"Goats," screening in Sundance’s Premieres category, debuted on Tuesday, Jan. 24. Before the screening, we talked with actors David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga and part-time Salt Lake City resident Ty Burrell, co-owner of Bar-X.
The movie, directed by Christopher Neil, is the story of a teenager, Ellis (Graham Phillips), who is estranged from his father, Frank (Burrell) and mother (Vera Farmiga), but depends on the advice of the pot-growing goat-trekking sage, Goat Man (played by Duchovny). When Ellis enrolls in an East coast prep school, he begins questioning the relationships in his past.
Vera Farmiga, who raises goats on her farm in upstate New York, said acting with the animals was one reason she signed up for the part. "I’m a shepherdess, so they had me at ‘goats," she said. The Sundance regular says she’s thrilled to be back at the festival, which always feels like the "start of a fresh year."
For her New Age character, she was inspired by the local spiritualists while filming in Tucson. Screenwriter Mark Jude Poirier, who adapted his novel for the film, loosely based the story on the house where filming took place.
David Duchovny, who plays the Goat Man, is making his first appearance at Sundance. "It’s the biggest film festival I’ve been to," he said. "The town looks lovely, very winter wonderland."
The most difficult part of his character, whom he described as a "philosphical, wacky southwestern New Age guy," was physical. "The beard was a difficulty," he said.
When he was first attached the project two years ago, he grew out his own facial hair for the part. But when financing fell apart, he shaved. By the time filming began about a year ago, he decided to rely on a fake beard.
Burrell says the tension between his character Frank, and his son, Ellis, is their similarities. Phillips, who plays Ellis, adds: "You’d have to be a stone not to recognize the levels of emotion in this film."
And for locals, Burrell suggests they order the Edison at Bar-X, a not very sweet, spirit-based cocktail, names for Salt Lake City’s Edison Street, at 252 South.