Filmmaker Taylor Guterson teams with ‘old goats’ again for ‘Burkholder’
An interview with filmmaker Taylor Guterson, who teamed with the principal cast of his earlier film “Old Goats” for a new feature about aging and friendship.
Special to The Seattle Times
Opens Friday, Aug. 8, SIFF Cinema at the Uptown, 511 Queen Anne Ave. N., Seattle; 206-324-9996 or siff.net. Taylor Guterson will appear at the 4:30 and 7 p.m. shows Friday and 2, 4:30 and 7 p.m. Saturday.
How does a talented filmmaker follow up a well-received independent feature about three old guys on Bainbridge Island, each of whom is trying to get through his twilight years?
“I thought long and hard about that,” says Taylor Guterson, writer-director of the charming comedy “Old Goats,” a film-festival favorite released theatrically in 2012. His new feature, “Burkholder,” starring the same principal cast as “Old Goats,” opens this week at the Uptown.
It wasn’t Guterson’s initial intention to make a second feature with the “Old Goats” trio of nonprofessional actors: Bob Burkholder, Britton Crosley and Dave VanderWal, all from this region.
“At one point, I entertained the idea of an all-out comedy, something with a heist, maybe,” he says. “But after a while, that didn’t feel right. It would fall apart.”
Instead, Guterson, 33, felt a strong tug to make another film that, while not a sequel to “Old Goats,” will seem pleasantly familiar to anyone who enjoyed the earlier work.
“I knew I wanted to work with Bob, Britt and Dave again at some point in my life,” Guterson says. “But I knew if I didn’t do it again right away, it would never happen because of their age. So I told myself if I ever want to make another film with them I really have to do it right now.”
The result, “Burkholder,” is considerably darker and more emotionally challenging than “Old Goats.” Where the earlier film concerned an unlikely friendship among three semi-hapless seniors comically stumbling into their final acts in life, “Burkholder” is about the sometimes difficult bond between an almost-90-year-old photographer, Teddy (Bob Burkholder) — increasingly frail and suffering from dementia — and his longtime landlord, Barry (the 76-year-old Crosley). (VanderWal, 65, has a supporting role.)
Burkholder, in real-life a feisty activist who opposed overdevelopment on Bainbridge, died a year ago. Unlike Teddy, Guterson says, Burkholder’s mind remained sharp until the end. During the shoot, however, the actor was growing weaker and pushed himself to finish the film.
“He was rapidly on the decline, just as Teddy is,” says Guterson. “He approached it with humor and grace, even a defiance in a way. He really got a lot out of his last few years, when he could have given up. That’s the way Teddy is in the movie, and that’s the way Bob was as well.”
That parallel led Guterson to honor Burkholder in the film’s title, though it is not Teddy’s name.
Guterson estimates the cost of “Burkholder” at $16,000 before marketing expenses. As with “Old Goats,” the film has been picked up by Seattle-based ShadowCatcher Entertainment, and has played successfully at several festivals, including the Seattle International Film Festival.
Though Guterson launched into “Burkholder” right after completing “Old Goats,” the leap in his assuredness as a director is striking. He is more nimble, witty and imaginative with such basics as framing and composition. At times he cuts away from static scenes of conversation to discover dreamlike elements.
“Just like anything,” he says, “I think you grow and become a little more creative. It just kind of happens by accident.”
Tom Keogh: firstname.lastname@example.org
Information in a web summary on this article, originally published August 7, 2014, was corrected later on August 7, 2014. The previous version had an incorrect first name for Taylor Guterson.