Arts and Entertainment

Young director meets old goats

Britton Crosley, Bob Burkholder and David VanderWal aren
Britton Crosley, Bob Burkholder and David VanderWal aren't actors, but take center stage in 'Old Goats.'
— image credit: Old Goats photo / oldgoatsthemovie.com

For an island with a considerable farming community, goats aren’t anything new. But some of Bainbridge’s “old goats” have impressed audiences all over the nation.

The film “Old Goats” tells the story of three men living into their golden years. Bob, Britt and Dave have all retired and spend their days trying to figure out what to do next.

“Even at that older age people are still pretty much feeling and thinking the same things. ‘What am I going to do with my life?’” said director Taylor Guterson.

Guterson, 31, graduated from Bainbridge High School in 1999. He knew at a young age that he wanted to get into the film business after a visit to the set of his father’s movie, “Snow Falling on Cedars” by author David Guterson.

“I was attracted to movie making for all kinds of different reasons, the wrong reasons,” Guterson said. “I was attracted to the spectacle of how a big Hollywood movie was made, and all the glamour.”

“When I decided I wanted to make movies,

I found out really quickly that it wasn’t like that at all,” he added.

Fortunately for Guterson, the reality of film making, as shocking as it was, didn’t deter him.

It turns out, the reality of filmdom has an attraction that’s far greater than the glamour.

He spent years making short films and working in the industry. But Guterson wanted to make something of his own. “Old Goats” was the answer.

It was somewhat of a simple answer. Pulling from his hometown of Bainbridge Island, he was able to assemble a cast of locals and shoot the film for free at most locations.

The presentation of the film is similar to a documentary film. At times the audience may feel as if they are watching the real lives of the characters on the screen.

In a way, they are. While putting the film together, Guterson wrote the lives of islanders Bob Burkholder, Britton Crosley and David VanderWal into the movie.

“Particularly Bob Burkholder,” Guterson said. “Pretty much, his memoirs are featured in the movie. All the historical pictures of him are really him. And we did go with him to his choir class.”

The film takes on a very genuine feel from its island actors, who aren’t really actors.

While Guterson did write a script, he mostly plugged in the three men as they are in real life.

It worked well for the film which didn’t have much money to pay professional actors. In fact “Old Goats” has made a buzz for itself on its price tag alone — a mere $5,000, which might as well be nothing in Hollywood.

Yet the end result was something special. Not that Guterson knew right away.

“When we were making it, I would tell everyone that there is a good chance no one would see this movie,” Guterson said.

With so many independent films being made each year, Guterson knew the uphill battle of getting a non-studio picture noticed. Turns out, it was a hill perfect for “Old Goats.”

The film was initially rejected by a few festivals. But then it was accepted into the Atlanta Film Festival, and from there, it just took off.

“When it got into some of the bigger film festivals it was a bit of a surprise,” Guterson said.

“When I got into the Atlanta Film Festival, I knew the thing had legs,” he said.

“Old Goats” made it into festival after festival, picking up its fair share of awards along the way. It proved to be a popular hit among the indie circuit.

Now, it has also proved to be a popular draw at the Uptown Theater in Seattle. Another independent theater in Palm Springs has also scheduled screenings of the film.

With the film winning over audiences and spreading around the country, Guterson was surprised.

But still, one amazing thing remains for the Bainbridge-based film.

“The crazy thing is it has never been seen on Bainbridge Island,” Guterson said. “It has been seen all over the country, but not here.”

Not for long.

The Lynwood Theatre will begin showing “Old Goats” at 2:30 p.m., 4:45 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7.

Guterson will be present for the 7 p.m. screening at the Lynwood Theatre on Saturday, Sept. 8.

Despite all the attention the film has gotten so far, Guterson thinks Bainbridge will enjoy “Old Goats” for what it is, and not the media buzz it has garnered so far.

“The predominant story seems to be how it was made, for under $5,000 and no actors,” Guterson said.

“I think there is a lot of value in experiencing what the story has to say. I think there is a human story there.”

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