Talking with filmmaker Joe Raffa for about a hour in early June in the immediate wake of his first feature film, You'll Know My Name, getting its summer DVD release, I got the impression that Raffa has the sense of filmmakers twice his age, a sentiment that is certainly shared in "The Making of You'll Know My Name," the key, 9-minute, extra on the DVD.
Joe Raffa aka Joey Rafs went to Temple University for a semester. He left, deciding to use the money saved for college to make a movie. Raffa loved telling stories and felt filmmaking was the most effective way. Yet, he didn't want to wait in a classroom for four years.
He wrote the semi-autobiographical screenplay for You'll Know My Name at the age 19, just three years ago. Raffa told me that my review of his movie was the only one he saw that made reference to Rebel Without a Cause (1955), a film that was the inspiration and key influence for him here from tone to theme to even costume choices.
The structure of Raffa's movie and even some, specific shots also borrow from High Noon (1952), but Raffa was a real fan of films like The Outsiders and Rumble Fish (1983). Francis Ford Coppola directed both films, which were both about tough, middle to low-income teenagers who fight. This is essentially a premise to which Raffa's movie goes, but the realism that Coppola portrayed in his 1983 films, Raffa would argue, hasn't really been captured since. The possible exception could be the works of Larry Clark, but Raffa wanted to realistically portray suburban teenage life because we weren't getting it in any of the films that were coming out recently. You certainly weren't getting it in the Twilight films.
Raffa says quite frankly that he wrote the movie "out of disgust." He looked at some of the things happening around him and he didn't like it. With this movie, he wanted to hold a mirror up and show what was wrong. One thing that irked him was all the potential that was being wasted. Raffa said he saw young people hanging out and doing nothing all day when their efforts could be applied in so many different, positive ways. He said it seemed as if almost everybody had this sense of entitlement.
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