Let’s face it, anyone can make a movie in 2024 with the help of GoPro technology or a trusty iPhone. But to get an indie film made starring A-list talent and receive a theatrical release? That’s a rare milestone achieved by few.

Writer/director/producer Nicholaus Goossen (Grandma's Boy, The Shortcut) has just joined that coveted group with his latest feature, Drugstore June.

The Drugstore June synopsis reads: After the pharmacy in her small town is robbed, June (Esther Povitsky), who still lives at home with her parents (Beverly D’Angelo and James Remar) takes matters into her own hands to solve the crime, while at the same time trying to get over her ex-boyfriend (Haley Joel Osment) and grow up a little.

Through the filmmaking process there are many lessons to be learned and challenges to overcome. On Drugstore June Nicholaus explains, “The biggest lessons for me were economical. The cost of shooting an independent film in Los Angeles. I think I know what EVERYTHING costs now, down to the popcorn for a premiere (which we couldn’t afford to purchase!)”.

For cinematographer Sherri Kauk (Angel City, The Inspectors), “One of the challenges Nic and I discussed early on is how to approach the six car scenes. We are an indie film on a budget and with a limited number of exterior scenes. The car scenes were an opportunity to world-build around June’s interior landscape”.

Drugstore June colorist Alastor Arnold (Fantasy Island, Happy Death Day 2U) adds, “When working with filmmakers for the first time, I find the initial day is best spent experimenting with approach, learning individual sensibilities, and how to best communicate the language of color”.

Nicholaus, Sherri and Alastor go more in depth about their creative processes on Drugstore June in the below Q&A.

Drugstore June - Official Trailer | Coming Soonwww.youtube.com

No Film School:You both wrote and directed Drugstore June. Where did the idea for the script stem from?

Nicholaus Goossen: Esther and I met back in 2012 and became fast friends, and soon after we began working together on a lot of projects over at Comedy Central, alongside Drugstore June producer Jordan Ellner. After being a supporting act in a bunch of things, we decided to create something where she was the lead. That started the process of writing the beginnings of what became the film—she works at a pharmacy, Bobby Lee is the pharmacist, Brandon Wardell is her brother, and the pharmacy will be robbed. The goal was to create the perfect Esther vehicle, that we could shoot for the right price.

NFS: What was the biggest challenge you had with making Drugstore June? How did you overcome it?

Nicholaus Goossen: As you know, there are innumerable challenges to making a feature film. Perseverance is key. Even if you’ve had a modicum of success in Hollywood, chances are you will still have to wade through a sea of “NO” before you reach the shores of “YES”. As an indie film, it seems those challenges are amplified, as you don’t have any money to throw at the problems that arise. If you had to boil it down to just a couple of things: time & money. That’s what you’re always fighting. Sure, there were some issues creatively, but that usually paled in comparison to the ticking clock always over your shoulder.

NFS: Did you learn anything new about filmmaking during the production of Drugstore June?

Nicholaus Goossen: I surely did. The biggest lessons for me were economical. The cost of shooting an independent film in Los Angeles. I think I know what everything costs now, down to the popcorn for a premiere (which we couldn’t afford to purchase!) The highest paid person on the entire production was a lawyer. How sad is that?!

'Drugstore June' behind the scenes Shout Studios

NFS: Sherri, what led you to become a cinematographer?

Sherri Kauk:Cinematography is my Passport to the world. A world showing our common humanity lived out in endless possibilities.

NFS: You won an Emmy Award for Lighting Design for CBS' The Inspectors. Can you talk about your experience on that show? Why do you think your work stood out so much on that project?

Sherri Kauk: The Inspector’s came about through a recommendation from a DP friend of mine—I was once his 2nd AC. Job opportunities through other DP recommendations is a critical way to sustain a career trajectory, step into bigger shoes to fill, and to support a colleague who is no longer able to film a project.

The show is a TV series, and we shot each episode in about six days. That’s insane. But what [shooting a TV] series offers is the chance to dive deep into craft.

On The Inspectors Season 4, I pushed for book lights using ultra bounce, 1/4 grid and 1/2 soft frost. Beginning Season 5 we moved to lighting directly through heavier cloth-based diffusions such as bleached and unbleached muslin. Regarding being able to test and work through the ‘grip rags’ arsenal for shooting TV, I just wrap DP’ing episode 613 and 2nd Unit DP’ing on The Chi for the main Cinematographer, Christian Herrera. Key Grip Ryan Nelson and Gaffer Jeremy Graham prefer booklighting with Fillix Q10’s and Nanlux 2.5’s through a series of Hampshire, Hollywood Frost and 251.

I had a fascinating conversation with Ryan, and then a in-the-hot-seat study in the slightest but preferred differences, for example, in Hollywood Frost versus Soft Frost. This level of specificity per project is what creates a show’s unique look and what gives film lighting its quality and expression.

Back to Inspectors, the episode that earned my Emmy win, started with an ambitious script—a hurricane barreling through town endangers the lives of our guest star. Our protagonist hero musters courage and ingenuity to save her—and himself.

This scripting sets the production designer and I up for some direct conversations about what is possible to build practically and what needs to be augmented via effects. I think what stood out on that set was the combination of a realistic storm-exterior set created on the stage with wind machines, lighting strikes and 12x12 book lights coming together to create the dark atmospheric cloud-cover feeling mid-hurricane storm. In one particular scene, our hero races across a back yard then down into a storm cellar where the power is out. This movement within the environmental mayhem creates the out of control feeling that the characters are experiencing. The movement of camera and big environmental affect created a visual experience unique to daytime t.v. in the educational space at that time.

'Drugstore June' poster Shout Studios

NFS: If someone were to watch all of the movies you have worked on, would they see any similarities?

Sherri Kauk: What a fun question! Something for me to contemplate further. But: I buy into the main character’s plight. My lens in ‘in their shoes’ as close to their experience as possible. In some ways, my imagery is humble, an offering of an experience as opposed to an absolute knowledge and certainty about an experience. My camera tends to follow, as opposed to lead.

I think too, you will see progression. A diligent refinement and ability to create a moment experienced.

NFS: How did you first get connected with director Nicholaus Goossen on Drugstore June?

Sherri Kauk: Again, a fellow cinematographer recommended me after needing to back out due to a schedule conflict. The call came in just as I was wrapping up HBO’s Angel City. One of my skillsets is being able to move between formats without a bump—in this case from a documentary-series to scripted comedy feature. I followed up the initial email from Line Producer Conor Bailey with several questions before confirming my interview with him, additional producers and Director Nic Goosen. I asked if the key-creatives behind this project had a look book, a music list or other sources of inspiration that communicates the “why now” and “what about” Drugstore June makes this the film wanting to be made, now. I was seeking to get to the ‘creative core’ of this project.

This ask has become a key part of my pre-interview process. Conor shared Esther Povistsky’s comedy special that Drugstore June is loosely based on, the producer’s pitch deck, and the director’s look book which included Nic’s shot deck link. Being fast-tracked into the visual world, into the cast likely staring in the film and the producing team helps me get into the headspace and find a point of view that is in alignment with the film. Remember - I had just been filming a sports doc! Being able to pivot into what has become a hilarious adventure comedy is a pivot I can only make quickly with all of this “why and what” information. And, too, with a week of beginning prep with Nic, he shared his Drugstore June playlist and that put us all right in the middle of June-World.

NFS: Can you talk about the look of Drugstore June?

Sherri Kauk:Drugstore June is Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with all the woke, millennial, modern twists. It’s a filmmakers film shot in L.A. with L.A. vibes and with Panavision E Series Anamorphic glass—lenses that have filmed countless classic Hollywood narrative feature films. We filmed in ‘studio mode’ with only one scene of handheld and filmed the majority of the feature single camera. These choices created a film of defined, strong framing, intentional movement and coverage and camera placement closer to talent and closer to the line of action because I was not accommodating two angles of filming at the same time. It’s poppy, but with contrast. The 2.39 framing allowed us to block scenes in planes and layers.

Drugstore June is classic Hollywood coming-of-age storytelling.

NFS: What was the most challenging thing about the Drugstore June shoot?

Sherri Kauk: One of the challenges Nic and I discussed early on is how to approach the six car scenes. We are an indie film on a budget and with a limited number of exterior scenes. The car scenes were an opportunity to world-build around June’s interior landscape.

The opening sequence was a tripod lock off into a hostess-tray-style setup at sunset. The commitment of the “hostess-tray” opening to one profile shot with jump cuts progressing June’s drive through the drive through, sets up the tone, the comedy, the main character and the studio-style classic film look.

The second scene we filmed in “mom’s minivan” using French over. This was one of our two-camera days and in this sequence both cameras were strapped down in the back on baby legs and cross shot simultaneously. The third and fourth scene with the entire family we used a process trailer. And the final car sequence with the bronco was car-to-car. Our A camera was attached off the back of one of our producer’s Jeep Wrangler via a black arm and ronin, and off we went down San Fernando Blvd (with police escorts). I operated from wheels in the backseat of the Jeep.

Being able to achieve dynamic, world building coverage of these six car scenes added a lot of expression and value to our indie film.

'Drugstore June' behind the scenes Shout Studios

NFS: Did you do anything outside of the box for Drugstore June? Or at least outside of the box for you?

Sherri Kauk: I think committing to filming a “classic” single camera on-studio dolly with particular anamorphic lenses on the Arri Mini LF is out of the box for indie filmmaking! Shooting handheld with two cameras for run of show “to make our day” and “add energy to the frame” was never a consideration, for example.

Pushing for a full-but-lean, separate lighting and grip team, again, I think is “outside of the box” for indie filmmaking. There was pressure to combine the GE, but ultimately, having the support and expertise of each department allowed us to make our days and make a film’s film. All of these decisions show up on the screen. It is part of what is making Drugstore June standout and give respect and confidence to the stars that also—unique to indie filmmaking—said yes to this film. Said yes to its filmmakers and showed up. All of this is a craft, taste, respect and celebration component of Drugstore June that is unique. It is also wildly funny. That’s cool too.

NFS: What are your ultimate goals for the films you make?

Sherri Kauk: To be the storyteller that tells a story that sticks—as Lena Waithe says—to your ribs. A story that you can’t get out of you once you’ve experienced it. That pops up into your mind randomly as you go about your days, taking over your thought and your emotions; one that warps you back and forth between the memory of the film and your realty.

NFS: What are you working on next?

Sherri Kauk: I am currently mid-season on a Hulu original series. Still hush-hush! Between this shoot, breaking in to The Chi and the series scripts I am reading, I am just trying to make it back to Hollywood in time to see Drugstore June in theaters! What comes next will come in time. I am grateful that, over the course of my career, my cell phone seems to rings every time, just in time.

'Drugstore June'Shout Studios

NFS: Alastor, what is your process for collaborating with the cinematographer and director to understand their vision?

Alastor Arnold: I didn't get to work with Sherri and Nic during pre-production, so before we started on the grade, I asked to screen the film to familiarize myself with the tone and visual language of the story. When working with filmmakers for the first time, I find the initial day is best spent experimenting with approach, learning individual sensibilities, and how to best communicate the language of color. I believe that everybody sees color differently, and it's critical to spend the time up front to learn how to navigate and communicate what we see and feel with different aesthetic approaches. One thing I really appreciated about working with Nic was that he was very specific about his vision for Drugstore June, how important color was to that vision, all while being open to my input and contribution!

NFS: How would you describe the coloring of Drugstore June? How did you land on this look?

Alastor Arnold: The look of the film is bold and fun; Rich and saturated with strong primary pops, deep burgundy reds, Blues that lean more cyan, all while keeping skin tones naturalistic and grounded. We landed on the look through conversation and experimentation, nothing was emulative or referential. I think the grade we settled on perfectly complements the cinematography, production design, and most importantly the story! Sherri did an amazing job capturing the film and I'm so happy we had the opportunity to jive creatively, it was always fun and rewarding, and I look forward to working with both her and Nic in the future!

You can learn more about Drugstore June at https://www.drugstorejune.com/.