Nathan Sutton works as as a bartender at the 1642 bar in Echo Park. But next week, Sutton’s other role – as writer, director and actor – will be in the spotlight when his film, Autumn Wanderer, makes its North American premiere at the Hollywood Film Festival.
Autumn Wanderer, which has already appeared in film festival in Scotland and Madrid, is the first feature film for Sutton and his wife, Elisha Skorman, who stars in the movie about a man who meets “the woman of his dreams” while struggling with his father’s schizophrenia. Not only did Sutton write much of the script in Echo Park, the neighborhood business’ taco trucks and other venues served as background for the film, which was shot over 12 days with the help of a mostly Echo Park crew.
“We were so fortunate that the neighborhood was so accommodating,” said Sutton, a 30-year-old who moved to Echo Park about seven years ago. “There were so many kind people who really opened themselves up to help us out throughout the process and I am convinced that’s because we have been saying hello to them on the street for years, or frequenting their establishments.”
Sutton provided more details about the film and his neighborhood connection in a Q&A:
What was the inspiration for Autumn Wanderer?
A: I’m not really sure exactly. The script started as a short story and over the years evolved quite a bit. I think the real answer is that we were fed up with being told “No” at audition after audition, and so I decided to put my money where my mouth was and prove we could tell a good story, and act in it, and work with our friends in the process. So I guess the inspiration came out of frustration.
How did you end up shooting in Echo Park
A: We tried to show another side of Los Angeles. Most movies typically do the beach thing, or South Central … depending on the storyline. But I feel like where we live is so beautiful, and my DP, Michael Lockridge, did a great job of exposing some of that beauty. In my experience, Echo Park has always been a place that really supports and encourages creativity. There were only 7 of us in the crew on our busiest day. Five of us live in Echo Park and we were all neighborhood friends before we started working together.
How did you and and your wife end up in Echo Park?
A:I moved her over to this side of town about 5 years ago. I’ve been living here since 06′. I moved to the neighborhood because Shortstop had a pool table. While that is entirely true, I think there is some like-minded chemistry or gravitational pull or something else scientific involved. I honestly would not want to live in any other neighborhood in L.A. proper. There’s something special about EP and the people who have made it a home over the past seven years. I know there are a lot of people who don’t like the changes that have happened, but I feel very fortunate to have found a community and an environment where I can survive economically and creatively.
What do we do for fun?
A: Well, we’re married now, so when we’re not working we particularly enjoy sitting at home with our dog and watching Boardwalk Empire and Breaking Bad (tear). But honestly, the places that we shot in around the neighborhood are the same places we like to hang out. I love the food trucks, half of the script was written in Stories, and we love to take walks both in Elysian Park and around the Lake. I also am quite partial to a nice game of billiards … I thank Don over at the newly remodeled Little Joy for providing a good spot to shoot some pool.
A: Well, it’s been very tough to focus on new projects because, since it’s basically Elisha and I handling the business of this movie, we haven’t had the time to sit down and write as much as we’d like. We do have a couple scripts ready to go, and a web series about Echo Park that we’d like to shoot, providing we could find a way to fund it. But either way, we’ll just keep trying to do what we love to do. Can’t turn back now…