When you think independent film, you envision a creative filmmaker scraping together funding, asking friends to borrow homes or other settings for a day of filming, and even enlisting talented friends who might know sound engineering or those that can act. I think this wonderfully written and well-executed production just might fit this rather romanticized version of an indie film. Shot in North Carolina over a 23 day period for a mere $25,000, Michael Howard brought his words from the page to full living color with the help of talented individuals who believed in his project. With the cooperation of the town to use churches, warehouses, and even the police department to shut down streets and use squad cars, Howard shows us that you don’t need a multimillion dollar budget to have a quality production.
“Where We’re Meant To Be” is a series of several vignettes which all overlap in seemingly random ways. It is this coordinated “randomness” that brings to the forefront of our thoughts how meaningful those smallest of moments in life just might be. As we find ourselves watching Charlie (Blayne Weaver) and Anna (Tate Hanyok) interact on a blind date, their journey sets the ball in motion, if you will. Their actions reverberate like ripples in the ocean, setting the scene for the next story. The domino effect of actions continues to stitch together several more stories revolving around death, God, happiness, murder, and even a first sexual experience. All of these lives are intertwined, sometimes marginally, but always beautifully and powerfully to send home the message that our actions have a lasting impact.
The stories are all very poignant, but the two that stand out, because of the incredible acting, are the blind date and the kidnapping. Weaver (“Favor”) and Hanyok (“Shameless”) portray that natural chemistry and awkwardness of a blind date that’s going quite well. Their communication, both verbally and non-verbally, brings you to the table to experience their thoughts and feelings, always with a smile on your face. It would be easy to listen to the two talk for hours as we learn about their lives and their older and wiser take on what the future holds. The film then takes a darker turn as we witness a kidnapping and crime with an undercover cop. It’s a brutal and harsh scene that will quite literally take your breath away. Howard takes on the role of John, revealing that this talented filmmaker is comfortable both behind and in front of the camera.
While there are some pacing issues, particularly as the sister deals with the guilt and aftermath of her brother and nephew dying, the heftiness of the topic may deserve the time allotted. The musical score in this film augments the stories perfectly, creating hopefulness as well as emphasizing some of the more dire situations. Overall, this film allows you to not only see the value in your actions and your words, but in the serendipitous nature of all the positive things in our world.
“Where We’re Meant To Be” is a thoughtful, beautiful film full of love and emotion. Creating such a philosophical and entertaining film on this budget should be lauded as a true accomplishment. Be sure to catch this film…it might just change how you see the world.