After a few months of hanging out they decided they wanted to co-direct something, and Ovalle mentioned that his high school friends in the band Spendtime Palace had a new EP coming out and wondered if they could film a video together for one of the songs. Ovalle had already shot some acoustic sessions for the Southern California group, and when the new partners heard the driving western rock tune "Sonora," they got to work on a treatment.
"Once we listened to the song a bunch of times we were thinking of what the tone was and we thought it had a western feel," says Wolfhard, who co-stars in the video with Iris Apatow, the 14-year-old star of the Netflix dramedy Love and youngest daughter of director/producer Judd Apatow and actress Leslie Mann. "We thought, 'What if we do a Western, but with two teenagers in 2017 California?'"
Drawing inspiration from Clint Eastwood Westerns, as well as Steven Spielberg's classic early kid-focused suburban classics like The Goonies, they hit the mean streets of Costa Mesa, California for three days recently, to tell a sweet story of teenage love threatened by a classic mean dad (character actor Ron Rogge).
"We were inspired by watching those kinds of classic Spielberg kid movies for sure, and I think it's a cool idea that someone who is fourteen can still make someone happy in the sense of taking them away from an awful person," explains Wolfhard of his character's desire to save Apatow from an abusive situation.
Before all that, though, they had to find the cash to make the video, so they launched a crowdfunding effort earlier this year aiming to raise $10,000 to cover the shoot. To their delight, the funding ask raised more than $15,000 in just a few weeks. Funders got the chance to earn signed props, Skype calls and, for the high-rollers, a chance to come on set and watch the shoot.
"The main character, Spike, comes from who I wish I was when I was a kid," Ovalle said of the bike-riding, hat-wearing, slingshot-wielding hero played by Wolfhard. "I wanted to be exactly like Spike in this video in 7th or 8th grade."
And though -- spoiler alert -- he gets to kiss the girl at the end, just before her dad smashes his bike, Wolfhard said he's "very different" from Spike. "I do ride my bike a lot," he said. "Maybe just the willpower and persistence that I have in real life, but otherwise I'm not really like him."
The kiss wasn't a big deal, either, since Wolfhard said he's been friends with Iris for a while, and she said yes right away to the gig. As for mean dad Rogge, he's managed by Wolfhard's manager, and when the co-directors saw the actor's head shot -- complete with facial scar -- they went, "That dude is the dad."