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by Kathryn Loggins

Peter Seamnen, USA 2022

Struggling filmmakers Parker Seamen, Devin Das, and Wes Schlagenhauf have a very stereotypical Hollywood story. They come to Los Angeles (LA) full of hope, ambition, and the confidence that they are going to “make it big.” But as the years pass and parties start getting less fulfilling, they buckle down and swap pursuing their artistic dream project for making ends meet by making C-list commercials. Wes even leaves LA altogether and to make matters worse, the COVID-19 pandemic hits. Now all Parker and Devin can do is continue to shoot their crappy commercials, while arguing over Zoom about tiny artistic details that don’t matter in the slightest. The rose-colored glasses are off and none of these friends is what they would consider happy or fulfilled in life. Then Wes calls and says he has Covid and he’s pretty sick, so there's no way of knowing if he’s actually going to pull through. After the initial shock and concern wear off, Parker and Devin decide to take a road trip to see their ailing friend - maybe for the last time. But what kind of a road trip would it be, be if they didn’t bring their camera and document every second of it? That’s right, after talking to their agent, they realize that this could be the big break they’ve been waiting for their whole lives. They are going to document the trip and make it into a feature film. That’s not insensitive in any way shape or form, right?

WES SCHLAGENHAUF IS DYING is the directorial debut for Parker Seamen, who alongside Devin Das and Wes Schlagenhauf basically play a variation of themselves. The three of them are friends in real life and the idea for the film actually did come from a similar trip Parker and Dev made to see Wes, although he wasn't dying. In true candid fashion in his director’s statement, Parker admits that a drug-fueled night that led to a screaming match and ended in a sobbing love-fest was part of the inspiration for this movie. Ultimately, they wanted to make a movie about their specific friendship, what makes them laugh, what makes them cry and how they see the world, and that's exactly what they did. (KL)