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“STAY THE SAME NEVER CHANGE” director, Laurel Nakadate

[PREMIERE SCREENING: Friday, Jan. 16, 9:15 pm — Holiday Village Cinema IV, Park City]

I think a lot about the small, small screens getting attention these days: iPods, cell phones, YouTube and MySpace. I spend an embarrassing amount of time thinking about the many strangers around the world, sitting in front of their Web cams, reaching out through their video yelps. I’m amazed by the matter-of-fact placement of their bodies in front of their computers, squarely there, waiting, presenting themselves, as if in front of a firing squad of voyeuristic strangers that may love them or shoot them. I obsess over these desperate and lovely attempts to say something. To be loved, to be recorded, to be remembered, to matter somehow. This user-generated material has been getting a lot of attention lately, mostly because of the way money makes people crazy. But that’s not why I think so much about it. I’m in love with it because of the desperation, the folk art/everyman quality of it. The “I’m just doing my best, I’m just trying to tell you this thing,” quality of it. Like a 5 year old home from kindergarten for the first time, he just wants to take off its backpack and tell you about his day.

I spent a lot of time searching online before I made my film Stay the Same Never Change. Most of that time was spent looking for teenage girls. I found a number of my actors through searches on MySpace and Craigslist and random Internet posts. The cast is composed almost entirely of amateur actors from Kansas City, where I shot the film. It was important to me to find “real people” and not trained actors to tell this story. I wanted to go deep into the community, to go home with strangers, to have dinner in rooms I didn’t belong in. I found all of that online and brought it out into the real world.

When I peer into the lives of others through two-inch screens I see a sadness and amazement that ring true to me. But mostly I see something verging on bravery. And at the end of the day, I wanted my movie to be brave. I wanted to tell a story about girls and men in a Midwest town, not far from my own hometown, who try every day to be brave and keep going.

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