Jack Roberts and Justin Monroe grew up in Oklahoma as awkward youths with big dreams. And that’s why their new movie, “The Rock ‘n’ Roll Dreams of Duncan Christopher,” is able to so successfully express that angst.
Already a winner of awards at five film festivals from Tulsa, Okla., to Edmonton, Alberta — and an official selection in 11 other film festivals, from Vermont to Buenos Aires — “Rock ‘n’ Roll Dreams” makes its Oregon debut tomorrow, on the opening night of the BendFilm Festival.
It will be presented at 9 p.m. at the Regal 1 Theater in the Shops at the Old Mill District. Tickets are $10, available at the venue or online at http://www.bendfilm.org.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll Dreams” is a fictional work, but it’s not that far removed from the memories of Jack Roberts, the movie’s star and writer.
The movie’s main character, Duncan Christopher, is the son of a rock star who flipped out and died. That didn’t stop Duncan from wanting to be a rocker like his daddy. Raised in social isolation until his 30th birthday, he moves to Tulsa and tackles his dream … initially, in a karaoke bar.
Roberts was unable to make it to Bend for the festival, but in his place are Heather Roberts, his wife and co-star, and Justin Monroe, his longtime friend and the movie’s director. They joined me today for a round of drinks and conversation at 900 Wall.
I quickly learned that there is much more to “Rock ‘n’ Roll Dreams” than first meets the eye.
“When you make a movie, you have so much opportunity to benefit the community,” Heather said. “A project like this is so life-giving.” And that, she said, is the premise upon which their production company, Hearth Creative, is founded.
“We want to go into communities and develop our films as part of those communities,” she explained.
“Duncan’s story is basically Tulsa’s story,” Justin added. “We moved from Los Angeles back to Tulsa, where Jack and I had grown up. For three years, we became part of that community again. We used as many local actors and musicians as possible. Our amazing soundtrack is 99% local (a CD will be released soon).
“This is a heartfelt story. It is about awkwardness and occupational dynamics. And we hope we take our viewers on a journey: Certainly, as you watch the movie, you get somewhere different than where you started.
“We wanted to shine the metaphorical belt buckle of Oklahoma.”
The Roberts and Monroe families — Heather (a former Congressional aide) and Jack have two young children; Justin (once a rock ‘n’ roll singer) and his wife, Kasey, have a preschool-age son and daughter — have just moved to Portland. They intend to benefit Oregon just as they did Oklahoma, and are already seeking out musicians to help them with the soundtrack of their next movie.
“It will be a modern-day Western on the Oregon Trail,” Justin said. “Jack is just finishing the seventh draft. In scope and time investment, it will be 10 times bigger than ‘Duncan Christopher.’ ”
The director said he hopes to begin shooting the movie in the spring and summer of 2011, with Jack Roberts riding horseback from Kansas City to Portland.