Ava Trent hunts down a former classmate of hers, Alex Corman, and hires him to make a film for her. She hopes that it will bring the attention of her small home town to the demons she has faced since a troubling high school experience.

The narrative casts the impact that troubling experiences as kids and teenagers can have on people’s lives. In ‘Medallion’ Ryan Noufer builds a story around two very different former classmates who reunite years after high school. The film is riddled with tension from beginning to end as the story takes unexpected developments. The strong direction focuses on sole characters Ava and Alex, who are brilliantly played respectively by Lindsey Dresbach and Tyler Gentile. We spoke with Ryan who gave us a little more insight on the film and its intentions.

Can you tell us what inspired you to bring this story to life?

It was largely me contending with the troubling fact that I grew up in a culture that has known to prioritize the pleasure of men over the safety and mental well-being of women. As a male in highschool it seems innocent to be going along with the machismo routines of your fellow peers and I feel like a lot of times destructive masculine antics are excused at a young age as “boys will be boys”. But then those boys end up entering positions of power in industries (the film industry knows this tale sadly all too well) and these men think they can get away with anything because from a young age they were taught that their behavior was not only permissible but sometimes even celebrated. So that’s where the idea and metaphor of the “medallion” comes in. Those mentors and elders who goad on younger minds to go out and “chase tail” and claim women as trophies. Change is happening for the better to help eliminate this narrative — but it can never happen fast enough.

How did you go about casting for Medallion, who were you looking for?

Alex Corman was easy to cast — my childhood friend, Tyler Gentile, stepped into the role and we’ve worked with one another for so long now that it’s seamless and intuitive to build characters together. Ava was more difficult. Teddi Shaffer casted the role for me (she’s great) and we were looking for someone who had a dark naturalism. We wanted to stay far away from bombastic takes on the character. Ava is someone whose state of mania appears deliberate and reigned in and there’s something intimidating about how in control she seems — but below the surface is a storm of confusion/trouble. Luckily we found Lindsey Dresbach who understood the character perfectly.

As a writer/director are you open to changes or suggestions when you start shooting or do you like to stick to what has been written?

With every film I make I realize the looser you can be on set with the material, the more happy surprises you’re going to find. And it’s not just the writing. Sometimes I have such strict ideas in my head of what the blocking is going to look like but when you actually get on set you realize how it just doesn’t work when the camera comes into play. Being loose with the blocking and letting the actors discover how they naturally want to move is always best. And lastly: keep it simple. You don’t want confusing blocking to cloud an actor’s instincts.

What was the most challenging scene for you to film?

Definitely the forest scene. Hiking crates of gear nearly a mile into a forest with a limited crew — the one to two take nature of our lead downing a bottle of fake blood to then spit it up on her wedding dress — having only about a dozen smoke bombs to get the intro to the scene right — and a prickly ranger who wanted to kick us out half way through our shoot but then warmed up to us and I swear would’ve been a PA if I asked him to be — well, all of this led to a bit of a stressful morning.

What do you hope people will take away from Medallion?

I hope anyone who watches realizes that hyper-sexulization (especially when people are young and their sense of self worth is usually fragile) is more dangerous and wrong than it seems. In general, a good rule of thumb, let’s just not be creeps. Also, I want people to think about media that overly romanticises suicide and the decietifully alluring danger of that.

What are your favorite short films?

All of Ari Aster’s short films have been huge inspirations to me like “The Strange Thing About the Johnsons” and I mean “TDF Really Works” is just a classic. Also watching through the Safdie brothers short film collection is somewhat of a master class on low budget filmmaking done effectively. And then Jim Cummings is a huge inspiration for me too — “Thunder Road” is a must watch.

Which films you can say directly inspired this film?

The biggest one is “Super Dark Times” (2017) by Kevin Phillips. I watched that movie so many times before shooting because I was so obsessed with its tone and atmosphere. Also Sofia Coppola’s “The Virgin Suicides” (1999) for obvious thematic reasons.