"After hearing a number of stories, I started looking into immigration issues," Marshall Lewy said when asked how he came to the story for his new film, "California Solo." "You hear stories of people who have green cards and have lived here for 20 years being removed from the country. It's incredible."
"California Solo" focuses on one man who faces deportation. Lachlan MacAldonich (Robert Carlyle) is a washed up middle-aged rocker who is working on an organic farm, mostly with undocumented Mexican workers. One night, Lachlan gets pulled over while driving drunk and a prior drug offense puts him in danger of being deported. While awaiting trial, Lachlan becomes closer to a friend going through a breakup. In a last-ditch effort, Lachlan must prove that his deportation would cause extreme hardship to a US citizen spouse or relative and so he must convince his estranged family to get on his side.
"It's a very California movie," Lewy said. "A lot of the places we shot at were a few blocks from where I live. It's a part of southern California that doesn't always get shot, even though it's so close to the heart of the film industry.
"The last movie I did, we shot in Winnipeg. This time, it was really great to be able to use the resources of the people in your neighborhood and to walk to work. We got to shoot one scene in a huge $6 million house for free. A few weeks later, the house was sold to [Red Hot Chili Peppers'] Flea."
Lewy continued, "It's one of those movies that hangs on one character. Actors will go and talk to their other actor friends and he's going to back and tell them that he was literally in every scene of the movie. A lot of movies that I love -- like 'Tender Mercies' and 'Cool Hand Luke' -- are films that really center around one guy."
On snagging "Trainspotting" star Robert Carlyle for the title role, Lewy said, "I wrote it with Robert Carlyle in mind and his voice in mind. I wrote the whole script and he agreed to do it and it worked out. We gave him the script, and he loved it. It's always important to know who the lead is, especially in this case."
Soon after being cast in the role, Carlyle took to guitar lessons, learning how to portry a former guitarist for the fictitious Britpop band The Cranks who spends his spare time recording a podcast, "Flame-Outs," that recounts deaths of music's royalty.
As he oversees post-production on this film, Lewy is keeping busy writing a new script called "Exodus." He's also adapting the book "Born to Run" (In Lewy's words: "the book that popularized those five-toed shoes") about ultra-marathon runners, those that run in races that last for 100 miles or more, for what will be Peter Sarsgaard's directorial debut.
Director/Writer: Marshall Lewy ("Blue State")
Producer: Mynette Louie ("Children of Invention")
Co-Producer: Ross Girard
Director of Photography: James Laxton ("Medicine for Melancholy," "The Myth of the American Sleepover")
Editor: Alex jablonski ("She Hate Me")
Cast: Robert Carlyle ("Trainspotting," "The Full Monty"), Alexia Rasmussen ("My Idiot Brother"), Kathleen Wilhoite, A Martinez, Michael Des Barres, Danny Masterson