I viewed this film at the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival, not far from its shooting locations. "Paradise, FL" is a good example of what a partnering of local professional and non-local professional cast and crew can create ---- a fresh and perceptive independent film that speaks to its target audience and beyond. With a budget under $0.5 million, this ensemble has made a work that demands watching---for its believable performances, efficient and straightforward camera-work, and clear-eyed writing/direction. So many coming-of-age stories are pat and predictable, and this one has its clichés but also some surprises. The title of the movie is alternately genius and ironic, for the Florida presented is both purgatory and paradise and those who experience it as the former will sense both the punitive and transformative notions of the story. This is also a Florida film that does not apply a musical score that is Jimmy Buffett-ed or reggae infused, just a knowing set of songs that fit various moods and situations. To think that this film was supported in crew and production staff with students from Ringling College and State College of Florida---and that the Cast, Director and Producers in a Q & A after the screening noted there was no difference in professionalism between the journeyman crew and Hollywood/NY professionals---bodes well for Indie work outside the corridors of the Hollywood model.
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