Downers Grove native directs first feature film

DOWNERS GROVE – The first time Downers Grove native Matthew Aaron moved to Los Angeles six years ago, it was short lived.

He was living in his car, parked for the night on Drew Barrymore’s block, he said, when he was robbed at gunpoint by four men. His mom convinced him to move back home.

“I got really depressed,” Aaron said. “If I do anything other than make movies, I’m not happy. Even TV, for me, is like ‘I have to learn to like this.’ Anything other than movies, it’s not me. I’m good at making movies – I’d be an OK cop, at best.”

Since then, he scraped to make his second stab in LA stick. Before moving back, he started a podcast from his parent’s house, took classes at Second City and started doing stand-up. All of which, he said, was a means to an end – making movies.

He moved back to LA for good in 2011, where he continued his Podcast, interviewing actors and other celebrities and building an audience, before selling the pilot for a TV show to a network.

The funds from the pilot, paired with funding from a list of friends, created the financing for his film “Bromance,” which he filmed in the Chicago area this summer.

Returning home for the shoot, Aaron remains bemused by his contentedness and fondness for the place he worked so hard to leave, but finds himself returning often.

“I’m driving around trying to figure out what it is about the suburbs that I am seduced to,” he said. “I’m like, ‘why am I here?’

“It’s hard for me to look at any other place and say it’s as special as Downers Grove. I know it’s lame to say that. For me, it’s like, I have so many memories here, that every place is special to me. XSport Fitness, which I’m sitting outside of right now, is the first place I had a legitimate crush on somebody. Home Run Inn Pizza – I used to have my birthday party there every year. I love the pizza, it’s great. I know everybody that works there. I love that, it’s me. It’s home.”

Aaron talks in a mix of a comedian’s wry self-deprecation and a radio host’s brash confidence, a tone that could create an interesting juxtaposition “Bromance,” which he stars in and wrote as well as directed.

The comedy follows a straight man, played by Aaron, who develops a close bond with a gay friend. The protagonist finds himself in a fish-out-of-water situation, then becomes jealous when his new friend begins dating someone

“It’s based off this five-piece blog I wrote last year after I had a friendship with a gay man in LA,” he said. “And basically what it was about was me and this guy, we had this relationship that I couldn’t have with my other straight buddies. Yeah I could watch the NFL with my guy friends and make fart jokes. But at the end of the day they weren’t willing to go to the museum or classy dinners with me.”

For the part of his friend in the film, along with the other roles, Aaron said he decided to cast real people instead of actors, partially on the advice of director David Gordon Green.

That advice goes along with the small-budget indie feel of the film, he said, which aims for a Mark Duplass or Joe Swanberg–style realism.

Filming was scheduled to finish this week, he said. Following editing and other post production, he hopes to have the film ready for film festivals this winter.

He said he made the film with the goal of appealing to both straight and gay audiences, with a general message of acceptance.

“But I don’t do anything political,” he said. “My main goal out of it is that people like it and people enjoy it, and that we do another small film.”