#SilverScreenDelights: Buffalo Boys (2013)

Welcome to the second edition of #SilverScreenDelights! This time around I managed to get a full feature on my hands. What started as elevator talk via twitter became a movie review complete with an interview. It was an amazing experience and something which makes movie review writing that much more rewarding. I have added the interview with Raymond Guarnieri below the movie review. Before I get too squishy about the experience lets start digging in to this movie and figure out what I thought about it.

Summary (Provided by the official Buffalo Boys website)

“Buffalo Boys” is an Award Winning Feature Film inspired by a true story. The film follows the life of IAN, a 15 year old living in Buffalo, NY. After discovering the man who raised him is not his biological father, Ian’s world is turned upside down as he heads down a path of self destruction and murder. His mother, MARY-ANN, refuses to name his real father, fueling Ian’s desire to escape suburbia. His girlfriend, LINDSAY, urges him to stay and work things out, while his best friend, DANIEL, continues to lead him down a violent path. Together, the boys sell drugs to make money- until their dealer, MAXINE, offers an easier way to get rich quick…

Plot Potential

The fact that Buffalo Boys is based on a true story was enough for me to want to watch and review this movie. Movies based on true events are interesting because everyone portrays the story differently. Raymond Guarnieri stated in the interview he wanted to keep this movie as accurate as possible. This was an event from his life that he wanted the audience to see. Knowing this about the movie truly made Buffalo Boys worth watching.

Aside from the accuracy of the movie, the idea of teenagers killing for money interests the ID Discovery fan in me. Motivations for murder are always fascinating to me because of the psychological and sociological aspect of the individuals involved. Buffalo Boys does a great job providing the audience a view at the sociological and psychological background of these individuals. It enhances the story and allows the audience to connect with the characters better and thus understand why they do the things they do.

Buffalo Boys gets a plot potential score of 30 out of 30.

Character Development

Buffalo Boys has interesting character development. Raymond Guarnieri mentioned he prioritizes his intentions for creating a film with story and character development first. He did not disappoint in his first feature film. Within the first 30 minutes of the movie I felt as if I was back in high school because the characters remind me so much of people I knew in high school. From there, I understood why a pair of teens would want to commit a murder for money. It wasn’t merely for the money anymore. It was an opportunity to live a “normal” life that everyone else seems to be living.

I think we have all known an Ian or Daniel in high school. They seemed normal on the surface when they were at school, but once you heard from others or from themselves you learned of a totally different person. It is this characteristic about Buffalo Boys which I think make it an interesting candidate for movie goers between the ages of 18-30. We are that generation of kids who have either hung out with people like Ian and Daniel or known them and assumed they were trouble without truly understanding the gravity of what they were dealing with outside of school.

The only issue I had regarding character development was the development of Ian’s girlfriend Lindsay. Aside from the fact that Ian sneaks in her bed room to have sex with her and they disagree on what constitutes a decent job, we really never get to know Lindsay as Lindsay. Lindsay is introduced as apart of Ian rather than as an individual. Seeing as Lindsay is the balancing force for Ian I think it would have been interesting to see Lindsay doing something or talking to someone for someone else other than for Ian.

In spite of Lindsay’s character development, Raymond Guarnieri did not disappoint on character development for the others. Character development gets a 40 out of 50.

Overall Presentation

Buffalo Boys has an appeal to it which really calls you in. The entire world of selling drugs as a teen with family issues is introduced in a way which isn’t at all over sensationalized or heavily saturated with teenage stereotypes and cliche one liners. If you were someone who had no concept of teens doing the things these teens do in the film, Buffalo Boys would kindly show you a world you couldn’t help but accept as a cruel reality. If you are a parent you might go as far as to even check your own children or their friends for signs of emotional trauma to ensure such a thing never happens to them. When a movie has that kind of power, it truly does deserve a second and third look. Such treasures are hard to find.

The overall presentation deserves a 20 out of 20.

Silver Screen Recap

Buffalo Boys has an amazing plot which involves teens and motives for murder. It received a 30 out of 30. Character development was amazing despite one character’s underdevelopment. It racked up 40 out of 50. And the overall presentation is such a force it will move you to take action in the life of a person you may know in your waking life. It easily managed a perfect 20 out of 20 earning Buffalo Boys a 90 out of 100.

Buffalo Boys will be released in theaters August 24th 2013.

Closing Remarks

I hope you enjoyed this #silverscreendelight. I truly want to thank Raymond Guarnieri for allowing me to review his work. I truly do believe this guy has the potential to continue forward making movies for a while. I hope Raymond continues to make movies. If this at critique motivated you to submit your short film or full feature for an honest critique from me, feel free to send it to me via twitter. I will have a link below for you to click on.  I hope you enjoyed this review. If more critiquing is what you crave please subscribe to Mrs. Critique. If you want to see what I am like outside of my movie blog follow me on instagram and twitter and friend me on  Facebook. Thank you so much for reading this review and don’t forget to check out the interview transcript below.

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Buffalo Boys Interview

This interview was conducted on July 21st at 3:00pm central time 4:00pm eastern time via phone.

Kassi: First of all I wanna say I really did enjoy Buffalo Boys. It was one of the best films I have watched in a long time.

Raymond: Wow, I’m glad you feel that way.

Kassi: I have had friends who were similar to these characters so watching it really took me back to high school.

Raymond: I definitely have lots of people tell me similar things about knowing people who were just like these kids. I was surprised at how common it was I kind of thought it was something that a lot of people could relate to, but the degree to which the number of people who have said that me is always surprising.

Kassi: I was like, “These are people who I know whose lives were made into a movie.”

Raymond: I think that is one of the things about taking on a true story you know especially a place where I am from with a suburban town and suburban school it is set in buffalo but it is like any other place in the country.

Kassi: It was so relatable no matter where you were from you could relate to that because you could relate to these kids.

Raymond: Yes. Yes.

Kassi: What was the process for picking the actor to portray these characters?

Raymond: Ian’s mother Mary Anne, Ian’s friend chief and Ian’s uncle where already pre-cased by two of my producers and myself. We started off as actors which is why some of my producers and I are in the film. For the lead roles, Ian and Daniel, and Maxine, the drug dealer, we wanted to stick with local western New York actors. The reason being was because western New Yorkers have a distinct dialect and we wanted to try and maintain authenticity so we did the first round of casting in western New York hoping to find our leads. We didn’t find leads, but we found most of the supporting roles like Maxine. The other leads which would be Ian, Daniel, and Lindsay we cast them out of New York City through a general casting call. The whole time I tried to keep in mind these characters are based off of people that I know. So I worked with my casting director Matt Tester who’s also one of my producers and plays chef. Tester casted all of my films so I relayed to him what I was looking for and we did our best to try and find people I felt could portray the people I knew.

Kassi: Wow, I liked how you wanted to keep the film accurate. I felt like everything was in place and you could feel that throughout the film.

Raymond: I’m glad to hear that.

Kassi: I guess maybe I’m just very detail oriented but you can tell. Sometimes when people make movies they don’t understand that when you watch a movie everything falls into place. I really did feel like we were with these kids from the beginning.

Raymond: Thank you.

Kassi: Something I also thought was interesting was how it seemed like Ian was going through so much.  It was so much that you would understand how he would rationalize a killing but when you see the reaction on Ian’s face as he saw Daniel kill Maxine’s grandmother. I was wondering what led to the build up?

Raymond: Ian’s internal conflict is different from Daniel’s because Ian, while they have similar family situations going on at time, has his girlfriend Lindsay who is the balance for him. Which is why in those final moments leading up to the murder when Lindsay calls Ian, he realizes what he is doing. He is constantly right on the fork of the road of going down the right path and going down the bad path. All of the conflict that is brought up with his mom and his real father and all that sort of pushes him one way or the other. Getting away from all of that is what pushes him to go through with the murder, but then hearing Lindsay tell him she loves him at the last moment kind of snaps him out of it. But when he sees what he’s done and it’s too late that’s where that shock and horror comes from. He never really thought about what it would be like once it happened. As a 15 year old you can’t really imagine the consequences of committing murder I mean you’re a kid. When he sees that it changes him.

Kassi: I was wondering if Ian maintained he and Daniels relationship afterwards?

Raymond: In real life there was a lot more to the true story that didn’t fit in to an 84 paged screenplay. I don’t think his relationship with Daniel would be the same. Daniel has a power over Ian because they basically relate but they don’t talk about their family problems. They relate to each on a level that they kind of share that in a silent way. I don’t think Ian really committed the same crime Daniel did. Ian felt guilty about getting off so lightly while Daniel didn’t.

Kassi: Did you intend to show these teens individual stories so we the audience understand why they would commit such an act to get away from their individual situations?

Raymond: My intentions from the beginning were two fold. I think primarily my intention was to tell this story from my life that I witnessed, not necessary experienced, as respectively that I could and in a way that would make it entertaining to the viewer. On the flip side my highest hope was to show how something like this can happen what are the different elements that come in play in an individual’s life that would cause them to do such a thing in the hopes that if a young person or adult watched it they would see the psychological process of this kids mind and less things like this would happen as a result in the future. That’s a very high moral goal but if that can change one person’s life or how someone might feel about something that happened in their past. I see films as a way of healing and learning about life as a human being. So I kind of wanted to make films that would align with my views in that way. I wanted something that would be real and human in a way that people could understand it.

Kassi: Usually in big blockbuster movies similar to Buffalo Boys the violence is sensationalized. I was wondering if you felt  by going the independent route for funding via Kick Starter you were able to keep your creative control and create this film more organically than if you would have went down a big production route where everything would have probably been over the top sensationalized?

Raymond: I think that being an independent filmmaker you have to use that to your advantage and it’s more than just creative control.  In my opinion, budget often hurts a film more than they help. I don’t know if I would want to make a $250,000,000 film I think that we use that to our advantage in a great way. I can’t speak for what it is like to make a film under a big production company because I haven’t done that yet, but I think we definitely got to make this film the way I wanted to make it. I can’t say how things would have been in another world but I definitely think the violence would have been sensationalized. In the beginning we went about making this film that could be picked up by a film distribution company because we put a lot of effort in to it, but in the end we didn’t do anything just for the money.  I prioritized my intentions where story and character development came first. After that, you think about your audience and try and make all of the best choices based on those things but never letting those other things come before story and character. It could have been a lot different if we had some people to answer to but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it is impossible to make a good movie with a profit minded individuals. You just have to find the right investors that they want to make money but they also care about the story. I think the Weinstein Company is a great example of a production company who cares about the story. That’s a production company I would love to work with for my stories in the future because when I go see the movies I know I am going to see a good story rather than all of these extra elements which are just for effect.

Kassi: I agree. One of the movies I saw which was produced by the Weinstein’s was Sarah’s Key. It was a movie about the segregation of Jewish people in Paris, France during the occupancy of Germany. I remember thinking it was an interesting movie because I enjoyed the way the story was told and how each character felt like a person rather than a generic filler character. It told a great story which stuck with you forever. Buffalo Boys is in fact a story and I appreciate your attempt at trying to make everything accurate. The most important thing to me is the story and the actors.

Raymond: Exactly.

Kassi: I appreciate you allowing me to interview you.

Raymond: No problem.

Kassi: You have a great evening.

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