Brooks Elms, writer, director, and producer of countless films, is coming home to East Hampton this summer.
Yes, he plans to see his mother, who still lives in the family house on McGuirk Street, but his real mission is all business. He will be holding a script reading and eventual casting for his new movie, “Montauk Highway.” The film, which takes place in East Hampton, is a teen love story that focuses on tensions and bitterness between locals and the summer crowd.
“Growing up here in East Hampton, I felt like it was basically a small town, and then in the summer it would change. It was a town with two identities. That split identity was strange. With the tensions growing up toward the people that came out in the summertime, I thought it was a great place to have the film,” said Mr. Elms.
Born and raised here, Mr. Elms attended East Hampton High School, where he made almost 50 short films and videos, before going on to study film at New York University. He earned a screenwriting award for his thesis film, “Drew, Trip, and Zoey,” as well as film-making grants from Warner Bros. and the Hamptons International Film Festival.
More recently, he wrote, directed, and produced “Schooled,” which was nominated for Best Ensemble Performance and the Maverick Production Award at the Method Fest in Los Angeles in 2007.
“Montauk Highway” is a new type of film for Mr. Elms, a result of years focusing on psychology and story structure. It obviously strikes close to home for him, and for his co-writer, Greg Cantwell; many of the issues the characters face are the same ones they encountered as teenagers.
But in an interview, Mr. Elms made it clear that the film is in no way autobiographical.
“Emotionally, my experiences as a kid in East Hampton absolutely relate to the story. The characters in the script are similar to what Greg and I experienced. It’s absolutely personal and vivid and true to our experience. But what’s on the page is not autobiographical at all,” he said.
“I shot my senior thesis film out there. It’s beautiful. Because I grew up in the town, it’s my home. It’s a place I feel very comfortable in. It was a very supportive place for us, as local kids, to shoot, but this will be the first time as a full professional to shoot something out there.”
Although “Montauk Highway” isn’t supposed to premier until early 2015, Mr. Elms already has big hopes for its success. “I know it’s a film that a lot of people will really appreciate. I know it can be profitable. And I think it’s going to be a way of showing a side of the town that no one’s really seen before. The hope is that this will put East Hampton on the map in a different way.”
“But basically, it will appeal to the under-25 crowd. It’s a teen romance, with all the excitement. But it’s also thoughtful and personal. So it could appeal to anyone. It really could be a movie that does five or ten million in the box office.”
If all goes as planned, shooting will begin next spring. Mr. Elms plans to cast all the supporting roles with local talent. The two leads will be young stars with previous feature-film acting experience.
Auditions will be held on July 8 at East Hampton High School. The script reading will be on July 13 and is free and open to the public.
More information about the movie and auditions can be found at montaukhighwaythefilm.com.