Filmmaker 5 with J.R. Rodriguez: Remember Yesterday

Second chances at love. Whether its another shot at romance with the one that got away or an opportunity to pursue a passion long left behind, second chances don’t come around often. Remember Yesterday, a new feature film from actor turned first-time filmmaker J.R. Rodriguez explores the longing for another run at the life you’ve always dreamed of.

Diner owner Jenny Hill’s childhood sweetheart returns to their hometown to direct a film, turning her daily life on its end. Past hurts, present misunderstandings and future longings crash together forcing her to look at second chances she never thought she’d have. Romantic comedy Remember Yesterday stars Jana Allen and Adrian Monte in breakout performances.

Remember Yesterday releases on digital platforms February 14, 2023. Our Classic Couple Academy interview with Remember Yesterday writer and director J.R. Rodriguez follows.

Filmmaker 5.1:  Remember Yesterday is set in your own hometown of Wilmington, NC. What in the film reflects your own life and North Carolina upbringing?

Filmmaker J.R. Rodriguez

The Wilmington I grew up in is kinda different than where we are today. So, to bring to life Wilmington as a small town, we found areas that still reflected the charm of Old Wilmington. Most of our filming took place on Castle St. The hometown feel was important. A lot of the stores from 30, 40, 50 years ago are still there. I’m proud of the growth we’ve had in Wilmington, but I fear we may lose the charm that brought all this growth. Everything I’ve written takes place in Wilmington. The next one, we will take the same care to not forget we are the sleeping beach town underneath all the “21st” century stuff. 

Filmmaker 5.2: The film explores second chances from several angles. What about this theme inspired you to write this story?

You know, at the surface it’s a love story, but the second chance angle is a direct reflection on my adult life. I had spent a long time speaking about how I was going to do this or do that, but I would typically say that while sitting at a bar and getting another drink. I woke up one day and realized, I’m 46 and I’ve never tried any of those things. I will never lose sight of the fact that drinking was bad for me. That’s NOT to condemn anyone. It is a personal thing and a stall on my travels. When I got sober, I really didn’t know what direction I was going in…so, I closed my eyes, met an incredible producer in Jon Landau and threw caution to the wind. I won’t let myself forget, I could still fall on my face, but I have to get up and keep moving. I joke that I’m doing things now in my 50s I should have been doing in my 20s. 

Filmmaker 5.3:  As an actor yourself, what does this base of experience bring to your work as a director working with your cast?

I’m also a director of theatre, so I’m a true believer that if you have an iron fist, you have machines and not humans. My mentor, Lou Criscuolo once said to me, everything ever written for the stage or film was written for a human. I try to treat people as such. I try to go even farther by treating them like Artists. And Artists want to create. Stanley Donen once said, “Show up on the first day and get the hell out of the way.” Watch these people create and something special will happen. (Doesn’t hurt to have an INCREDIBLE CAST and CREW!)

Filmmaker 5.4:  You also explore drinking, alcoholism and losing control while under the influence in the film. How was this framing important to your character development and storytelling?

It goes back to a loud mouth that once never looked in the mirror. I’m finding, the more interviews I do, the more cathartic this film is, at least for me. I was a drunken bully. (Man, I just sound like garbage). The fear is, we walk down a street and we can’t come back. Yet, we don’t stop. Took awhile, but some how, I stopped. I’m learning more and more how precious my life is…as is yours!

Filmmaker 5.5:  Remember Yesterday is available on VOD on Valentine’s Day. Who is this love story for? What do you want audiences to feel about love after viewing it?

The film is dedicated to Lou Criscuolo. He was my teacher, my boss and my sounding board. He had a major influence on a number of folks in Wilmington.

But the story is for anyone who believes life is settled. One thing we don’t have to do is settle. We can always grow, we can always learn. Being a Southerner, I notice the generation before mine, generally speaking, are dreamers, but by definition, in my family at least, we don’t act on them. It’s a culture thing and I understand that. I’m not attacking my family; I certainly understand it. But even now, if there’s something you want to do, DO IT! There are folks out there a lot smarter than me and I believe they can turn anything into magic. I’m 56 years old and I’m still a dreamer…guessing that’s not gonna change.

I hope when you see this, you smile. You remember, life can be simple and still exciting. As anything, we should always create. Remember, no one fails; they just quit too soon. 

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Watch the Remember Yesterday trailer.

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