Gilbert resident Cameron Earl admits that when he was producing the movie Tim Timmerman, Hope of America, he asked himself why he was doing it.
But the pros outweighed the cons and he’s thrilled that the film will screen at Harkins Superstition Springs 25 in Mesa from Friday, April 7, through at least Thursday, April 13.
Garnering a 90 percent audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the family-friendly, coming-of-age high school comedy is a semi-autobiographical story of writer and director Cameron Sawyer’s experiences as a student body president in Utah in the mid-1990s. He calls himself “quite possibly the worst high school student body president in high school history.”
“The director and the other producers, we’re LDS,” says Earl, who will attend the Friday, April 7, screening. “We wanted to make not a religious film – which a lot of people do and a lot of them are our friends and we like them – but a good, clean film that was a good movie.
“Sometimes that isn’t very easy to do. Not all movies are good, even if they have a good message.”
The film is relatable
Tim Timmerman takes place in 1994, the year that most of the producers graduated high school. Earl earned his degree in 1995.
“It really shows off a lot of the things that existed the time,” Earl says. “Pearl Jam, Better Than Ezra and The Scorpions’ music are in the film. Our wardrobe designer made sure that everybody looked like they were from the 1990s. We had cars from the 1990s.
“That’s an era that’s starting to become popular again. A lot of the fads have turned back to the ’90s. That’s nostalgic for people our age. That resonates with them.”
Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder gave his blessing to use the song “Deep” in the movie. They Might Be Giants allowed the team to use “Birdhouse in Your Soul” in the trailers.
“Eddie Vedder was huge in the ’90s and he’s been really kind to independent filmmakers,” Earl says. “He was the first person to say that he wanted to be in our film.
“They Might Be Giants was an incredible band to work with. They were super kind and they loved the trailer, and loved the idea of our film. Growing up, you never think you’re going to be able to interact with these bands. These bands are legendary. They Might Be Giants was my favorite band from the ’90s.”
Earl was raised in Tempe, and, even though he was private and homeschooled, he attended activities through Corona del Sol High School. He studied marketing at Brigham Young University after a failed attempt at intro to film class.
“I just didn’t fit in,” he says. “Everybody was artsy and I wasn’t. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I didn’t fit in. I had made little videos and movies and worked in video production forever.
“The director of Tim Timmerman and I were friends at BYU. He said he was going to film school and, in my head I says, ‘What a huge waste of time.’ I felt bad about it. He did his first short film called She’s a Fox, then I realized he was good at it.”
When Sawyer told Earl about Tim Timmerman, he was excited to come onboard.
“I says I would produce it, not even knowing what a producer did,” he says. “I wanted to make movies, but a producer isn’t really an ‘artist.’ A producer is a business guy. They need artists and business logistics people. That was a better fit for me.”
Tim Timmerman has been successful at Utah theaters and is now expanding to markets across the country. It received acclaim on the festival circuit, too, at the Academy Award-qualifying Heartland Film Festival; the St. Louis International Film Festival and the Woods Hole Film Festival in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
Harkins, Earl says, welcomed Tim Timmerman.
“The Harkins folks are really friendly to independent filmmakers,” Earl says. “They have been so kind and gracious. It’s cool that my friends and family get to see the film. I spent a lot of time making it.”
The movie is rated PG-13 due to a brief scene regarding marijuana.
“It’s rated PG-13, but it’s the cleanest PG-13 movie in the history of the MPAA,” he says with a laugh. “There’s an antidrug message. We have a DARE T-shirt in the movie.
“It’s about doing the right thing, even though it’s hard. In the beginning, Tim doesn’t really care about other people. He just does what he can to get ahead. As he goes on his journey, he learns that doing the right thing is hard to do but it makes you a better person.
“The life journey may not be what you wanted it to be, but a different life path can give you more than you ever thought you could get. That’s the message of the film. That’s a good message for all of us. Once you walk out, you feel good.”