Inspired by the deep friendships fostered at Chewonki, alumnus Booth McGowan (Semester 60) is making a feature-length film, Boys at Twenty, about closeness, masculinity, and growing up.
“With the omnipresence of screens, reaching a true connection feels harder today than ever before,” says McGowan, “Chewonki was my introduction to how vulnerable and close friends can be [with one another].”
During his junior year of high school, McGowan spent four months on Chewonki Neck, living in a cabin (Binnacle) with six other male students. Over the semester, the group formed a brotherhood of sorts. “Often, with masculinity, there’s this expectation that you need to be strong and figure things out on your own,” says McGowan. With his cabin-mates, in contrast, McGowan found he could share without fear of judgment or misunderstanding. They embraced without awkwardness and freely expressed their love and appreciation for one another — emotional displays McGowan says are rare among young men his age.
Reflecting on the last day of the semester (an event known for its outpouring of emotions), McGowan says, “I think the reason I cried so hard was that I understood that the level of closeness we encountered is tough to achieve. I had this feeling that it would disappear. Maybe this would be my one-and-only time to be this close with friends.”
Fortunately, this hasn’t been the case; McGowan says he’s learned to summon this closeness into his friendships at home. The skill has proved invaluable as he’s embarked on his film project, which is a collaboration with his childhood best friend.
“My film character is a version of me that never went to Chewonki,” says McGowan (who is acting in the film in addition to writing and producing). McGowan’s avatar longs for closeness but is afraid others will reject him if he doesn’t conform to the norms of masculinity. The film’s plot focuses on a weekend trip the character takes with his childhood friend, parallelling the process of making the film itself.
“There’s a concept in filmmaking that the more personal you get, the more universal and relatable your work will be,” says McGowan, who has been unflagging in his efforts to produce this movie, his first feature-length film. “I wrote fifteen drafts of the script,” he says, noting that many scenes incorporate his personal experiences and memories. The team has also raised $30,000 needed for production costs – not bad for a twenty-year-old student.
McGowan says that in addition to inspiring the subject matter for the film, Chewonki also gave him the confidence to pursue his creative vision. “The classes [at Maine Coast Semester] completely renewed my love for learning and helped me realize how hard I can work when it’s on something I care about,” he recalls.
What does he want people to take away from his film? Ultimately, McGowan wants people to walk away with the feeling that there’s something so beautiful about existence, even in all its messiness — the same feeling his favorite films have given him. They’re planning to start filming soon–in July! By next summer, McGowan hopes they’ll be pitching the film to festivals and distribution companies. We couldn’t be more excited to see where this project will go.
If you’re interested in learning more about Boys at Twenty, you can visit www.anothermotherfilmworks.com AND follow @anothermotherfilmworks on Instagram.
Best of luck, Booth!