Interview with “My Summer as a Goth” Filmmaker Tara Johnson-Medinger

Gothic treat MY SUMMER AS A GOTH is now available on digital. We spoke to helmer Tara Johnson-Medinger about the film… and whether it’s based on her own life story.

-PH: It’s a hard movie to categorise this one – – how did you pitch it to your investors and cast?

-Tara: We have always pitched this as a coming-of-age dramity or smart comedy. It’s really a mix of drama with some smart comedy added in.

-PH: It’s almost of a different time, too – how much did those films of the ‘80s and early ‘90s influence you?

-Tara: I came of age in the ‘80s so those John Hughes films of the time (Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful) were huge influencers. We really wanted to capture that essence but freshen up the story for today’s teens. A lot of folks have asked if it was set in the ‘80s but our story takes place in the present day.

-PH: There’s definitely shades (the purple, in particular) of Tim Burton here, even a little Mark Waters.

-Tara: Purple is definitely Joey’s color! I love the worlds that are created in Burton’s and Waters’ films. Color was very important for this film. When we first meet Joey her world is pretty washed out as our story progresses her world becomes more saturated and vibrant. I wanted to match Joey’s emotional journey within our color palette.

-PH: Natalie is a real find. Was she known to you before the shoot?

-Tara: Natalie has been acting since she was little and it was very fortuitous that we met her when we did! She had already had a healthy career appearing in commercials, dance productions and the tv show Leverage before we met her. We cast Natalie and Jenny White (Pen) really early in the process and were able to work with them for about six months before we did a larger casting to find the rest of the cast.

-PH: Is she – excuse the question – playing a teenage version of yourself?

-Tara: I get asked if Joey is me a lot! Joey is not me but I do like to say that there is a little bit of Joey in all of us.

-PH: I have to ask about the amazing music in this film – – how did you find such talent? All locals?

-Tara: Thank you! Huge credit to our Music Supervisor and Composer, Jana Cushman for helping us connect to such amazing musicians that lent their music to the film. Jana is the front-person for the band Darkswoon which appears in a club scene in the film. Jana expressed interest in getting more involved with the film as we moved into post-production and jumped on to help select music from mainly NW-based musicians but some that live across the US. They also created an award-winning score that is so perfect for this film. If you are interested, the soundtrack is available on Bandcamp where you can find other music by the artists that we feature.

-PH: The film is showing as one half of a drive-in double feature. Which other film do you choose?

-Tara: Great question! I would have to say one of my all time favorites – Harold and Maude – lots of inspiration was pulled from that film. Plus – it’s time that younger generations see that film!

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