Tre

Tre is a film about four 20- or 30-somethings named Tre, Gabe, Kakela, and Nina. Gabe is a horse trainer who is living at his beginning screenwriter girlfriend Kakela’s place, and Nina is staying with them after a falling out with her husband. Gabe’s longtime friend Tre comes to stay as well after breaking up with his girlfriend.

This is director Eric Byler’s third feature film, the first of which was Charlotte Sometimes. Both films have more sex than anything you might call a plot. But the earlier film worked much better for me, I think because the acting was consistently believable, whereas here that was less consistently true.

I saw this on 3/16/2008 at the Camera Cinema Club. I’ll give it a 2.5 stars out of 4 stars.

Eric Byler, the writer/director of the film, was at the screening to answer questions, which he did for quite a while. There are very likely to be spoilers below.

  • He called this an anti-romantic feature
  • The characters are more direct than in Charlotte Sometimes
  • He thinks most people have had a week like this (the audience disagreed): things before lead to it and things afterwards are the result of it
  • Everything really mattered to them at this time
  • This is a sequel, kind of, to Charlotte Sometimes–it did grow out of a workshop that followed that film, from Kimberly’s (the actress who plays Kakela) partial script
  • Kimberly had in mind a small man for Tre, but the actor who showed up was Tre
  • The film was co-written with Kimberly–the director was too embarrassed to write the sex scenes with her there–he played Tre to her Kakela, recorded on tape–he had to keep his eyes closed as they “acted”
  • It was filmed in Calabasas, CA
  • Most of the cast came from a live theater background
  • What did she see in Tre? Her only person to talk to is someone with another agenda
  • The center of Tre’s character is a fear of not being worthy of love
  • Kakela is bi-racial, as is Tre and the director
  • It’s not a story about someone to stay together with forever, but about the people along the way, who really aren’t sure where they fit in
  • Smoking: Kimberly brought that since the director never has–Tre and Nina smoke easily, Gabe doesn’t, and Kakela only smokes when stressed
  • The film contains a fair amount of improvisation, when caused some scenes to have to be re-shot based on other scenes–it was shot on DV, which made this possible–the last scene was shot last, and was darker than expected
  • The improvisation approach makes the actors really listen, which is a big part of why the director does it–everything they do matters–even if the words stay the same, how the previous words are said and acted can change the meaning–and it did
  • Also, the director wants the story beyond the end of the film to matter to the viewer
  • He is thinking about a third movie with characters from the other two
  • Kakela is a Hawaiian name, and Kimberly is part native Hawaiian
  • The characters of Kakela and Tre were trust fund babies, but they downplayed that to make them more sympathetic
  • The goal is to become invested in the characters, but not to be sure where it’s going or even where you want it to go
  • The film was shot in 18 days over three weeks
  • The film has limited distribution due to a post-production disaster–but it is coming out on DVD on May 6
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