a career in technology when he joined Evryx Technologies, Inc, a distressed mobile phone technology company, as CEO. Over the course of 18 months he restructured the company, raised additional financing and eventually orchestrated the sale of the company to a Los Angeles mobile technology conglomerate.
Douglas holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Harvard, studied for an MBA at John Moores Liverpool University, and holds US/UK dual-national citizenship.
I’m drawn to misguided dreamers, harebrained schemes, frustrated desires, and broken dreams. Why else would I become a filmmaker?
BETTER STARTRUNNING is about neglected dreamers traveling through a lost and forgotten America. Their dreams are the myths of the road itself, Bonnie and Clyde in love and on the run, settlers heading west to create a New World, Jack Kerouac’s trip of self discovery, the skip to Oz for whatever you’re missing, and the most misguided of dreams, the perfect family vacation.
BETTER STARTRUNNING is also about the risks and rewards of dreaming big. Harley our heartfelt hero is a stubborn dreamer, unwilling to let reality interfere with his story. If he has any flexibility, it’s in his ability to weave the dreams of others into his own. While he retraces a missed family trip with an outdated map of roadside attractions, he aims to help his grandpa find the one that got away, to help a hitchhiker find his way, and to help the girl of Harley’s dreams get away. Harley served as my role model in directing the film, encouraging me to stay true to my vision, to keep the reality of filmmaking from interfering with our story, while also trying to accommodate the dreams of others, of the actors, of the producers, and of the road itself.
What would Harley do? In making Monumental, this was my driving question. Harley’s passion, sincerity and awkwardness informed almost every decision I made from preproduction to picture lock. Movies tend to be well polished and when they’re not polished they’re stylishly naturalistic and when they’re not stylish they can be ugly or boring. With Harley as my co-pilot, I tried to find a style of visual storytelling that was both awkward and full of wonder. I avoided the virtuoso gestures of steadicam and cranes, and rejected the fashionable realism of the handheld camera. Wide shots are as static as old postcards, occasionally panning (the ugly duckling of camera moves) as if Harley were standing in awe and slowly turning in wonder. How would Harley light a scene? He probably wouldn’t, and so, we rarely did. Harley’s pace set the rhythm of the edit. His heart was my compass through the unknown.
Harley also helped me navigate the well tread ground of some of the film’s pivotal scenes: Boy meets girl. The first time leaving home. First love. All these firsts have been done so many times in movies. In Monumental, I wanted to resist the tug of cliché and also fight the opposing force to be clever. Listening to Harley, I wanted to conjure wonder without being showy, to exude awkwardness without being quirky. I wanted Harley’s firsts, which are familiar movie firsts, to feel foreign, or to quote Foreigner, to feel like the very first time.
Harley’s passion for roadside attractions gave me another touchstone in directing the film. Carhenge. The Wig Wam Motels. The World’s Largest Cigarette Lighter. These attractions are also the creations of passionate dreamers. Who else would spend the time and money on recreating Stonehenge out of abandoned cars in the middle of farmland? Roadside attractions are monuments to dreaming big. As many of these attractions decay or are built over, they also become monuments to broken
dreams, reminders of how small we really are. I tried to document some of these places and their disappearance, without falling into the traps of “ruin porn,” the kitsch of Americana, or the nostalgia for some lost America that never really existed. Harley encouraged me to direct with my heart on my sleeve, to marvel at the dreams of outsiders from the inside, free from affectation, and steering clear of cynicism. I wanted the film itself to resemble a roadside attraction, out of place, out of time, outside the familiar, a beacon for neglected dreamers.
The road awaits. I hope you enjoy the ride.
“A Road Trip Long Awaited”
You and your friend come up with an idea. A wild idea for a film. You have to write it, even though you fear you’ll be the only two people who give a damn.
Ten years later you’re in Louisville, Kentucky, with nearly 100 people who work their hearts out to bring that idea to life.
The journey between these two points is not sexy or glamorous. It’s producers facing impossible obstacles and sacrificing years of their lives. It’s hope followed by crushing disappointment, repeat, repeat, repeat. It’s people rolling their eyes when you say the movie is happening again.
When cameras rolled the first day of production on BETTER STARTRUNNING, this road movie finally hit the asphalt where it long wanted to live. We couldn’t be more thrilled and honored to have worked with such a brilliant and brave cast; a sleepless, innovative crew; and a fearless visionary director. Please join us for the ride.
Chad Faust & Annie Burgstede
with Maria Bello
and Jeremy Irons
Chad Faust and Annie Burgstede
Douglas W. Miller, p.g.a.
Dawn Bierschwal, p.g.a.
Brianna Johnson, p.g.a. & Eric Fisher, p.g.a.
Christopher Figg Robert Whitehouse
Martin McCourt James Bryant Kathy Morgan
Carl Beyer Alan Pao Luke Daniels Tiffany Boyle
George Parra Ksana Golod Jeremy Irons
Music Composed by
Matthew Compton & Matthew Popieluch
Donna Morong, C.S.A.