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Discover This 20-Year-Old Filmmaker’s Journey From Writing to Distribution

Uncover the journey of this young filmmaker, aged 20, as he transitioned “Our Final Days of Paradise” from his dorm room to streaming platforms.

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Uncover the journey of this young filmmaker, aged 20, as he transitioned “Our Final Days of Paradise” from his dorm room to streaming platforms.


I’m Avery Dohrmann, a 20-year-old writer/director, and I recently witnessed the release of my debut feature film, “Our Final Days In Paradise,” on streaming platforms just a week or two ago. Now, let me take you through the incredible journey of how I managed to bring this project to life.

The story begins in 2022 during my freshman year in college. I was sitting in my dorm room, diligently crafting the final touches on the screenplay for my second feature film. This particular scene I was working on was not only beautifully poetic but also the key to making this project a reality. You see, it was the first feature film idea I had conceived that seemed feasible to produce given my limited resources.

Unlike Hollywood blockbusters with explosive sequences or roles designed for A-list actors, my vision was quite different. It was a simple, almost reminiscent of the French New Wave, a slice-of-life film centered around two friends grappling with terminal brain cancer. Their story revolved around coming to terms with their impending mortality while embarking on a wild, cathartic journey in their final days. My script had heart, a captivating soundtrack, and most importantly, it was a project I could bring to life on an extremely tight budget.

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At that moment, I made a resolute decision to see this project through to its completion, no matter the challenges that lay ahead. I picked up the phone and called my friend Tommy, who was pursuing a business degree at a nearby college just a few miles away. “Hey, Tommy…how about we make a feature film together?”

Initially, he thought I was crazy. But in the end, he said, “Yes.”

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Tommy and I embarked on the task of assembling our cast and crew, but our selection criteria differed significantly from the conventional approach of most independent films. Instead of prioritizing credits and experience, we sought individuals who embodied qualities such as unwavering determination, a strong work ethic, and an unyielding drive.

Our Director of Photography, Jonah K. Richards, lacked any film or short film credits to his name, yet his work ethic was undeniable. Nathan Manriquez, our leading actor, balanced a job at a remote Colorado shipping company with his dedication to acting, primarily through online Zoom lessons and a well-thumbed Stanislavsky book. His relentless commitment shone through.

Tommy Anderson, our producer, was pursuing a business degree with aspirations of becoming an accountant, yet he was a tireless worker. Despite our limited credentials, one thing was abundantly clear: we were all diligent, hardworking individuals who were deeply committed to this project.

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Prior to entering pre-production, I had the privilege of conversing with a highly regarded producer who shared invaluable insights into the intricacies of producing a feature film. We meticulously followed his guidance, adhering to the established Hollywood feature film production process. Despite being a group of diligent novices, we relied on the time-tested methods imparted to us by this experienced Hollywood producer.

And somehow, against all odds, we achieved our goal. This producer played a pivotal role in making this film a reality and facilitating its release. Another individual named Jeffrey Deverett played a significant role, but I’ll delve into his contribution later.

The production of the film proceeded astonishingly well. Our emphasis on hard work over industry credits elevated the project to heights I hadn’t fathomed. This experience taught me that filmmaking isn’t solely about innate talent; it’s about meticulous attention to detail and an unwavering commitment to giving your all, day in and day out, until the film finds its place in the world. There was a moment of panic that overcame me one day during shooting when everything was going remarkably smoothly.

“This shouldn’t be happening,” I repeatedly muttered. “We’re just teenagers; this shouldn’t be happening.”

Perplexed, our lead actor Nate looked at me and asked, “What’s wrong with that?” I gazed at him, pondering the unprecedented nature of our endeavor. “When has a teenager ever made a feature film?”

Nate’s response has resonated with me ever since: “During my time in boot camp, my sergeant told me that whenever you believe something is impossible or you’re faced with a task no one has ever accomplished, remember that it hasn’t been done because there’s never been anyone like you before.”

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Following the conclusion of production in July 2022, the subsequent three to four months were dedicated to the collaborative editing of the film. By either September or October, we had what I believed to be the final edit of the film. During this intensive post-production period, I had the fortunate opportunity to study film business under the guidance of the remarkable Jeffrey Deverett. This individual possessed over three decades of experience in film distribution, a serendipitous encounter that occurred just as I was preparing to navigate the complex world of film distribution for my own project.

On the very first day of his class, Jeffrey shared a striking statistic that sent a shiver down my spine: a staggering 95 percent of independent films never secure distribution. These are films with larger budgets, prominent actors, extensive crews, and more accolades than I could boast at the time. I, a 19-year-old filmmaker, was about to embark on the daunting journey of seeking distribution for my debut film.

Nonetheless, that 5 percent represented a glimmer of hope. It might not have been a substantial chance, but it was a chance nonetheless. I was well aware that if I dedicated myself relentlessly, somehow, in some way, I could potentially secure distribution for the film.

Eight months later, in July 2023, I achieved the seemingly insurmountable. Nearly a year from the initiation of our filming journey, I had accomplished something I had once considered near impossible. It was undoubtedly labor-intensive, but it was a labor of love. Despite the challenges and hard work, I cherished every single moment of the process.

So, that’s my story. It doesn’t provide a step-by-step roadmap, but it serves as a testament to the notion that if you believe in yourself and trust those around you, and if you invest the time, effort, and unwavering commitment, perhaps, just perhaps, you can attain something that once seemed beyond the realm of possibility.

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