Brandon Golden ’17 grows Barren Trees into feature film

Brandon Golden’s production company, Project 10K, is funding Barren Trees, a feature film to be released next week. Photo courtesy of Brandon Golden

When Brandon Golden ‘17 started his own production company, Project 10K, his goal was to give young filmmakers $10,000 to produce a feature film. Now its project, Barren Trees, is set to release next week in Los Angeles.

Barren Trees will be screened at Arena Cinelounge from March 23-29. Golden said the target audience is college-aged people experiencing loss.

“The movie is about people in different situations who happen to be struck by loss in the same way,” Golden said.

Golden and Project 10K funded the movie with a budget of $60,000, using money from private investors and his own savings.

“If I’m going to put my money somewhere, I want to put it into a film I care about,” he said.

Lei Zhenchuan directed and co-wrote Barren Trees with Ryan Eatherton ‘16, who acts in the film. Zhenchuan and Golden decided to create low-budget indie films while they both worked at Brainco, a small tech startup based in Somerville, during the 2016 fall semester.

“During this time, I reached out to Ryan Eatherton, and we wrote a script specifically with the idea in mind that we could finish a film on a lower budget and a short time frame,” Zhenchuan said.

Zhenchuan originally pitched an overly ambitious script with more characters, locations, and action sequences. Golden declined.

“I loved the writing, so I got him to write a new script,” Golden said. “So, it’s not that I got a script I liked—it’s that I trusted the people who were writing it.”

Golden said Barren Trees was not the movie he expected to make, but that he was happy with the outcome.

“I wanted to give [Zhenchuan and Eatherton] creative freedom, which is a very important model for Project 10K,” Golden said.

With the release of Barren Trees and his launch of Project 10k, Golden hopes to show filmmakers and storytellers that any project can be successful.

“This was me flexing my muscles as a producer saying, ‘You know what? I can make a movie‘,” Golden said. “I love Emerson. They’ve given me tons of help, but they’ve always encouraged short films being made. I wanted to do a feature and go the full mile.”

Golden said he is optimistic about his future and excited to produce more films. He is working on a film called Castable about the representation of people with disabilities in Hollywood.

Even though he thinks he will make larger projects in the future, Golden said he is still pleased with all the work put into Barren Trees.

“I am proud of my crew, I’m proud of the script, and I’m proud of how it turned out,” Golden said. “I couldn’t be happier.”

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