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Augustine Frizzell Made Her Movie 'Never Goin' Back' Twice -- Here's Why

Camila Morrone (L) and Maia Mitchell (R) star in Augustine Frizzell's movie Never Goin' Back.
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By Steven Cuevas & Monica Bushman

Augustine Frizzell shot her debut feature film Never Goin' Back. Then she made it again.

The first time was in 2014. While Frizzell had made a couple of short films at that point, she hadn't written or directed a feature-length movie before.

Frizzell told KPCC's The Frame that it was when she started editing the film that she knew she'd listened to too many outside voices and strayed too far from the story she'd set out to tell.

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"It's a scary decision to say, 'I'm not putting this out there,'" Frizzell said. But with a lot of encouragement from her friends, she decided to start again.

With the existing footage she had, she ended up making a short film, aptly titled Minor Setback. Then she rewrote the film, this time "trying not to cave into fear," and shot it with a completely different script and cast.

It's a semi-autobiographical teen comedy whose main characters Angela and Jessie are high school dropouts, living on their own. It goes where not many movies do, telling a story of what it's like being young and poor.

They wait tables at a Dallas-area diner and smoke huge amounts of weed any chance they get, while getting into one scrape after another. But all they really want to do is get down to the beach in Galveston to celebrate Jessie's 17th birthday.

Never Goin' Back writer/director Augustine Frizzell (center) with the film's director of photography, Greta Zozula.

While the film is largely based on Frizzell's own life, revealing her personal story wasn't what she found frightening. "The personal stuff was fine," Frizzell said. "I never minded that. It was the more risque stuff like an hour-long running poop joke... and the gross-out humor. It's not for everyone, but it makes me laugh."

In the end, Frizzell said, she's happy to have made a film that was true to her comedic vision and one that she wished she'd been able to see when she was trying to make ends meet as a teenager.

"There are very few, if any, comedies about impoverished youth," Frizzell said. "Because it's a heavy topic. It's really drab and sad, and people have sympathetic feelings for impoverished youth, and that's what we were."

"We didn't have parents, we'd been kicked out, we didn't have any money, we worked at the IHOP, making it day-by-day, had to drop out of school. It was just a heavy situation, and so it makes sense there aren't any comedies about that, because it's dark," Frizell said. "But I thought, that was my teen experience, and I look back fondly on so many of these things, and I want a teen comedy from my teen experience."

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"Never Goin' Back" opens in theaters this Friday, Aug. 3.

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