VidAngel debuted its first theatrical release, “Tim Timmerman, Hope of America,” in Utah theaters Friday, March 3. The movie’s director, writers and producers hosted a Q&A after a showing of the movie at the Cinemark University Mall on Saturday.
A team of BYU grads created the film, which stars Eddie Perino as the slacker student body president at a 90s Utah high school looking for an easy route to Yale. The movie was mostly filmed at Mountain View High School in Orem and several other Utah high schools.
“We hope it does really well in Utah, because if it does really well in Utah, we have plans with VidAngel and Purdie Distribution to distribute it nationwide,” said director and writer Cameron Sawyer in an interview with The Daily Universe.
In the Q&A session, Sawyer said that because VidAngel is going through a lawsuit and can’t currently stream content, the company is moving into creating its own content.
“It was actually the perfect marriage,” Sawyer said about VidAngel and the movie. “It was a perfect movie to start their theatrical release with because it’s a wide audience movie.”
Co-writer Justin Copier said in an interview that he wrote “Tim Timmerman” while getting a master’s of business administration at BYU.
“We wrote the first version of the storyline up on a whiteboard at the Tanner Building, and that’s where it all started — Christmas break 2012,” Copier said.
Copier said he was shocked the film received a PG-13 rating.
“There was like a brief drug reference with a joint, but it obviously promotes an anti-drug reference,” Copier said.
Copier said VidAngel felt comfortable supporting the movie although it’s not squeaky clean because it fit the quality of film its target demographic is accustomed to.
“It’s probably the cleanest PG-13 movie in the history of PG-13 movies,” Copier said.
Executive Producer Cameron Earl said in an interview he tried out film education when he attended BYU, but thought he wasn’t an artist like his classmates and decided to go into the business side of filmmaking. “Tim Timmerman: Hope of America” was his first movie.
“I literally walked onto set on the first day and I said, ‘Hi, I guess I’m your boss, and I have no idea what I’m doing,’” Earl said.
Earl said his favorite part of creating the movie was seeing the cast perform.
“All the actors now are like my family,” Earl said. “I call them my kids; they call me ‘Dad.’”
Earl said Perino was the fourth or fifth audition he saw during the early auditioning stages of the film.
“I said, ‘Stop casting. I found the guy. I want him so bad,’” Earl said.
Earl said it wasn’t as easy to find Chelsea Maidhof for the role of the female lead, Sydney. He went through thousands of auditions to find the right woman for the part.
“Eddie and Chelsea are really good at what they do, and that’s very uncommon in independent films,” Earl said. “They are a cut above the rest.”
Sawyer said much of the movie and characters were inspired by his own experiences in high school. A girl Sawyer had a crush on in school who was hard of hearing was the inspiration for the female lead, Sydney.
“She was the exact opposite of Tim Timmerman,” Sawyer said. “She was selfless, she was a hard worker, she was just everything Tim Timmerman wasn’t. Justin (Copier) and I wanted to write a character that was, I guess, the antithesis.”
Sawyer told the audience they could help by giving Tim Timmerman a five-star rating on IMBD and Rotten Tomatoes and by telling people about the film.
“We’re VidAngel’s first theatrical release, and if it does well, they’ll keep making movies, so we’re really excited about that,” Sawyer said.