Four years after filmmakers Rebecca Weaver and Chris Irwin turned pockets of the peninsula into backdrops for their comedy/drama June Falling Down, the duo is preparing to close the final chapter of the project with its February release.
The announcement comes as Weaver and Irwin celebrate the conclusion of a two-year, 15-film fest run that has seen June Falling Down earn Best American Independent Feature at the Sonoma International Film Festival, Best Narrative Feature at the Knoxville Film Festival, and official selection at film festivals across the country.
The story follows a young woman, June, as she returns to Wisconsin for her best friend’s wedding, which coincides with the one-year anniversary of her father’s death. It was adapted from a short story Weaver wrote in college based on her personal experience of losing her father to cancer in 2009.
“It is about some pretty universal themes: grief, losing someone in your family, and also being stuck in your life,” Weaver said. “And there’s a lot of really sweet, light humor to it that a lot of people connect to.”
Its reception has been encouraging for the first-time feature filmmakers. Weaver, who directed it, said the experience of making and marketing June Falling Down has been “film school” for the pair as they adapted a learn-as-you-go attitude toward the craft.
“To a degree, some of our ignorance was bliss because we didn’t know how hard it was going to be every time,” Weaver said. “The shooting of the movie was just such a different experience from marketing and bringing it to festivals.”
Since the film’s first Door County screening in 2015, they’ve traveled the country seeking out their audience and building connections in the independent filmmaking community. It has been an expensive venture, Weaver admits, especially as superhero blockbusters with expansive budgets have dominated the box office the past few years.
But it is precisely in the indie filmmaking scene, “where a lot of the really exciting work is happening,” that Weaver intends to continue finding her directing style and screenwriting voice.
“It definitely taught me that there’s really no excuses,” Weaver said. “If you want to make a movie, you can do it. It’s hard, it’ll knock you out – it knocked us out – but we’re getting ready to make another movie.
“For us it’s about building a good reputation, making films with a lot of heart in them, and drawing people in even if we don’t have huge budgets,” she said.
Weaver is currently working on two new film scripts, one of which was a finalist for a Sundance Institute screenwriting workshop. The duo also has plans to create a podcast series detailing the production of June Falling Down and the journey to bring it to audiences at film festivals across the nation.
“We’ve learned so much making this movie, we just want to let people know how we did it and if other people want to make movies too, they can learn from what we’ve done,” Weaver said.
Door County audiences will have one final chance to see a public screening of the film at 7 pm on Friday, Jan. 19 at the Door Community Auditorium. Freewill donations will support further marketing of the film.
For updates on the film’s release and podcast series, visit junefallingdown.com.