A Message From the Director
Sweet Little Lies is a touching film about the struggle to understand one’s place in the world. Inspired by movies from my childhood (Goonies, E.T., Empire of the Sun), I wanted to capture a child's journey into adulthood through an exciting adventure story.
Throughout the writing process screenwriter James Windeler and I kept in mind the limitations of working with a small budget. Extensive location scouts allowed James to write about specific areas. The result is some of the most amazing and provocative locations ever imagined. From outsider artists whose fields are scattered with upright half-buried trucks, to the abandoned depression-era towns of southern Kansas, to the canyons of Monument Valley, we have found some of the most unique and often unseen areas of America. The authenticity and rich detail of these locations allows our film to stand out beyond its budget. We are proud to be a part of a trend in filmmaking in which movies put more focus on characters and story, and less on technical aspects such as film stock and special effects. Improvement in HD quality has given us the opportunity to make this movie look and feel just as sophisticated as film.
While this movie’s outward genre might be labeled as a “Road Movie,” it goes beyond that. Bess’ adventure is more akin to the classic Hero’s Journey of say, Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. Bess, like Luke, is on a quest for something bigger than herself. As she journeys towards that goal, she picks up a wide range of allies and enemies, who ultimately push her to reflect more deeply on her own goals and dreams. In the style of the classic Hero’s Journey, Bess’ outward cinematic quest leads to a deeper emotional awakening.
Outreach over the course of several months opened the door to bright young actors who had little or no major film experience to take on the lead roles of Bess and Waldo. Caitlin Kinnunen, an accomplished stage actress, brought a sense of adventure, determination, and enthusiasm to the production that had a great impact on the characterization of young Bess. Alongside were veterans such as Bill Sage. Bill was a brilliant collaborator, and brought a unique, sympathetic quality to the grifter character, Roach. Roach’s roughedges were drawn with exact precision. Bill also managed to bring unwavering levels of professionalism and audacity to the production – qualities that paved the way for success over the difficult, grueling work at hand.
I couldn’t have asked for a more qualified and talented crew. Having studied for years with the writer, cinematographer, assistant director, and producers provided a fluency in our work mode, a shared vocabulary that helped us overcome many of the challenges thrown our way through production. We came together with a passion to make good movies and the creative capacity to make good movies great. We kept the crew small, which allowed us to be versatile and impulsive. Our modus operandi has been to be open to anything, however fantastic or frightening, and this sense of adventure and risk-taking opened the door to many amazing, unique shots, scenes, locations, experiences.
William J. Saunders