Jonny teaches Tommy how to drive.

Seeing the image of a grown man teaching another grown man how to drive is a little odd to begin with, but when director José Andrés Cardona makes the scenes as intimate as they are in ‘Sundays‘, it sets up the tone to the film’s unsuspecting direction. The audience is drawn-in to think we are being set up for a comedy, but the film takes a dramatic turn when the men’s true relationship comes to light. Beyond the film’s unexpected direction, we are even more surprised by its unexpected emotional experience.

Hunt Beaty, Wesley Wingo, and I have been making shorts as a collective since the very end of last year. We’re all good friends and decided to start making shorts with the idea of pushing our narrative interests forward again after being in the commercial world for so long. You go to film school, you graduate in a recession, and you kind of enter survival mode in one of the most expensive cities in the world and take what you can get in your chosen field – at least that’s kind of what it seemed like for us.

The idea was to start small, just get one done under parameters we had set: stay close to NYC, keep it cheap (real cheap), rotate directors (director pays), make it doable with a tiny crew (primarily us), finish it fast, and release it into the wild. It’s honestly almost exactly like a class we all had at NYU called Sight and Sound: Film; but instead of releasing it in the classroom, we’re releasing these online.

All of the shorts we’re making are being written and rewritten right before we shoot. One or two have been based on or included some old ideas, but we’re mainly reverse engineering these with simplicity and our available resources in mind.

José Andrés’ close up takes in the first scene create just a fantastic build up to a rather simple story, yet so incredibly profound in every other way. Full of surprises and shifting emotions lifted through the characters and their surroundings. According to José, “Sundays” was just largely inspired by the neighborhood that Hunt has lived in over the last few years: Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. A neighborhood that has mostly stayed true to its roots – and while there has been some gentrification (Hunt) – there is plenty of Old Brooklyn here.

I’ve been visiting for years since we’re buds, but this fall, I actually started subletting Hunt’s extra room temporarily and got a day to day taste of the old neighborhood. There’s a lot of guys’ guys and a lot of living up to stereotypes.

The short started with the characters: two of these guys from the neighborhood, part of the community in every way, living up to their stereotypes and expectations, but ultimately not really fitting in and only being able to be honest with each other in short bursts. Sundays after church, when you’ve fulfilled your morning obligations with the family and can go hang out and “watch the game for a bit” before dinner. That’s where these guys can be free.

Unfortunately, you can’t often live two lives without eventual interference.