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Meet the 2012 AFI FEST Filmmakers #11: ‘Only the Young’ Director Elizabeth Mims

Meet the 2012 AFI FEST Filmmakers #11: 'Only the Young' Director Elizabeth Mims

An unorthodox documentary and feature debut for director Elizabeth Mims, “Only the Young” is a portrait of three teenagers who “find things to do in a a place that offers nothing.” Set in a small desert town “just beyond the shadow of magic mountain,” the story’s young protagonists “discover first love, friendship and avoid the realities of becoming an adult.”

What else should we know about this film? “This is our first feature. We created a short called ‘Thompson’ that played Sundance. There we originally met Derek Waters our producer on this film. We also established a style that we also use in ‘Only the Young.'”

On telling the story of having a story: “Our biggest challenge at the beginning was convincing others that we knew we had a story. Our film being a very simple portrait about three teenagers was difficult to put into a synopsis that would lead us to funding. Also because the film isn’t an “issue based” documentary we realized early on that we were somewhat on our own. While holding other jobs we decided to commit our free time to shooting the movie with the resources we had at hand.”

The advantages of the tripod: “We shot the film completely on tripod so that our audiences would be able to focus on the moments they’re watching rather than being distracted by the filmmakers.”

What should audiences take away? “I would truly love for our audience to be able to return to those days in their past before dealing with true responsibility. A wandering magical time, where our first relationships change quickly but leave memories we can’t forget.”

What inspired “Only the Young”? “We wanted to make a film that showed teenagers that we could relate to. Neither Jason nor I were ever anorexic or pregnant. We were tired of all of these MTV shows like True Life that manipulate youth for ratings. Therefore it seemed because we were close in age to our subjects that this was the time to make a film about youth.”

What’s up next? “Currently I’m in the process of writing my first feature!”

Indiewire invited AFI FEST competition directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival. Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.

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