12th Nov2020

Interview: Tara Johnson-Medinger talks ‘My Summer as a Goth’

by Phil Wheat

From director Tara Johnson-Medinger, and starring award-winning actor Natalie Shershow (Leverage, American Vandal), My Summer as a Goth is a coming-of-age story about the sometimes painful – often entertaining – search for identity and love in adolescence.

After the sudden death of her father, 16-year-old, Joey Javitts is sent to stay with her eccentric grandparents while her author mother promotes her latest novel. Joey promptly falls for the beguiling Goth boy next door, Victor, and is transformed by him and his merry band of misfits in black.

Set in present-day Portland, My Summer as a Goth navigates Joey’s relationships with her new friends, her family and herself, and will resonate with anyone who survived the social alienation of adolescence and that first summer heartbreak…

With the film out now on DirecTV and other On Demand platforms from  123 Go Films, we sat down with co-writer and director Tara Johnson-Medinger to discuss the film. Check it out below:

It’s fair to say My Summer as a Goth is one of the most different film experiences folks will have this year- and in the best way possible. Have you heard from people that it’s helped them escape the rather dreary year they’re having?

I was talking to a friend the other day that saw the film when it played on the festival circuit and she said, “I laughed and I cried – this was such a great movie”. That comment really made me smile because that was what I hoped for. I want this film to entertain with its witty comedy but I also want folks to be struck by how much emotion and heart it has. Joey’s journey is something that I think most people can identify with.

How much of a personal story is this?

My co-writer Brandon Lee Roberts is my best friend from high school. We have known each other a long time and there is a lot of our youth reflected in this film. We came of age in the ‘80s and hung out with the other alternative kids in our town. We wanted to infuse some of our experience growing up into this film but recognized that we also wanted the characters and story we were writing needed to be its own.

What have you learned about goth culture since prepping the film? I imagine you did a bunch of research into the segment of society that dresses a little duskier than most?

Like I said before, the goth, punk and alternative subcultures were very much a part of our growing up but we also wanted this story to be more reflective of what that subculture is for today’s youth. We did a lot of research in terms of music, dress and aesthetic and brought that into the film. We also had our Go-to-Goth consultant, Jillian Venters of Gothic Charm School with us from nearly the beginning of the project. She consulted on the script, wardrobe, makeup and did a workshop with our cast to talk about the Goth subculture. She also has a fantastic cameo in the film!

What was the idea behind releasing the film, globally, at the same time?

Initially we were to release in theaters in the summer but due to COVID a theatrical release was just not possible. After many discussions with my distributor, we thought the best way to get the film out was to do a digital platform release in the US as well as many other countries. I’m a bit of a cinephile and certainly wanted to see this film on the big screen – but we did get to have that experience through the film festival run. I’m just so excited to finally get the film out to (most of) the world!

Do you see different markets or countries reacting differently to the film?

I’m sure that will happen as this very much a US, Portland, Oregon story however, there are so many universal themes that I think it will be well-received worldwide.

My Summer as a Goth is available now on DirecTV and other On Demand platforms from 123 Go Films.

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