Filmed in Loveland, dark comedy ‘Small Town Remedies’ explores addiction and family dynamics

R. W. Perkins' film will premiere at the Horsetooth International Film Festival Sept. 10

Actor Andrea Dratch plays Lita in a still from the 2020 film “Small Town Remedies” by filmmaker R.W. Perkins. Shot in Loveland, the film that follows a brother and sister as they help their alcoholic mother will have its world premiere at The Horsetooth International Film Festival, at Holiday Twin Drive- In, at 2206 S. Overland Trail in Fort Collins on Sept. 10 at 9:15 p.m. (Juteback Productions/ Courtesy photo)

From the cactus-spotted desert in “Raising Arizona” to the distinct architecture and steep hills of San Francisco in “Vertigo,” oftentimes where a film is set becomes just as important as the storyline and complex characters. Within “Small Town Remedies,” filmmaker R. W. Perkins pays homage to the Northern Colorado city streets, back alleys and tree-lined neighborhoods that he has called home for close to 15 years.

Ty Sells, left, who plays Evan and filmmaker R.W. Perkins work while filming for “Small Town Remedies” in Loveland in August 2019. “Small Town Remedies” will make its world premiere at The Horsetooth International Film Festival at the Holiday Twin Drive-In in Fort Collins on Sept. 10. (Daniel O’Connor/ Juteback Productions/ Courtesy photo)

Shot and set in Loveland, his latest release follows two siblings, Lita (played by Andrea Dratch) and Evan (played by Ty Sells), as they navigate how to help their mother who has relapsed back into alcoholism. While the brother-sister duo attempts to break their mom’s love affair with the bottle, the two are forced to also face their own personal vices.

Filmed in just eight days last summer on a $10,000 budget — of which $6,300 was sourced from crowd funding — the dark comedy will premiere at the Horsetooth International Film Festival at Holiday Twin Drive-In in Fort Collins Sept. 10. Day passes are $25.

In addition to enlisting all Colorado-based actors to step into onscreen roles, Perkins made sure to feature Colorado bands on the soundtrack, including Denver rock trio Faceman.

Dysfunction, humor, heartache and resilience culminate in this 95-minute feature that takes an honest look at the hardships that coincide with, well, life.

Perkins — who founded Juteback Productions in 2015 — explored a similar theme of substance abuse and family dynamics in his first feature film “Crash & Burn Stories” that centers around Alex Montgomery, a young man who finds himself at odds with his mother and her alcoholic, misogynistic fiancé.

We caught up with the creative to find out about the inspiration behind his latest work, what he hopes viewers take away from the film and what directors he holds in high esteem — including one whose anthology he revisited while working on “Small Town Remedies.”

Reporter Herald: I’ve been following “Small Town Remedies” on Instagram and I’m intrigued by the clips I’ve seen so far. I’ve heard it described as a dark comedy that takes a look at addiction. What inspired you to write this script and make this film?

R. W. Perkins: Writing “Small Town Remedies” was extremely personal to me. While I’ve never struggled with addiction myself, I’ve lived with it most of my life. My father battled with substance abuse, and I have many memories of that as a child. Later, as an adult, I faced addiction again in my personal life. So, I understand the subject and the genre well. I also knew that addiction as a narrative has been well covered, but the story I wanted to tell didn’t focus solely on the addict but the entire family. The family is where I believe the humor in our story is derived; these otherwise rational human beings who suddenly find themselves in the middle of some very foolish situations. While the subject was important to me personally, what drove me to write the movie was that I felt I had a unique take on a very familiar subject.

Filmmaker R. W. Perkins, center, directs Marc Brown, left, and Andrea Dratch during a scene from “Small Town Remedies” in August 2019 in Loveland. (Daniel O’Connor/ Juteback Productions/ Courtesy photo)

RH: It’s pretty impressive that you wrapped production in just eight days with a cast consisting of all Colorado-based actors. What was the experience like seeing your words take shape on screen?

RWP: Watching the film come together was at times stressful, but ultimately highly gratifying. Shooting the film in eight days was a monstrous task, but it was an incredible way to come together as a team. Those eight days were only successful because of the hard work and preparation of our team. Executive producer and (director of photography) Andy Carrasco and lead actor and executive producer Andrea Dratch were instrumental in making this production happen. Having a cast and crew show up every day ready to work from action to cut is the only reason we have a project strong enough to premiere at the Horsetooth International Film Festival.

RH: What are you hoping viewers take away from “Small Town Remedies?”

RWP: Most important to me, as a storyteller, I’d like our audience to be moved, to laugh, cry, go home and talk about the narrative and the characters. As an artist, you hope to speak of something that seems universal and feels very personal. This film is personal to me. Writing it, producing it, every second on set was emotional. I hope our audience can feel that, not just from me, but from everyone involved — the cast, crew, even our supporters.

RH: What are you most looking forward to about the Sept. 10 premiere at The Horsetooth International Film Festival?

RWP: I have to say, I’m pleased that the film we produced in Loveland, Colorado, will premiere so close to home.

I’ve been living in Northern Colorado for 14 years. So as I wrote the screenplay, this is where I imagined these characters living, breathing, existing. So, I’m excited and a little nervous to see how our hometown feels about our movie. It’s important to me to represent our hometown well, so I hope those that see it enjoy the picture.

Actor Ty Sells plays Evan in a scene from “Small Town Remedies” by filmmaker R.W. Perkins. (Juteback Productions/ Courtesy photo)

RH: Lastly, as a filmmaker, I’m curious who you admire in the industry.

RWP: There are so many filmmakers I admire — contemporaries, such as Barry Jenkins, Sean Baker and Debra Granik. Growing up, John Hughes was a favorite of mine, although John Cassavetes was probably the filmmaker whose work I looked at the most while making “Small Town Remedies.” That aside, I’d like to say I admire the filmmakers out there that are blazing a path in their communities. In the historical scope of this art form, we are in the very early days. Could you imagine being alive in the first hundred years that paint and canvas became accessible to everyone? That’s the time we are living in for film. The best tools are finally available to the masses. In each community, there are amazing artists that a generation ago would have been overlooked because they don’t fit into a Hollywood system. I don’t know all of their names, and I look forward to seeing their work, but these are the filmmakers who inspire me today.


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