'American Summer,' out Sept. 9, based on true stories of Estonian book salesmen
Next Friday, an Estonian comedy directed by Rain Rannu and based on the true stories of Estonian university students who have spent the summer selling books door-to-door in the US will hit movie theaters across Estonia.
Charismatic book salesman Norris (Kristo Viiding), motivation book fan Alan (Jarmo Murumaa), adventurous Latvian Anna (Helena Pruuli) and skeptical Martin (Einar Kuusk) find themselves selling books door to door in a city in the American desert 8,000 kilometers, or almost 5,000 miles, away from home. They were promised the adventure of a lifetime and the opportunity to earn a lot of money, but is everything as it seems?
'American Summer' is the first Estonian feature film to be filmed entirely in the US, and it was shot guerilla-style — utilizing a small, enthusiastic team, 18-hour days of shooting and handy props and filming with regular people in their everyday environment in desert cities in California and Nevada.
Many Estonians will be able to relate to this film, as summers spent selling books in the US has become a unique phenomenon in the country — everyone knows somene who has spent at least one summer doing the same, whether things went well or badly for them; everyone has their own stories. This movie provides viewers with the opportunity to experience the same without having to sacrifice three months of Estonia's short summer to do so.
This is director and screenwriter Rain Rannu's first feature film. Rannu is previously and perhaps better known as the creator of Fortumo, an international mobile payment provider and one of Estonia's most successful startups, as well as one of the founders of the Garage48 series of events held to help other startups bring their business ideas to life.
Rannu himself also has ties to the US, having spent three of the past five years living in San Francisco, and having himself sold books door-to-door for three months one summmer 13 years ago. "It was one of the most vivid experiences of my life — very intense and colorful," he explained. "But generally I just think this is a fun and interesting story to which a lot of Estonians will be able to relate."
The film was produced by Estonian production company Alarahastatud Filmikompanii, and post-production and the bringing of the final product to theaters was supported by funds raised on Estonian fundraising website Hooandja.
The movie's Estonian-language trailer, which is largely in English, can be seen below.