Issaquah filmmaker Taylor Guterson herds ‘Old Goats’ to screen

August 14, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

The characters in the aptly-titled “Old Goats” refuse to fade quietly as the years advance.

Taylor Guterson

Instead, the film follows a trio of seniors as the sometimes-cantankerous men adjust to retirement, romance and other opportunities.

The force behind the 91-minute comedy, Issaquah writer-director Taylor Guterson, debuted “Old Goats” at the Seattle International Film Festival last year and is readying to open the film Aug. 17 at Seattle’s SIFF Cinema Uptown.

“You’d expect this film to be for everyone who’s over 50, maybe closer to 60 or 70, but in many ways it’s a film for everyone,” Carl Spence, artistic director of SIFF, said in a recent interview.

“Old Goats” appeared in the SIFF lineup last year.

“It was sort of a surprise, sort of a sleeper hit, and audiences really gravitated toward it,” Spence said.

Guterson, 31, started filming “Old Goats” as a 20-something. Practicality — and a shoestring budget —dictated the film’s retirement-centric plot.

The onetime University of Washington film student is from Bainbridge Island. Guterson’s father is “Snow Falling on Cedars” author David Guterson.

If you go

‘Old Goats’

The director and the actors collaborated on earlier 48-hour film projects. Actors Britton Crosley, Bob Burkholder and David VanderWal agreed to sign on to “Old Goats” for nothing.  The setting — Seattle and nearby environs — also came cheap.

“Half of it was just practical. I didn’t have a lot of options in terms of who I used or what the movie was about,” he said. “I had to take characters and locations that I had access to and make something out of that.”

Guterson encouraged Crosley, Burkholder and VanderWal to act natural on camera. Even the characters in the film share the actors’ names.

“They aren’t really acting at all. If you were to meet any of them in real life, that’s kind of how they all are, more or less,” Guterson said. “I encouraged them not to act. That was the whole thing — if I’m not going to use actors, we’re not even going to play that game of acting, because that’s a losing battle. That’s all those really bad, bad movies you see with bad acting.”

Spence said “Old Goats” offers a more authentic perspective on aging.

“The director, Taylor Guterson, really found a way to shape and direct these characters into something that I think people will see themselves in and laugh with rather than laugh at,” he said.

Guterson also avoided clichés about elderly characters pining for their lost youth.

“A lot of movies that have older people in them are all about returning to youth,” he said. “‘Old Goats’ isn’t about that at all. It’s about celebrating your age. You don’t have to return to youth. You can still have fun.”

“Old Goats” received enthusiastic responses at SIFF and other festivals. People 50 and older comprised the majority of audience members at film festivals, but questions for the filmmaker did not focus only on aging.

“What I hear from most of those people, in the Q&As or afterwards, is that they’ve never seen a film that represents elderly people in that light,” Guterson said. “It’s not a dark or depressing story. It doesn’t deal with a lot of the stereotypes.”

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