By Erica Fugger
The film begins simply enough: a collection of friends—and a transfer student—work together on a group project for a college course on religion. Personal histories surface from the start, with ex-lovers, Sky (Eric Lewis) and Eden (Jen Bailey), throwing stabs at each other playfully, while transfer student, Sylvia (Leigh Dunham), ventures to catch onto their inside jokes and rules of meal etiquette.’
Yet, as the film ensues, what results from the delay of schoolwork is more than just the typically categorized college experience. Discussions within the group take on a more serious tone, as entwined with personal squabbles are seamlessly developing reflections on politics, media, drugs, gossip, history, sexuality, jobs, college, and modern society.
With emblematic lines such as, “The smarter I get, the dumber I become” and, “The moment you stop judging people and start caring about them is the first day of your life,” the debating characters demonstrate contrasting youthfulness and maturity, while reflecting upon the issues affecting contemporary America.
As the students move from discussions of general societal contradictions to their own personal hypocrisies, they finally come around to completing their course assignment through a series debates on the foundations of religion and the ignorance of their own generation.
Self-reflective, yet, all encompassing, I’m Just Saying captures the struggle of today’s college students, caught between the sophomoric pleasures of youth and the search to find their place in society amongst preconceived expectations and a vast history of culture.
In corresponding with writer and director, Brian Douglas, Douglas spoke of his search to create something “genuine, honest and believable for all types of beliefs.” His vision was to incorporate both humor and stimulate thought in a “non-preachy” way.
Douglas first wrote a book, which he later adapted to a somewhat condensed screenplay, the end result becoming the final product of his independent film. The director’s shortened version of his original story shifted the development of the characters’ beliefs and interactions into a comprehensible setting carried forth by his “incredible cast.”
Filmed in only nine days, Douglas brings to life his vision of the especially “unfair and unjustified” realities facing modern society in hopes that the audience will “see an issue in a new light, maybe one they never thought of before.” Defying the screenplay etiquette barring discussion of taboos, Douglas demonstrates the seemingly unavoidable hypocrisies each person faces throughout life.
In giving advice to all aspiring filmmakers this director recommended, “It might sound cliché, but the reality is you just have to follow your dreams.” Douglas further stated that no one else is out there to “make them [your dreams] happen for you” and that there are so many resources available to allow for film production on all levels. He especially recommends learning about sound usage, and utilizing “Final Cut” and “Soundtrack Pro” in order to create an agreeable final product.
Winner of the Gold Kahuna Award in the Honolulu Film Festival, Bronze Medal for Excellence Director’s Choice in the Park City Film Music Festival, 2010 Moondance International Film Festival Finalist (among other accolades), I’m Just Saying challenges societal norms and contradictions in order to deliver a seemingly atypical, yet essentially truthful, college experience.
Douglas’s final words of wisdom: “To those who are politically active. . .don’t ever stop pushing those around you, no matter what your beliefs, because it is you who will change the world.”