When Brendan Boogie wrote his feature-length directorial debut Sundown, the storyline was deeply personal in nature. While mostly a fictional story focusing on a son helping to care for his father with dementia, the Hanover native drew a lot of the emotion and detail from his own experiences with the disease, as his father suffered from the same illness for over a decade before his passing in October 2015.
Sundown, which is now available to stream for free on Amazon Prime, currently has a 4.8 rating (out of five) with 39 reviews as if press time. The film obviously hits close to home for Boogie and his family, and thanks to the many nods to the commonwealth also displayed in the movie, like Hanover High School, Niko’s Restaurant in Weymouth, and Lynn-based Bent Water Brewing Co., it will for viewers too.
Alongside the film’s star Grayson Powell, an actor and comedian who served a stint as Sam Malone on the national tour of Cheers Live on Stage, local talent fills the credits of the dramedy with Paul E. Kandarian, Zele Avradopoulos, Caitlin Graham, and Anna Rizzo filing out the rest of the main cast, with a number of local faces making cameos throughout the film, including supporting roles credited to The Rationales’ David Mirabella and Boston comedy staples Lamont Price and Nick Chambers.
While he did put out casting calls for most of the roles in the movie, Boogie reached out specifically to both Price and Chambers to fil their roles. He wrote the parts with their humor in mind, and once he read with them on set, there were no second thoughts about their casting.
“I had worked with Nick on another movie I was acting in awhile back, and I’ve known Lamont since I had him on a show I ran at the Lizard Lounge years ago,” Boogie tells Vanyaland. “When you have an actor in a comedy role, the writing only goes to a certain point where the actor has to take the baton and create the character from that point, and Lamont brought a lot of himself and his comic persona to the role, and Nick is a very talented actor, who happens to be really funny, but also brings a depth to his role, as well. Their presence and realness they brought to their roles are more important than any prior acting credits they may have.”
While Sundown isn’t the type of Boston movie we’re used to, veering far away from the neighborhood loyalty and thick accents, it wasn’t through any sort of vendetta against those films that Boogie chose to go in that direction — he was just reflecting on life as he knew it growing up on the South Shore.
“Not everyone from Boston is a Southie gangster with a sense of loyalty to his family,” says Boogie. “That story has been told a hundred times, and while those movies are entertaining, my goal was to reflect life as I know it, and it really wasn’t a conscious choice to stray from stereotypes, because it’s not the world that I know. Because it is such a personal story, and such a family story, it was really all about reflecting reality of growing up in New England without shots of Fenway Park, without overwhelming references to the city, because I don’t feel like my life is overwhelmed with being in Boston.”
Aside from the fact that the only way he could truly reflect on life as he knew it in in New England was to, of course, shoot the movie in New England, Boogie also felt the power of community was a driving force in the creation of the film, where he doesn’t think it would feel quite the same if he were to have made it in Los Angeles or New York.
“Making films in Boston has its challenges, but it also has huge benefits, in the way that the community rallies around you in a way that it doesn’t necessarily do in New York or LA, where everyone is making a movie,” muses Boogie. “I got to film at my high school, and at a diner where they just let us come in because they were excited to have us. I don’t think you’re really able to do that in LA or New York without big money,” he adds. “We also shot a lot of it at my mother’s house, and we used my dad’s bed and his cane, so I really think in order to capture that sort of intimacy, we had to bring it back to where it actually took place.”
While the film is undoubtedly heavy in it’s subject matter, Boogie hopes, at the end of the day, that it helps those dealing with the illness in any capacity to feel some sort of comfort in knowing that they aren’t alone in the fight.
“It’s not a total bummer of a movie, because it does have some laughs and light moments in it, but I do hope that it also serves as sort of a cathartic experience,” he adds. “There’s sadness, but there’s still hope, and that’s the affect that I hope the movie has on people, where they feel connected with the characters, and feel less alone in the struggle.”