Filmmaker Aron Gaudet. Photo Credit: Shane Leonard.

Filmmaker Aron Gaudet. Photo Credit: Shane Leonard.

GALO: Trust and loyalty play a big role in the film, from the uncle being tested in his loyalty to his family, to Casper always being there for Dominic and vice versa, to the lies that manifest in Casper’s relationship with Tasha. In one scene, we see Casper protecting Dominic from a fight that ensues when a party-goer bumps into him. Why is Dominic so reliant on Casper and Casper so protective of him? And is their friendship in some way holding the other back from taking the leap to follow their dreams, or would they break apart at the seams without the other in their lives?

AG: I think in every friendship, there is the more outgoing person that also tends to be on the surface maybe more protective. But similarly, Dominic defends Casper to his mom and to his girlfriend, Emma. I think, physically speaking, Casper just so happens to be the more dominant [one], and he is protective of all of his relationships. He wants to be there for Tasha, he wants to be there for Dominic. He wants to be there for his father.

GP: Yeah, I’ve always seen Dominic and Casper to be protective of one another, but protective in very different ways. Casper is more physical with it, whereas Dominic is more protective through the spoken word. In the scene where he opens up about Casper to Emma, he’s as protective as his friend yet also hurt that he feels like his friend is maybe trying to part ways from the agreed upon plan. But in the end, no matter what, Dominic will always do anything for Casper.

GALO: Given that Maine is considered to be moose country, I do have to ask, how was the moose scene, in which we see Dominic, Casper and one of the girls chasing the animal in a friend’s car, filmed and what was the experience like for the actors? Was it an actual “chase scene,” so to speak, or were each filmed separately — or perhaps the moose was generated by computer technology? (I know that many tourists go looking for moose after dusk, but I am left wondering if this type of “safari” activity, as portrayed in your film, is common among adolescents in Maine.)

AG: When we were researching the story up in Van Buren, one of the harvest workers told us about going on “moose safaris” and we decided we’d write that into the script — it looked good on the written page. We figured once we were into production, we would have to scrap the idea because what were the odds of actually pulling a “moose safari” off on film? But we were pretty surprised by how many teens do it, and we went along for the ride and experienced it for ourselves.

GP: We have no clue [as to] who first came up with the idea, but it was something that I don’t think you will find in another movie. And we took every precaution to make sure everyone was safe and that no moose were harmed in the filming.

GALO: The film’s name, Beneath the Harvest Sky, is clearly meant to be an acknowledgment of the potato harvest that we see Dominic working at as he saves up money for a car, as well as the saying “harvest buddies” that is exchanged between Dominic and his girlfriend. However, besides the obvious, is there an additional type of significance to this title?

GP: The title was something that we really struggled with for a long time. I think Beneath the Harvest Sky is really about the world up there and uncovering a story that hasn’t been told in this setting. To me, its not just potatoes that are harvested; I think the title encompasses what happens in both the potato and drug world up there.

AG: Yeah, I think we wanted a title that felt like it encompassed the entire world these characters were living in up there. Not just the harvest, but what was happening all around the area during the harvest.

GALO: The film showcases the hard truths of adolescent love, with the subject matter of teen pregnancy as well as a play on the term “friends with benefits” by way of “harvest buddies.” In your opinion, would you say that there’s a certain loss of innocence and teenagers having to grow up more quickly in small towns, like the one you showcase in your film, than in larger cities, because of the pressure of having to provide for their families or themselves?

AG: I don’t think teens in small towns have it tougher than teens in bigger cities. I just think they all have to deal with their own sets of problems and issues. But I think the boredom inherent in small town life leads teens to taking bigger risks and finding themselves in tougher situations.

GP: I think life is just really tough for teens in general. You’re trying to figure out who you are, what you want to be, your role in the world, and who you want to be friends with on this part of the journey. If we made this film in the city, it would be a totally different setting, but would Dominic and Casper still have this unconditional friendship, I think so. Would Emma still want to find a way to better herself? Probably. So teenage problems are probably similar no matter where you are.

GALO: In the film we see quite a bit of drug activity that goes on in the state of Maine itself as well as across the Canadian border. You might be familiar with North Woods Law on Animal Planet, which often showcases people growing marijuana in the wilderness of Maine’s forests. Was your film in part a commentary on that aspect of illegal activity in areas like that? And would you say that this is in fact a problem that affects the states across the 1-95 interstate, especially ones close to the Canadian border?

GP: I’m not familiar with North Woods Law on Animal Planet, but I think a lot of what we were trying to understand is how people in small towns like Van Buren, Maine survive. One of the aspects was utilizing the border to bring illegal prescription drugs over.

AG: The I-95 corridor in our film is all about that — trafficking drugs from across the border and all the way down the east coast and back. It’s a very real issue and it grew in our story out of the research we did. I think one thing you can say about Mainers is that we’re innovative, at the very least, and I think most of us are just trying to find ways to make a living.

GALO: Apart from making its rounds at the Tribeca Film Festival and in theaters nationwide, the film, much like Joss Whedon’s In Your Eyes, was also being released via video on demand services like Amazon, iTunes, YouTube and Vudu, among others in the U.S. and Canada. Do you believe that this is the future of film and film festivals (and one that should be embraced more), in delivering the product for a limited time to audiences worldwide for a certain rental fee, so as to reach the largest audience possible during its initial release? And why do you think there is still much hesitancy with this endeavor – do some people in the industry continue to believe that people will stop going to movie theaters for the experience if they can see the film on their television screen?

AG: We’re kind of in the thick of it right now with our film release, so I think in a few months we’ll have a better sense of how it’s all working out. But for a tiny independent film like Beneath The Harvest Sky, it was important that everyone have access to it as soon as possible. Growing up in Maine, I would wait months to see a film that opened in New York City. And a lot of times, the films I wanted to see would never make it up to Maine. So now that I’ve made a film, I really wanted people in Maine and other rural areas to have access to see it right away — in a theater, on cable VOD, or on a digital platform.

GP: I think people consume content differently. So far, the people who are coming to see Beneath the Harvest Sky in theaters tend to be an older crowd that wouldn’t go to iTunes or Amazon Instant to watch our film. And we’re finding that a lot of teens looking for our movie are going online to watch the film. I think the day and date platform release can only really work on specific titles, and I think it’s a perfect fit for what we’re trying to do with our film. But should all independent films be released this way? I think it really does depend on the film and more importantly the audience that is going to seek out the film. If you figure out how they consume content, you’ll figure out the best release strategy.

GALO: You’re no strangers to film festivals, as your film The Way We Get By won the Special Jury Award at the SXSW Film Festival last year, before making its rounds at various festivals and picking up an Emmy-nomination and 18 awards in the process. What did you like most about this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, and how was your film received by the New York City audience?

GP: We had never been to Tribeca before and didn’t really know what to expect. But we were really impressed by the festival and the film going audience. New York audiences are smart and expect a lot from movies, and we love giving them a layered story that they can sit with.

AG: We had a really amazing U.S. premiere at a sold out theater. You could feel the excitement and energy in the room and it just made for a really special screening experience.

GALO: You’ve been selected by Variety as two of the top 10 directors to watch in 2013. What projects are you thinking of working on in the near future, and do you plan to continue to collaborate on each other’s work, or do you think your paths will diverge for your own dream projects?

GP: Aron and I are married, so we plan on making more movies together for a very long time. I can’t imagine making movies without him. We are looking at some bigger projects that take some of what we’ve learned making Beneath The Harvest Sky to a whole new level. We’re excited to push our creative boundaries even more.

AG: Yes, Gita and I are around each other 24/7…our paths never diverge!

You can watch “Beneath the Harvest Sky” on VOD (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, etc.) or by following theater screenings on the film’s Facebook page.

Video courtesy of Tribeca Film.