In this day and age of Stranger Things or Fargo, audiences are trained to believe that it's easy to recreate a past decade, be it the 1970s or '80s, for the benefit of an on-screen story. Period realism is very important to an audiences' enjoyment of a film or television series, and when you set your tale in a decade of recent memory, you have to work really hard to get the details down, or the viewer will tune out before you have had a chance to hook them. But what about when you are an indie mystery thriller, working on a budget? We recently posed this question to Roadkill Superstar, the collective directors of the Sundance film Summer of '84, and learned about the obstacles they encountered when building a believable setting for their original story:
Francois Simard: We had an amazing team, an amazing art director. They did miracles with no money. Because it is a small-budget indie movie. If there was something that was not right, we just cut it from the movie.
Yoann-Karl Whissell: It was really important for us. There's a vision of the '80s that it was all neon and pink, and all very bright colors. It was starting to be those colors, but people didn't change their wardrobe because it was suddenly the '80s. Especially in '84, it was more... it was a leftover of what the '70s were. And so it was more brown and orange, and stripes.
Anouk Whissell: And since it's very grounded in reality, we really wanted to add the references to be in the background of the story, and to basically just use it to just set the period.
The fact that Summer of '84 takes place in that era is important, but not vital to the telling of the story. The same tale could be shifted to any decade, though there would be some needed tweaks. In Summer of '84, very close teenage friends who are bored stiff on their summer break begin to suspect a neighbor of criminal deeds. There's a serial killer on the loose in their town, and the collective imaginations of the loose-lipped kids have them believing they are on to the trail of a murderer. But are they right? Or barking up the wrong tree?
Check out the period detail on display in the new trailer for Summer of '84.
And watch the full clip of our conversation with RKSS, the directors of Summer of '84.
Want to see the movie for yourself? You are in luck. It will be in theaters on August 10, and on VOD and Digital HD on August 24.