Must Come Down: Guiding You Through Your Quarter-Life Crisis

Photo: Ruby Claire Johnson

Quarter-life crisis: Based on SLUG Mag’s demographics, there’s a good chance a lot of you are experiencing one, especially in this economy. What do you do when nothing seems to be going your way? Even extraterrestrials know to at least phone home. That’s where local artist, curator, filmmaker and screenwriter Kenny Riches sends the main character of his upcoming indie feature film, Must Come Down­ — back to his roots. Going home usually means a plate of cookies and a chat with mom, not trying to break into the house where you spent your childhood where someone else’s mom currently lives …

Ashley (David Fetzer) and Holly (Ashly Burch) are the two unemployed twenty-somethings “stumbling through life’s final bout of growing pains” in this quirky comedy about being lost.

Written, directed and produced by Riches, Must Come Down is his first feature-length film, no doubt inspired by his own adventures and experiences. Founder and owner of Kayo Gallery until he sold it in late 2007, Riches left to travel the world, including his terra patria, Japan, and returned to begin working on the screenplay. “I’d only written short films up until two years ago... I came back to Utah and had a [reunion] show at Kayo and I started being more interested in my family history,” he says. The gallery show, titled “I Wish Things Were Different,” took place last November and, like Must Come Down, focused on the past with the themes of nostalgia and adventure. “My favorite thing is when people tell me ‘oh, I really connect with this or that part of the story,’ I feel like that’s important to me. This film is a lot about being lost and everyone our age is kind of there,” he says. This led Riches to seek out his childhood home, which he wanted to use as a location, obviously resulting in a key part of the film’s plot. Thanks to Google and Riches’ persistence, he was able to make it happen. “I stalked [the family who now owns the house] a little bit, I found their names on the county recorder through their property listing … The family that lives there is so amazing and supportive,” he says. 

The cast also fell right into place. The close friendship shared by Riches and Fetzer was evident as the two skillfully played off each other’s comments and even finished each other’s sentences.

“It’s my suspicion that Kenny had me in mind from the get-go when he was writing the screenplay, ‘cause when I read it, he’s incorporated some of my idiosyncrasies,” says Fetzer. Riches confesses the part was written with Fetzer in mind — no audition needed. Both agree their relationship benefits the artistic process. “It’s a casual collaborative dynamic between the two of us. It was just an extension of our history,” says Fetzer. “We share similar comedic timing, which is really important,” Riches concludes.

Phoenix native and first-time actor Ashly Burch was brought on to play Holly after Riches was introduced to her popular web video series, Hey Ash, Watcha Playin’? after which he sent her a Facebook message to gauge her interest in the project. Burch read through the script and loved it, as Holly holds the same eccentricities as her Hey Ash character. “I feel like one of the things you can recognize a good character is when you can imagine going somewhere and just having a conversation with them outside the context of the movie, and I can definitely imagine having a cup of coffee with Holly. The great thing about a film is that it’s a way of knowing, in a really overdramatic way, that you’re not alone,” she says.

Burch’s large fan base is partially responsible for the $11,000-plus that was raised for the film through People were able to watch comedic promotional videos and received pledge gifts, from stickers and DVDs to premiere tickets and production credits, depending on the amount donated. “The thing that is pretty unique about this production is that we’re paying everyone involved. Most indie productions I’ve been involved with just put together a team who are in it for the love of the game, which is nice, but then you have to contend with flakes and half-assed work. It’s awesome that we get to be able to do that, and Kickstart helped,” says Fetzer.

The film went into production from August 2-20, with all filming done exclusively in Salt Lake. Edited by Tj Nelson (editor, Snowmen), produced by Patrick Fugit (actor, Almost Famous) and Dominic Fratto (producer, White on Rice), and the score written and recorded by local musician Andrew Shaw (The Platte), this is a promising local film you won’t want to miss. “I personally hope that it will inspire local filmmakers in particular to be serious about filmmaking and to make more films … When one person just says ‘I’m just gonna do this’ and they do it, it creates a chain effect, and I would love to see that,” says Fetzer. Riches plans to finish the film in time to submit to Sundance: “I can’t expect to win much because it’s a huge festival and tons of people submit, but it’s worth trying … I’m related to Robert Redford,” he teases. “I didn’t know he was Japanese,” says Fetzer.

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Photo: Ruby Claire Johnson