Brandon J. Sornberger stars in writer-director Kuang Lee’s “Buddy Solitaire” as a struggling comedian on the late night circuit. But the only job Buddy can get is teaching comedy to the mentally ill where he discovers that by helping these patients, he can get closer and closer to healing himself.
The film’s official trailer was released on YouTube this week.
Lee’s original screenplay was a Sundance semi-finalist. He recently answered a few questions about the film.
Tell us what inspired you to make Buddy Solitaire.
For a couple of years, I performed stand up comedy on stages throughout Los Angeles. I wasn’t that good at it, but I learned a hell of a lot. I was going through some intense personal experiences at the time, which I was working out through comedy. Through this experience, I discovered that comedians were actually some of the most psychologically complex people out there. It takes a lot to get up there and bare your heart onstage. All of these factors combined to inspire the BUDDY SOLITAIRE script.
I actually get into the origins of the project in my BUDDY SOLITAIRE Kickstarter video. You can check it out here. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1254134309/buddy-solitaire
What were some of the toughest challenges you faced taking your story from script to screen?
The actual production was an amazing experience. I was really lucky to have a core team that consisted of my tireless producer Leann Lei, Line Producer Ben Gelera, Assistant Director Kevin Huie, and Cinematographer Jay Visit. With this group we were able to overcome pretty much any production obstacle. The toughest part was the fundraising, and then getting the whole film shot on our tight 17-day schedule. It’s all the stuff you hear about before you make your first feature, and then you get to experience it first hand!
What were some of the more cathartic moments for you as a filmmaker watching a story based on some of your own experiences unfolding through the characters?
That’s always a surreal experience, seeing your own experiences play out on set, or onscreen as you go through editing. But on a practical level, if you’ve been through these experiences, you understand the story like no other, so you’re better able to direct these types of scenes. There’s a personal connection to that type of material that you can’t fake.
As a storyteller, what do you most want to share with audiences?
In the film, Buddy Solitaire, down on his luck, takes a job teaching comedy to an Anxiety and Phobia group. I wanted to portray these characters with as much honesty and empathy as I could. With BUDDY SOLITAIRE, I wanted to tell an honest story about redemption and provide an authentic portrayal about mental health.
What’s next for you?
I’m finishing up my next feature, a true story about a scandal in corporate advertising. I’m also directing a web series called FRUIT FLIES with my friends in the Bay Area creative collective Coffee and Catchup. (https://www.facebook.com/coffeeandcatchup/?fref=ts).
Be on the lookout for those projects, and keep an eye out for BUDDY SOLITAIRE screenings by joining our Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/buddysolitaire/