Editor’s Notes: In the Treetops had its world premiere at the 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival on June 14th.
There are few times in life where you experience the unmitigated freedom of being a teenager in an automobile after the town has gone to sleep. You gather your core group of friends and set out into the night, excited for the infinite possibilities and the freedom to flesh out your identity without adults intruding and punishing you with guilt for the sin of being young. Your imperfections are obfuscated in darkness and you can finally talk to the person you have secret feelings for without feeling self-conscious about the battle scars on your hormone ravaged face. Parking lots become places to blow off energy and hold court while the adult world sleeps. Despite the seemingly inconsequential nature of friends going out to have a good time, these nights can contain some of the most profound moments of your life. You begin to learn who you truly are, determine which boundaries you are unwilling to cross, and make mistakes that if you are fortunate and attentive enough will provide lessons that will stay with you for life.
In the Treetops is about one of those nights, and as a group of friends set out into the darkness they will forever be changed in ways they may not even fully realize.
In the Treetops is about one of those nights, and as a group of friends set out into the darkness they will forever be changed in ways they may not even fully realize. Using verite camera techniques, we are given intimate access to their journey and ride along in the passenger seat as this tight-knit group of friends set out on their usual weekend odyssey of self-discovery. The cinematography uses yellow sodium vapor lighting to make things visible in the dark, adding a dream-like quality to this journey as it collides with omnipresent Christmas lights to create a world that belongs to the teenagers that roam its streets. This collision creates a functional aesthetic that allows this nighttime wonderland to be easily seen and lends itself to magical moments of colorful, cinematic bokeh as homes covered in Christmas decorations explode into spectacles of multicolored orbs. The use of Christmas decorations also brings magic to a moment of self-discovery as characters are bathed in the otherworldly light of the large metal tree that they find temporary refuge under.
Using verite camera techniques, we are given intimate access to their journey and ride along in the passenger seat as this tight-knit group of friends set out on their usual weekend odyssey of self-discovery.
In the Treetops is a lovely journey of self-discovery and an honest portrayal of the lives of American teenagers who are on the verge of making the long confusing transition into adulthood. Through its verite techniques and uncomfortable proximity to the actors we are given the passenger seat for a night of infinite possibilities. Despite the film following a group of friends from high school, the school itself is never seen and there are no contrived events to add dramatic tension. School was the place we were forced to deal with, but when we reflect back on our formative years we tend to think more of the inconsequential nights when we explored the world on our own terms for the first time. The characters are in a transition period from their teenage years to adulthood when their hormones are waging war with their complexions and faculties, and while this is a time of wanton self-exploration through promiscuity and drug use for many at that age, these characters possess a maturity and self-awareness that isn’t typically portrayed in films about teenagers. They are at times vain, irritating, enlightening, hostile, considerate, and inconsiderate, but they possess an understanding of the bigger picture and aren’t slaves to their base impulses. They are uncomfortable exposing the full truth of their thoughts and emotions to one another, but many people live their entire lives behind a mask that keeps them protected from accidentally revealing their innermost demons.
In the Treetops is a lovely journey of self-discovery and an honest portrayal of the lives of American teenagers who are on the verge of making the long confusing transition into adulthood.