Austin-Made Comedy Sends Shakey Graves in Search of Beer and Meaning
The party never ends at The Get Together
Remember parties? Alejandro Rose-Garcia, aka Austin musician Shakey Graves, is sending out the invite with The Get Together, the new comedy-drama about one night at a very Austin bash. The movie arrives on VOD next week, just as everyone is considering at least a little socializing again. "We were joking about it being an instructional video," Rose-Garcia said. "Yes, it's probably in the backyard, you'll probably have to play some kind of ball/cup drinking game stuff, and people will be like, 'Yeah, right, right, right.'"
"Remember people?" added director Will Bakke. "When we made this, it made us super nostalgic thinking about our 20s, and then when the pandemic hit it took on a life of its own."
In the feature, Rose-Garcia plays Caleb, an Austin scenester who is definitely growing out of the city's infamous velvet rut, and alongside other guests in equal limbo he finds the next stage of his life waiting at a party on Speedway. Rose-Garcia described Caleb as less the movie's lead than its straight man, an avatar for the audience's fears about leaving an extended adolescence, "worrying that your friends are changing and you're not able to keep up, or worrying that you've changed and you're not like you used to be."
It's a period piece, but not just because there's a communal punch bowl ("That's assault now," said Rose-Garcia). Bakke started writing The Get Together when he was 25, and was 30 when he finally directed it, "so I feel like I was experiencing it as I was making it." It speaks to a particular vision and experience, where "it's always a party in the backyard and everyone's welcome. Whoever shows up, shows up. There's normally a random 45-year-old dude in the back corner and you're like, 'I don't know that guy but he seems cool,' and everyone's drinking beer and having a good time.'"
Bakke and his writing partner Michael B. Allen built out the feature from their 2015 short of the same name, which was heavily inspired by, surprisingly, the Oscar-winning Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). Bakke said, "We wanted to capture the feel of somebody's 20s in these long takes," he explained, adding that the original draft was for "one-take, Slacker-style, just drift into one character and understand their world, then drift into another." However, another unexpected influence reshaped the draft into a back-and-forth, showing events from different perspectives of different observers: Gus Van Sant's school shooting drama, Elephant. "Most of the movie is following the kids around, one at a time. It's not until an hour later that you see the same conversation that you see at the beginning, now with a new wrinkle that you didn't realize when you first watched it."
"It's party Pulp Fiction," said Rose-Garcia.
Bakke laughed. "Yeah, but with much lower stakes."
Yet while the story is less than linear for the course of the night, Bakke said the plot unfolds with the chapters of being a twentysomething that a lot of people will recognize. "Moving to a new town. Being in a relationship and wondering if you're with the right person. And Caleb's journey: He's in his early 30s now, looking back and going, 'Did I make the right decisions?'"
While The Get Together speaks to the constancy of change, Rose-Garcia saw another constant: that whatever happens, and no matter how much people or Austin change, "there's still a party in a backyard. In 2089, they'll be wearing space helmets on Speedway in between two digital trees, and they'll be, 'We have to drink vitamin juice on the street for no reason.'"
The Get Together invites you to join it on VOD on May 14 (preorder on Apple TV here.
Read our review in next week’s issue.