POV “Only the Young” — with sun-drenched visuals and a soul-music soundtrack — airs Monday night at 9 on Wisconsin Public Television.
On the surface, “Only the Young” seems like a fairly obvious title. Yes the film’s three subjects are young, but the title could also be a cheeky reference to the age of the filmmakers, who are barely older than the film’s teen-aged subjects.
While watching an interview with directors Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims, I got the sense that the CalArts graduates’ first feature tells dual coming-of-age stories.
Nevertheless, the focus of the film is on three teens from SoCal, not five. But one sure advantage of the close proximity in age between the filmmakers and the subjects is that “Only the Young” captures true teenage emotions, far from the dream-crushing grasp of adult supervision.
The film follows unconventional Christian friends Garrison and Kevin, and Garrison’s on-and-off girlfriend, Skye in their small Southern California town and the surrounding desert.
In a statement, Tippet says he and Mims purposely focused filming on weekends and afternoons outside of school — “the hours when they had time to explore, to try out love and to hope and wonder about the intimidating ‘real world.'”
“We just focused on the lives of the kids as they were…
We tried just to listen.”
With that focus, the film becomes less an issue film and more an accurate picture of how kids spend their time goofing around and dealing with the pressure of maintaining friendships and finding true love.
Originally,the filmmakers thought they were going to record a short film on Garrison and Kevin, a more complex story developed when Skye showed up during filming. In one scene, following an incident in which Kevin kissed Garrison’s girlfriend, rather than witnessing a childish feud we see maturity displayed as Kevin apologies to Garrison. It’s an honest moment when Garrison asks “So is Skye a good kisser?” and Kevin off-the-cuff admits she is. But compassion follows as Kevin tries to minimize the damage (and save face) when he corrects himself saying, “Uh, actually she was very sloppy.”
The scene rolls out in a sort of unpredictable, genuine fashion that mirrors the lives of Kevin, Garrison and Skye — or any teen for that matter. What will ultimately happen to these endearing kids and their friendship? The trailer, and a few additional scenes I’ve seen foreshadow heartbreak at the film’s end. But let’s hope for the best for the film’s subjects, and also for the budding director’s on the other side of lens.