Miles Joris-Peyrafitte’s First Feature @ Sundance!

The news broke last night & the Times Union, the paper from Albany where the film was shot was quick to take notice:

Local film ‘As You Are’ gets selected for Sundance

Director Miles Joris-Peyrafitte with one of his stars, Amandla Stenberg, on the set of “As You Are” (Photo courtesy YouthFX)
Director Miles Joris-Peyrafitte with one of his stars, Amandla Stenberg, on the set of “As You Are” (Photo courtesy YouthFX)

Only a month and a half after it wrapped filming in the Capital Region — at 24 days and 29 locations, it was more of a blitz than a shoot — the independent drama “As You Are” has been tapped as an official selection to compete in the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

The film, a study of three teenagers in the early 1990s, is the debut feature directed and co-written by Albany Free School alumnus Miles Joris-Peyrafitte. Also involved in the shoot were several students and graduates of Youth FX, the award-winning filmmaking program based at Albany’s Grand Street Community Arts.

“It’s been the dream of mine since I was seven,” said Joris-Peyrafitte, 23, who now lives in Brooklyn. He said he got the call from a Sundance official, who asked: “How would you feel about coming to Park City, Utah, and premiering your film in the U.S. Dramatic film competition?’ And I was like, ‘AHHHHHHHHHH!’ I started, like, losing my mind.”

That was two weeks ago. Keeping silent wasn’t easy. “It’s been the hardest two weeks of my life,” he said.

Co-written by Madison Harrison, “As You Are” stars Owen Campbell (“Boardwalk Empire”), Amandla Stenberg (“The Hunger Games”) and Charlie Heaton (the upcoming “Shut In”) as adolescents navigating friendship, memory and identity in the early 1990s. Mary Stuart Masterson (“Some Kind of Wonderful”) and Scott Cohen (“Kissing Jessica Stein”) also star.

“We’ve had our eyes set on Sundance from day one, because the script was just such a Sundance film. … Just the subject matter, the concept of it, really just screamed ‘Sundance’ to me,” said producer Sean Patrick Burke. Specifically: “Teenagers finding their sexuality. Teenagers in the early 1990s, the grunge era. It’s just independent filmmaking at its finest.”

Joris-Peyrafitte, who based the film on a short he made at Bard College, also acted alongside Harrison and Majestic Tillman — the three of them old collaborators from their Free School/Youth FX days, back when they filmed ambitious little films with complicated sci-fi plots. A YouthFX crew worked on the “As You Are” set, documenting the shoot with behind-the-scenes footage.

“For someone of his age to be able to get his first feature film into Sundance is a huge accomplishment — and I’m really proud of him, and really excited for what this means for him as a filmmaker,” said Youth FX director Bhawin Suchak, who taught Joris-Peyrafitte at the Free School and oversaw many of his earliest productions. “So it’s obviously a pretty big step for his career. … He’s going to be a very sought-after filmmaker at this point.”

After shooting wrapped in mid-October, the filmmakers quickly pieced together a cut and submitted it to officials at Sundance, who were impressed enough to issue a six-day extension for a second edit. They sliced it down a half an hour and resubmitted, scoring a place in next year’s competition. “We still have to finish editing it, and do all the color, and do all the sound,” Joris-Peyrafitte said. He’s not sure when they need to deliver the final cut, but Sundance is set for Jan. 21-31.

“I just have goosebumps about this,” said Albany film commissioner Debby Goedeke, noting that “As You Are” marks the first locally shot film selected to premiere in competition at Sundance. (“The Place Beyond the Pines,” the 2012 Derek Cianfrance epic filmed in Schenectady, opened at Toronto.)

“You know, they came here with a vision,” she said. “They put it all together. … It’s just incredible. It’s a great honor for our region, and a great day for the local film community.”

In Joris-Peyrafitte’s view, the film’s selection affirms not just Albany and its filmmakers but YouthFX, which puts cameras in the hands of teenagers. “(It’s) the kind of program that gives students the autonomy and also the support to go out and make things, go out and tell stories, and at the end of the day, that’s what a place like Sundance is about: finding those voices, finding those stories. It’s more than an affirmation of Albany,” he said. “It’s an affirmation of that kind of pedagogy.”

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