The story follows a young man trying to balance the various influences around him as he contemplates his greater ambitions in Southern West Virginia.
Between starting a new job as a garbage collector and doing small dope deals with his cousin, Steve, a 16-year-old, finds himself pulled in a number of directions that has him questioning his ambitions and the man he wants to be. The film explores themes of responsibility, choices, and consequences through the eyes of a young man entering adulthood in a small town. The Usual Route is based off selections from Steven Dunn’s novel, Potted Meat, a collection of short stories that deliver a poignant reflection on ideas of masculinity, loss of innocence, and the daily ups and downs of life in rural West Virginia.
CLICK HERE to view the Electronic Press Kit for The Usual Route.
CLICK HERE to find out more about Steven Dunn and his novel, Potted Meat.
Upon discovering Steven Dunn’s novel Potted Meat, I immediately felt a connection. Dunn was not only from my neck of the woods, he expertly weaved themes of consequences, redemption, and race in his novel without a heavy hand. His prose creates poetry out of the usual and seemingly mundane. The novel subverts stereotypes of the south, while simultaneously capturing the heart of it. Much like my favorite films, Potted Meat, captures a community through language and culture that feels relatable, topical, and real. My intention is to bring that same authenticity from the source material into my film adaptation of his novel.
The Usual Route paints a portrait of a young man trying to balance the various influences around him while contemplating his greater ambitions. I could identify with this character, as a young man raised in a small southern town in West Virginia, surrounded by the multifaceted dynamics of race, class, and community. As I get older, the more I understand how those dynamics not only shaped me but also influenced the stories I want to tell. I am inspired to make films that seek to give a voice to real people and stories, while tapping into universal themes of humanity.
My intent is for The Usual Route to have an ambiguity that accumulates over scenes and a sense of participation that encourages the viewer to find their own meaning in the characters and story. My goal is to tell stories about relatable people and real dilemmas. My work is influenced by filmmakers such as David Gordon Green, Andrea Arnold, Charles Burnett, and Terrence Malick. These storytellers have the ability to bring you into the lives of ordinary people through films that are unpretentious and endearing. There is no agenda in their films, yet these stories are often didactic. These are the sensibilities and authenticity I want my film to embody. I hope to create an entertaining and poignant film that reflects on my southern roots and culture.
Cory C. Warner