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The Art of Travel produced by and starring Christopher Masterson, had it’s North American première in January at the Palm Springs International Film Festival in Palm Springs, California. The film had two screenings on January 9 and 10, 2008. See our previous post for more details.
Synopsis: Conner Layne graduated at the top of his high school class, found a wife-to-be and was ready for Berkeley when life threw a wrench in his plans. Though he may have intended on running away, Conner leaps ahead onto a better path.
Though it begins lightly with the valedictorian (“Malcolm in the Middle’s” capable Christopher Masterson) about to wed his young bride, circumstances find the traveler alone in a foreign country unable to speak the tongue, robbed of both money and naïveté. What could continue as a hostel-hopping romp instead leads to a test of motivation.
Just as Conner prepares to return home, he meets a couple who have planned an expedition to cross the Darién Gap dividing Central and South America between Panama and Columbia. Impassable by foot, impossible by car, the area represents the only hole in the Pan American Highway. The crew of seven push and drag a jeep of supplies through water, in mud and over rocks to reach the other side. Why? The question becomes why not.
Review: Emerging director Thomas Whelan created with Brian LaBelle the sort of story anyone hopes to tell his grandchildren and the kind of movie through “The Art of Travel” that tempts viewers to head to the airport with no planned destination.
Chris and Darlene Loren act as parental guides to the young wisecrackers, and time is passed by all with jokes and sympathetic muscle aching. During the year it takes to cross the passage, they are introduced to hostile guerillas and friendly natives, but the story never hovers in distracting action or ethnocentric melodramas. Rather, the film focuses on the need for a connection with other cultures and a better understanding of our own ethnic backgrounds.
The film is a love letter to wanderlust. It is for anyone who has considered trading in their return ticket home for a one-way ticket to someplace far outside of the usual comfort zone and anyone who has groaned over the standard two-week American vacation limit. No one in the film is snapping photos or writing postcards; everyone is absorbing an experience that will better shape them as living beings.
Whelan’s film may not be perfectly polished, but he holds promise for a smooth future. The central character evolves with the film, which only gets better as the minutes pass. The film is not merely a travelogue, but rather motivation to check the expiration on your passport.
Interview with the Director Thomas Whelan here.
Behind the Scenes #6 The End
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After spending seven weeks together cast and crew becomes family. Through all the adventure we covered and the highs and lows, it’s always hard to say goodbye. We all experienced something special while making this movie. There were no Hollywood Studios to answer to or agents that ever fought what we were trying to do. Everyone was on the same page – make a fun movie that leaves you feeling good. Our hopes are that we have achieved that.
And now our adventure becomes your adventure. One thing is certain about making a movie – there is never any such words as THE END…