Sundance Film Festival Interview: Writer/Director Augustine Frizzell for NEVER GOIN' BACK

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NEVER GOIN' BACK is the first feature length film from filmmaker and actress Augustine Frizzell. The film was written and directed by Frizzell and premiered in the Midnight section of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Featuring clever writing, an incredibly talented cast and a super catchy soundtrack, I’m expecting NEVER GOIN' BACK to be popular with the audiences at Sundance and beyond. This witty and sometimes hysterical film follows the misadventures of best friends Jessie (Camila Morrone) and Angela (Maia Mitchell) as they try to creatively come up with rent money when all they really want to do is go to the beach. Ahead of it's premiere, Michelle had the chance to speak with Augustine Frizzel about her film. 

Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Augustine, thank you for taking the time to talk with me. Congratulations on the premiere of NEVER GOIN' BACK at Sundance!

Augustine Frizzell: Thank you! It’s like a dream come true.

Nightmarish Conjurings: What was your inspiration for the story and the characters Jessie and Angela?

AF: This was based on my own teen years growing up in Garland, Texas. My own best friend at the time was like my saving grace, I think. We obviously had rough circumstances and it could have ended up poorly, but we ended up turning out okay. I attribute a lot of that to the fact that we had such a strong friendship and we were there for one another and had this family vibe and bond. A lot of people who come from a strong family, they’re doing alright, but we didn’t really have that, so we made that. I wanted to show that on film. I wanted to show two best friends who never have a big falling out, but who just always have each other’s backs and who will always love each other. That came from the process of writing about some of the crazier things that happened to us to be honest. It was kind of like telling these stories of these wild events that had actually happened and then therapeutically discovering how important our friendship was. 

Nightmarish Conjurings: What would you like for people to take away from this movie when they see it?

AF: The first thing would be to just have fun. It’s a really silly and ridiculous movie, but also to see two females who aren’t petty and who aren’t jealous and aren’t bitter and represent the female relationships that I’ve had. I’ve been lucky. The way that so many females are portrayed on film has not been my experience at all. I’ve just loved my girlfriends and I hope people see that, but additionally these are two imperfect women. So often in film we feel like we need to be represented as these really strong characters. I think they are really strong characters, but they are just not making the best decisions that they could make (laughs), but they are trying. They want more. I hope people take away that we can be imperfect, but still be complete and still be in the process of learning and growing and making a better life for ourselves. 

Nightmarish Conjurings: The soundtrack for this film is fun and there are even a couple of “oldies” as well. What made you choose the music you used for the film?

AF: During the writing process, I had songs that I listened to on repeat to help me work my way through different scenes and that would kind of set the tone in the scene. I knew I wanted to have that same experience with the movie, so before we started shooting I made two playlists, I made one guys playlist and one girls playlist and I put songs on there that the characters might listen to or might represent the characters, and I sent those out to all the actors. Everyone in the cast and crew got a little playlist. When we did our first edit, my Assistant Editor used all of those songs as our temp tracks. That was about ninety percent of our temp tracks. When we started working on creating original songs, we have quite a few original songs from Sarah Jaffe and a couple of other songwriter friends of mine, they had a really good framework from which to work, of the vibe and tone and the energy of a certain scene. My daughter also wrote a song and performs it and that’s in the movie. A lot of it is original music. The song at the end of the movie is called “Lights” and it’s by a great local artist named Zhora and that was a song that I played on repeat when I was writing. I knew exactly where I wanted it and we were lucky to get that song and it just makes such a big difference in the movie. She’s the wife of Sarah Jaffe who is our other composer and a lot of Sarah’s songs are in the movie as well, so we’re just really lucky!

Nightmarish Conjurings: How does it feel to have your film premiere at Sundance Film Festival?

AF: It is beyond any of my wildest dreams. It is completely surreal! (laughs) It’s really unbelievable. I’m grateful and humble and just so very, very lucky to be here. It’s vulnerable and it’s scary and it’s exhausting, but it’s all such good stuff, because making a movie is hard. It’s good getting it out there and having all of these people respond so positively is beyond anything I could imagine. 

Nightmarish Conjurings: Are you working on any new projects right now that you can tell me about?

AF: Yes, I have a script that I finished that is kind of different. It’s a drama, it’s not a comedy like this movie, but it is about two teen girls, again (laughs), which is like a running theme I guess. It’s much more overtly a relationship drama. It’s about first love and coming of age, but it’s specific in a way that is unusual. I’m going to be doing re-writes of that and maybe make that next in the winter. Maybe something else comes along, I don’t know. There are lots of opportunities with this, so we’ll see, but definitely something. I’m ready to move on to the next thing. 

Nightmarish Conjurings: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me Augustine!!  I adore the film. It’s really fantastic!

AF: Thank you for talking with me and thank you so much for the positive feedback! It’s why all this feels so good. You hope that it touches people and reaches someone and I’m so grateful to hear that it did.