After following their passion to cinema school in Los Angeles, brothers Jared and Brandon Drake came home to Snoqualmie to make their first feature film, “Visioneers,” a dark comedy that will debut at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) June 12.
The theme of the movie is “following your dreams in a world where people tell you dreams are dead,” said Brandon, who drew from his own experiences growing up in the Valley to write the screenplay.
In the film, set in the not-so-distant future, everyone has comfortable lives working for a giant corporation — but people are literally exploding from unhappiness.
“A lot of the story is about our struggle to believe we can make a movie and do what we want to do with our lives,” Brandon said. “I thought that if I went to work for Microsoft like so many people on the plateau, I’d explode.”
(He added that he sees nothing wrong with people whose dream is working for corporate America, as long as they’re being true to themselves.)
Following their own dreams, the Drakes decided to “lay it all on the line” and open their own production company to get “Visioneers” made.
Brandon wrote the plot around local free or cheap locations the pair could use on a shoestring budget.
“We decided, ‘Let’s do whatever we have to do to make a movie, and see what happens. If we make it for no money, no problem,’” he said.
Perhaps it was that passion, along with Brandon’s strong script, that appealed to “Napoleon Dynamite” executive producer Jory Weitz, who agreed to produce the film. Comedian Zach Galifianakis signed on to star, and before they knew it, the Drakes had assembled the cast and crew of their dreams.
“You can’t even allow yourself to wish for those kinds of team members,” Brandon said. “It’s a total cliche, but this experience has been a dream come true.”
They brought the team to film in Snoqualmie in 2006, and loved shooting in their hometown.
“Everyone was so excited to be working on the movie,” said Jared, who was a star athlete at Mount Si. “Our friends could drop by. It was the perfect scenario.”
Though the amount of establishing shots is intentionally limited (the filmmakers aim to disorient the audience with an “alternate reality” feel), Valley residents will recognize Meadowbrook, Mill Pond, and Isadora’s Books and Café.
“You’ll see Snoqualmie, but it’s not in your face,” Brandon said. One of the Brandon’s favorite jokes from the film is that urban dwellers refer to Snoqualmie’s on-screen counterpart as “undeveloped area,” though “it’s really just a normal town.”
Jared, who lives in Los Angeles, and Brandon, who still resides near Sno-Falls Golf Course, have encountered lots of people who picture their hometown as a much more rural place than it is.
“People from the city just don’t know. Snoqualmie is just awesome,” Brandon said, adding that he and Jared would love to make all their movies in the Northwest.
• Would you rather see “Visioneers” in Sin City? Enter to win a trip to the Las Vegas premiere on June 18. Find more information at www.visioneersthemovie.com.