Damascus, Oregon-based director Martin Bannon Beaudet’s debut feature Losing Addison has its theatrical premiere at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland on Thursday, July 21. For Beaudet, it’s been a long time coming in a variety of ways.
For one thing, Beaudet came to a filmmaking career relatively late in life. His first career was with Charles Schwab in San Francisco, and after an abortive attempt at buying a house in Portland in 1992 (“The deal fell through because the woman didn’t want to sell to a Californian”), he took a position as an editor for various computer-themed magazines.
Beaudet and his husband eventually made it back to Oregon, where Beaudet embarked on a novel-writing career. It took him eight years to get his first book out, but its follow-up came much more quickly. “In 2011, I had a vivid nightmare,” he recalls. “I woke up staring at the ceiling, and suddenly I could remember the entire dream from beginning to end, as though it was a memory of something lived. I don’t usually remember my dreams long enough to even tell my husband about them.”
He leapt out of bed, started writing it down, and fifteen days later, the novella Losing Addison was sent off to be published. It tells, largely in flashback, the story of a pair of twin brothers in conflict over what to do about their ailing, suicidal mother, and the agony of one twin when the other disappears without explanation from his life.
Beaudet recognized some of these themes from his own life. “I’m sure the dream had something to do with the fact that I was one of a ‘vanishing twin syndrome’ pair. Sometimes when a person is pregnant with twins, at some point in the pregnancy one twin subsumes the other and only one child is born.”
He had known since childhood that this was the case, because his parents had allowed their older children to choose the names for their expected twin siblings. Being big fans of The Mickey Mouse Club, the kids chose Spin and Marty, after the boys who starred in a series of shorts on the show. “So the fact that, at the age of 55, I’m having this nightmare about having lost my twin and can’t find him, is no coincidence.”
In addition, Beaudet’s mother was at that time in her 80s and, he says, “had been asking to die. She would say, I have nothing left in life. She had attempted suicide in her younger years, but no longer had the wherewithal to do it herself. But every time I talked to her, she wanted to die.” That tragic element also made it into the dream, the book, and now the movie.
The next year, Beaudet attended a preview screening of Portland director Jon Garcia’s film The Falls, which is about gay Mormon missionaries. “My first novel was about gay Mormon missionaries,” he says, “because I myself was a gay Mormon missionary.” With that in common, Garcia and Beaudet became fast friends and collaborators, with the latter serving as a consultant, and then a producer, on Garcia’s next two installments in the Falls trilogy.
Hoping to turn one of his own books into a film, Beaudet started with his third novel, Senseless Confidential, but, he recalls, “it was a really expansive, expensive project. I got Wil Wheaton attached to star, but eventually we couldn’t make the budget, so I had to shelve that.” Losing Addison, a shorter and more contained story, was the logical second choice. Writer and actor Adam Elliott Davis, who was staying in Beaudet’s ADU, collaborated with Beaudet on the screenplay, signed on as a producer, and ended up with a lead role when the original actor cast dropped out during pre-production.
This was only the beginning of the winding path that Losing Addison took to the screen. One fortuitous step on that path was the casting of Twin Peaks star Sherilyn Fenn in the role of the twins’ mother. “Originally we were thinking of an older actress,” Beaudet says, “because I was seeing my mother as she was then, in her 80s. I wanted someone who resembled my mother, not so much in her looks, but in energy and character. My mom was beautiful and vivacious in her younger years—she dated Frank Sinatra—and she was outspoken, which got her into a lot of trouble several times.”
Fenn fit the bill. Her scenes were shot about a month after the rest of principal photography, to coincide with Fenn’s appearance at a comic convention in Eugene. “One of our post-production sound engineers, John Neff, was David Lynch’s right-hand man, built his sound studio, and worked on Inland Empire and Mulholland Drive.”
Beaudet picked Fenn up in Eugene and drove her to Portland. “The first thing she said when she got in the car was, ‘Tell me about your mother.’ So I told her my mother’s stories, and she told me hers, about how she met Johnny Depp and Prince. She was really easy to work with.”
The story originally had the twins living in San Francisco and travelling to Portland to visit their mother, but it was changed to be set entirely in Oregon. Beaudet insists upon geographical accuracy in his writing and his filmmaking, because “that’s important to me when I watch a film. Living in San Francisco, I’d go to see movies like What’s Up Doc? or Bullitt, and there’d be a chase scene where they turn a corner and suddenly they’re a mile across town. Audiences would boo. So I know that audiences pay attention to the details.”
Some of the funding for Losing Addison came from a Kickstarter campaign, and a round of seed money provided enough to begin pre-production. Ironically, after signing a SAG Ultra-Low-Budget contract, which capped the film’s budget at $200,000, another investor emerged who offered to contribute $3 million towards the film. “We couldn’t use it!” laughs Beaudet. “We offered them the chance to put that towards my next film, but they wanted an investment now, so we couldn’t take it. That was really sad.”
Now is probably a good time to mention that this all happened almost five years ago. Principal photography took place in October and November of 2017, with some pickups shot in May of 2018.
“Adam and I took the film to AFM [the American Film Market] in 2018,” Beaudet says, “and we got three offers, but we thought we could do better so we turned them down. In 2019 we were still making tweaks to the film and shopping it around on our own. And then COVID hit, and everything was dead in the water. I was sure the whole thing was done for. Then in 2021 we got a bite from Mutiny Pictures. So after we signed the contract with them, I begged for some more time to make some final edits, and at the last minute I had a whole new score written by Jason Wells.”
After years of nightmares, delays, reshoots, and pandemic shutdowns, Beaudet was understandably disenchanted at times by the whole process. But having that much time allowed him to make most of the changes he felt were needed, and to make Losing Addison the best movie it could be. Mutiny Pictures released it last month to various video-on-demand platforms, and now it will see the light of day for Portland audiences.
If nothing else, Beaudet can say he has directed a feature film that has been commercially released, which is no easy feat. As he says, “I have the battle scars to prove it, and the therapy bills!”
(“Losing Addison” screens at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 21, at the Hollywood Theatre.)