With apologies to Thomas Wolfe, a new film with life in Vermont at its core challenges the famous writer’s notion that you can’t go home again.
The movie is called Loser’s Crown, and digs deep into the conflicted feelings many young Vermonters may have about whether to seek a life and career far away from the familiar Green Mountains, or embrace the place that, in many ways, will always feel like home.
VPR's Mitch Wertlieb spoke with the film's writer, director, and star Colin Thompson, who grew up in Shelburne, and says while the character he plays is fictional, the film explores conflicts Thompson has faced in his own life.
“Absolutely, it is semi-autobiographical but my producing partner, Myles Jewell, he always has to remind me every time we’re talking about it and every time somebody asks me something that’s a direct question, ‘it’s not you, you’re not Kevin'. It’s important to create that divide. But it is something I went through recently, and this whole project was born of out that freak out of like, all my friends have mortgages, and they’re starting to have kids, and I don’t have health insurance, I don’t know what a 401K is. And then you’re watching all of your friends, especially friends from home, blossom into adults, and you feel like you’re just treading water wherever you are.”
Much of the scenery will be recognizable to people who live in Champlain Valley. It includes shots of Mount Philo, Shelburne Farms, and Lake Champlain, as well as establishments like The Farmhouse in Burlington and the Old Brick Store in Charlotte, all shot in winter.
“We got so many huge favors from people here in Vermont,” Thompson said, including from his brother, musician Lowell Thompson. “We shot that Farmhouse scene at 7:00 in the morning. He got a band together and just everybody was stepping up.”
There are more family connections in the film, Thompson’s father plays the main character’s father in the movie, and the actors stayed at his Dad's home during the filming.
There are some references and scenes that only Vermonters will get. In one, Kevin drinks Heady Topper with a friend, who reminds him that he can’t get that beer in Los Angeles.
“I wanted an inside Vermonter movie. We screened the movie in Los Angeles and a friend of mine who has never been to Vermont said, ‘Now I’ve been to Vermont, now I’ve been to Vermont in winter so I can check that off of the list.’ They felt like they had a little time capsule to a place they’ve never been,” Thompson explained.
Loser’s Crown also focuses on Kevin’s relationships with women, including a former high school girlfriend.
“It’s less of a movie about growing up and more a movie about, ‘Just grow up, like man, just grow up.’ And his relationship with women has a big deal to do with that. Like, you have to have some tact, some sort of process, some sort of figuring out how to navigate a woman. Just don’t be stupid, just grow up,” Thompson said.
Thompson hopes viewers take away a sense that what you do doesn’t define who you are.
“There’s dignity in so much and you can take pride in so much that’s not just what you’re getting up and going to do every day. But sacrificing and realizing that something’s not working out is not giving up. There’s a lot of dignity in being pragmatic about your life. And it sounds terrible, but having an expiration date on a creative dream, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Thompson said.
The film will be screened next week at the Roxy Theater in Burlington. Then it will be cut to under 100 minutes, and Thompson will peruse the festival circuit to submit the film for a wider audience.
Loser’s Crown was written and directed by and stars Colin Thompson.
Loser's Crown will be screened at the Roxy in Burlington on April 22. Find more information and purchase advance tickets here.
Update 10:23 a.m. April 22, 2014: A second screening at the Roxy has been scheduled for Thursday, April 24. Tickets are available here.