The following is an interview with Darren Coyle regarding the recent release of his film, Chasing Sunshine. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Coyle about the inspiration behind this project, his creative process in working with the cast and crew to bring the story to life, the impact that the film may have with readers, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Your film, Chasing Sunshine, was recently released via video on demand platforms. For our readers who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the premise of the film, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Darren Coyle: THE PREMISE OF THE FILM IS THAT OUR TWO MAIN CHARACTERS, DARCY AND JACK, EMBARK ON A SEARCH FOLLOWING CLUES ON A SCAVENGER HUNT ALL OVER THE SAN FERNANDO VALLEY IN LOS ANGELES. THE HUNT WAS SET UP BY DARCY’S SECRET ADMIRER, AND THEY ARE HOPING TO DISCOVER THEIR MYSTERIOUS HOST’S IDENTITY AT THE END. AND DARCY IS HOPING SHE’LL FIND TRUE LOVE.
I WAS INSPIRED TO WRITE THIS STORY, BECAUSE I WANTED TO CREATE A FUN, RANDOM, AND COMEDIC STORY ABOUT TWO PEOPLE WHO REALLY EXPERIENCE AND EXPLORE A CRAZY DAY. AND I WROTE THE TWO MAIN CHARACTERS AS A WHITE LESBIAN AND A BLACK MAN SO THAT IT WOULD BE A STORY THAT CELEBRATES DIVERSITY. IT’S A STORY THAT IS TOLD BY OUR MAIN CHARACTERS BUT IT’S NOT A STORY THAT IS DEFINED BY THEM. IT’S NOT A STORY ABOUT BEING BLACK OR BEING GAY. IT’S JUST A STORY ABOUT TWO PEOPLE WHO HAPPEN TO BE BLACK AND GAY. YES, THOSE TWO THINGS COME INTO PLAY, BUT THAT’S NOT WHAT DEFINES THEM OR CRAFTS THE STORY.
IT’S A STORY ABOUT LOVE AND HOPE – WITH A FEW LAUGHS ALONG THE WAY. AND THAT’S A HUMAN STORY – UNDEFINED BY RACE OR SEXUALITY.
BD: As the writer and director of the film, what can you share about your experience in working with the cast and crew on the production?
DC: AS A WRITER, I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH THE VALUE OF THE PROCESS. I TEAMED UP WITH KASSIE, ONE OF THE CO-STARS OF THE MOVIE, VERY EARLY ON. SHE’S A FRIEND OF MINE FROM BACK IN OUR NEW YORK CITY DAYS. AND SHE’S OBVIOUSLY AN ACTRESS OUT IN L.A. NOW. I PITCHED HER THE ORIGINAL SCRIPT THAT I WROTE, AND SHE WAS ON BOARD… BUT SHE AND I BOTH KNEW THE SCRIPT NEEDED WORK. OVER THE COURSE OF NINE MONTHS, KASSIE HELPED ME TO ARRANGE TWO TABLE READS WITH ACTOR FRIENDS OF HERS. AND HEARING THE WORDS OUT LOUD AND GETTING FEEDBACK FROM THE ACTORS WAS INVALUABLE. IT GAVE ME SO MUCH FEEDBACK TO WORK FROM AS A WRITER. I CANNOT STRESS THAT ENOUGH. WE HAD THE BENEFIT OF THIS PROCESS AND IT MADE THE SCRIPT SO MUCH STRONGER AND BETTER. NINE MONTHS LATER, AND NINE DRAFTS LATER, WE HAD A GREAT SCRIPT THAT I FELT WAS WORTH THE MONEY AND RESOURCES TO FILM. IF YOU’RE A WRITER AND HAVE ACTOR FRIENDS, DO THIS. IT WILL GIVE YOU GREAT FEEDBACK.
AS A DIRECTOR… I HAD MADE A BUNCH OF SHORT FILMS, AND I HAD DIRECTED SOME TELEVISION ALSO – BUT A FEATURE FILM IS A DIFFERENT ANIMAL. BUT I HAD THE BENEFIT OF DIRECTING MY OWN SCRIPT, AS WELL. I HAD THE BENEFIT OF GREAT CASTING AND A LOT OF PRE-PRODUCTION. ONE OF OUR EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS CHRISTY THORNTON (WHO’S THE HEAD OF CREATIVE AT LEVEL FORWARD) LIKES TO SAY, “FIX IT IN PRE,” AND SHE’S RIGHT. (AS OPPOSED TO THOSE PEOPLE THAT SAY, “FIX IT IN POST.”) THE MORE YOU CAN PLAN IN PRE-PRODUCTION, THE FEWER PROBLEMS YOU’LL HAVE ON SET. I STORY-BOARDED ALL THE SCENES AND VISITED THE LOCATIONS WITH MY TEAM SO THAT THERE WERE NO SURPRISES.
ALSO, THE CHEMISTRY BETWEEN KASSIE AND TREVOR WAS SO GREAT. I BASICALLY JUST TRIED TO STAY OUT OF THE WAY AND LET THEM DO THEIR MAGIC. PROPER CASTING IS 90% OF A DIRECTOR’S JOB.
BD: Likewise, what were some of your influences?
DC: I HAVE A LOT OF INFLUENCES IN MY WRITING AND MY SENSE OF HUMOR AND STORY. BUT ON THIS PARTICULAR STORY… AND I KNOW IT WILL SOUND WEIRD… I WAS INFLUENCED A LOT BY THE MOVIE, SWINGERS, WHICH IS A FILM THAT I KNOW VERY WELL AND LOVE. I KNOW IT SOUNDS COUNTER-INTUITIVE, BUT THE STORY OF SWINGERS IS BASICALLY AN ODD COUPLE, BUDDY MOVIE WHERE WE FOLLOW TWO CHARACTERS JUST TRYING TO FIND THEMSELVES AND DISCOVER THEIR VALIDITY.
WHENEVER I ENCOUNTERED DIFFICULTY IN MY WRITING, I JUST REFERRED TO SWINGERS AND ASKED MYSELF: “HOW DID THEY DO IT RIGHT WHERE I AM GOING WRONG?” AND I DISCOVERED THAT VULNERABILITY AND HOW YOU PRESENT IT IS AT THE CORE OF COMEDY (AND DRAMA, FOR THAT MATTER). I HAD TO MAKE THE CHARACTERS VULNERABLE AND HUMBLE – BECAUSE THAT SPEAKS TO THE CORE OF BEING HUMAN.
BD: At Fanbase Press this year, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Chasing Sunshine’s story will connect with and impact readers, and why do you feel that this story was important for you to bring to life?
DC: WE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO SCREEN AT THE 2019 OMAHA FILM FESTIVAL. THEY HAVE A GREAT PROGRAM WHERE THEY BRING IN A LOT OF AREA MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS CALLED THE O.F.F. ACADEMY. THE STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN FILM WORKSHOPS AND STUFF THROUGHOUT THE FESTIVAL TO LEARN ABOUT FILMMAKING FROM THE FESTIVAL FILMMAKERS. IT’S A GREAT PROGRAM! EACH STUDENT IS GIVEN A COUPLE OF SMALL, METAL MEDALLIONS THAT HAVE THE WORD “IMAGINE” PRINTED ON THEM, AND THEY ARE ENCOURAGED TO GIVE THEM TO THE FILMMAKER THAT INSPIRES THEM AND THEIR IMAGINATION.
I WAS GIFTED THREE OF THE MEDALLIONS FROM THREE DIFFERENT STUDENTS DIRECTLY AFTER OUR SCREENING. THESE STUDENTS TOLD ME HOW MUCH THEY WERE INSPIRED BY THE MOVIE AND THE STORY. THEY TOLD ME THAT IT WAS ENCOURAGING TO SEE A STORY TOLD BY AND ABOUT TWO CHARACTERS WHO WERE SUPPOSEDLY “MINORITY” CHARACTERS, AND THE STORY WASN’T ABOUT THEM BEING “MINORITIES”. THEIR CHARACTERS WERE A GIVEN, AND THE STORY WAS ABOUT THEM JUST BEING HUMAN BEINGS. I KNOW IT’S A COMEDY, AND I DIDN’T SET OUT TO MAKE A STATEMENT ABOUT SOCIETY, BUT I WAS INSPIRED BY THESE STUDENTS WHO WERE ENCOURAGED TO SEE A STORY TOLD FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE THAN ALL THE HOLLYWOOD STUDIO MOVIES USUALLY TELL.
SO, THIS IS A LONG-WINDED WAY OF ME SAYING THAT I FELT THIS WAS A STORY THAT WAS IMPORTANT TO BRING TO LIFE, BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN DIVERSITY IN FRONT OF (AND BEHIND) THE CAMERA. AND I THINK IT LANDED WITH SOME OF THE STUDENTS AT THE OMAHA FILM FESTIVAL. I HOPE YOUR READERS WILL FEEL THE SAME.
BD: In light of the film’s release, you are currently offering new viewers a special offer. What can you tell us about the opportunity, and how can they make use of the discount?
DC: THANKS FOR ASKING! WE ARE GOING TO BE POSTING CHASING SUNSHINE ON OTHER VOD PLATFORMS IN THE COMING MONTHS, BUT WHILE WE WAIT ON THAT AND THE WHOLE COVID-19 QUARANTINE TO END, WE FELT IT WAS A GOOD TIME TO RELEASE OUR MOVIE ON THE VIMEO ON DEMAND PLATFORM AT A 50% OFF DISCOUNT, SO PEOPLE WOULD HAVE SOMETHING NEW TO WATCH WHILE THEY WAIT IN THEIR HOUSES AND WAIT OUT THIS CRAZY TIME WE ARE LIVING IN. IT’S A #STAYATHOME ADVANCE RELEASE.
PEOPLE CAN GO TO WWW.CHASINGSUNSHINEMOVIE.COM AND RENT OR PURCHASE / DOWNLOAD THE FILM AND WATCH IN THE COMFORT OF THEIR HOME. WHETHER IT BE ON THEIR TV, TABLET, PHONE OR WHATEVER.
AND SINCE WE ARE AN INDIE MOVIE AND ARE CONDUCTING A GRASSROOTS MEDIA CAMPAIGN, WE WOULD APPRECIATE IF ANYONE LIKES THE MOVIE, TO PLEASE SHARE THE LINK WITH THEIR FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
DC: I AM ALWAYS WRITING NEW STUFF. SINCE I HAVE WORKED FOR THE LAST 15 YEARS IN THE UNSCRIPTED WORLD OF REALITY TV, I AM CURRENTLY WRITING A TELL-ALL, MORALITY TALE SCRIPT ABOUT MY EXPERIENCES IN THAT WORLD. WHO KNOWS IF IT’LL GO ANYWHERE, BUT IT’S MY STORY AND I FEEL IT NEEDS TO BE TOLD.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Chasing Sunshine?
DC: IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT CHASING SUNSHINE AND KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST NEWS, YOU CAN FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA: