On Friday, March 28 rock doc "Mistaken For Strangers" hit theaters and became available On Demand and on iTunes and Examiner.com had the opportunity to see it. The film was originally a meant to be documentary following the band, The National, filmed by brother of band member Matt Berninger, Tom Berninger. The film quickly evolved into a story about Tom’s life working on one of The National’s world tours.
The amateur Youtube-like vlogging style of the film gave it a unique character and a raw feel for the emotional turmoil Tom experiences throughout his journey. Although the emotions are heavy at times when Tom struggles to find himself and his ambition, the film was also very comedic. There are scenes where Tom was goofing off, including a scene when the tour bus left without him! The film characterized Tom as a very lost individual, trying to find his voice with the help of his brother, Matt. Although Tom was officially a crew member on The National’s world tour, he ultimately films everything and ignores his job responsibilities. He was inevitably fired from the crew and his mother and brother provide support and guidance. We also get to see Tom work on the film's post production. Regardless of the many obstacles Tom faces throughout the making of his film and self discovery, he created a spectacular film, which shows all of his character. This was Tom's first major film, as he has made a couple small ones before, which he shows in this movie, and he hopes to continue on this path.
Check out our exclusive interviews with Matt and Tom from the New York premiere at Landmark Sunshine.
How did you get involved in this film?
Tom: I needed a job and my brother gave me a job on tour and I was literally using their fame to maybe shoot them and put them on my reel and use it for my portfolio. I was hoping to become a videographer some day, so I had no idea this was going to be a movie at all. But I just needed a job and he hired me.
Matt: I hired him not to be a filmmaker, but to be part of the crew.
What was the process of this evolving into a movie?
Tom: It became a movie in the editing process when I realized the movie is about me trying to make this thing and the struggles that I had trying to find myself and figure out what I'm good at and I had to finish what I started. The whole movie was about me and how I got in over my head, making a movie about an indie rock band with my brother, and now I had to finish it somehow. Somehow I had to do it, and that was the whole movie and it was a very organic process, but I had no concept in the beginning.
So did you know that it wasn't going to be about you guys and this whole thing was centered around Tom?
Matt: I didn't think it was going to be anything. I didn't think it was going to be a featured movie. I thought it was just going to be something for our website or make a video. I wasn't so sure and none of the band was so sure if we even wanted that. He was with us in the showers, in the hotel rooms, and he was there for some unflattering things, so we didn't want him to make something of the footage that he had, because we knew he had all this stuff. When it turned to be more about him and less about the band, that's when the whole band got behind it, too. We actually thought it would be really interesting.
So what's next for you?
Tom: I need to find another job. I'm going to start some acting lessons, and we live in LA now, so maybe work on my resume. We'll see what happens.
The New York premiere was sponsored by The Levi’s brand. Following the screening, guests headed crosstown to hot spot The Westway for sandwiches and snacks by The Smile and drinks by Stella and Red Bull. Guests danced to music by DJ Jonny around a huge Levi’s installation featuring their collection created especially for The National. Guests in attendance included The National band members Matt Berninger, Aaron Dessner, Bryce Dessner, Scott Devendorf and director Tom Berninger with additional celebrity guests Mumford & Sons’ Winston Marshall, Hospitality’s Brian Betancourt, musician Elvis Perkins, Christopher Abbott and Brady Corbet, J.C. Chandor, Anna Sui, Mike Birbiglia, Timothee Chalamet, filmmaker Antonio Campos, and Chaske Spencer, to name a few.
Vivian Chen contributed reporting.