“When I was a kid, I used to think that was Disneyland,” a 30-something man says as he stares at Kensington’s Mormon temple.
No, it isn’t a confused tourist in Montgomery County. It’s a line from the new movie “Lost Holiday,” produced and directed by Chevy Chase natives and brothers Michael and Thomas Matthews.
The brothers have video in their genes. They are the sons of TV talk show host Chris Matthews and TV anchor-turned Democratic political figure Kathleen Matthews.
Thomas Matthews’ acting experience includes a role on the HBO series “The Newsroom” from 2012 to 2014. Another star from that show, Emily Mortimer, makes a cameo appearance in “Lost Holiday” by providing the voiceover of a news radio broadcast.
Thomas has also acted in five other productions and has one other directing credit, according to IMDB.com.
Michael Matthews’ experience includes producing the 2013 film “Newlyweeds” and an associate producer role on the 2010 film “Below the Beltway,” a fictional film about the Washington political scene.
“Lost Holiday,” which was released last year, follows the lives of Maggie (Kate Lyn Sheil) and Henry (Thomas Matthews), who live in New York, as they return home to reunite with high school friends in the Washington, D.C., area during the Christmas holidays.
The 1 hour, 18-minute film tells the story of friends trying to solve a local kidnapping case while simultaneously reconciling their past lives with their present ones, and doing it while intoxicated on various substances.
Much of the film was shot in Bethesda, Chevy Chase and other parts of southern Montgomery County. Local residents will recognize landmarks such as the Mormon temple, the pre-fire Hank Dietle’s Tavern in North Bethesda and signs for various exits on the Beltway in the Maryland suburbs.
Thomas Matthews said the film will screen at a couple of other festivals in Europe. In the United States, it can be seen on Amazon Prime. It is not listed as playing in any other theaters.
The Avalon Theatre in Chevy Chase, D.C., screened the film last week and hosted a discussion with the Matthews brothers afterward.
Michael Matthews said they thought of the idea for the movie 10 years ago, drawing on their experience of job shadowing their mother as children.
“We thought it would be funny if a couple of fools stumbled into a story that mom would probably cover on the news,” Michael told the audience.
Kathleen Matthews, formerly an anchor on WJLA, makes a cameo appearance in the movie, reprising her former role as a news anchor as she delivers the news about the kidnapping.
“We love the localness of this film. It’s about relearning home after you’ve left for a while,” Michael said.
In an interview with Bethesda Beat, Michael Matthews said most of the filming took place in the spring of 2017, followed by a year of screening to test audiences and then another year of showing it at film festivals. He said the film was “fairly low budget,” but did not share what the full cost was to produce it.
The Matthews said they received help on the production from a number of businesses, such as the bus company Vamoose Bus and clothing store Tuckernuck.
Michael Matthews said they shot at Hank Dietle’s — one year before the fire — because it was one of the oldest bars in Montgomery County. Other locations, he said, were chosen based on their proximity to the western side of the Metro Red Line that goes through Montgomery County.
“We were focused very much on two or three stops on the [Metro] Red Line, because that was where we grew up and spent time as teenagers, and we wanted to find places that had a history in that area,” he said.
Michael said producing the movie was easy because the film was processed at a local facility in Rockville.
“We were always a 10-minute-drive away,” he said.
For those who aren’t drawn in by the references to Falls Road, or “the one bar in Aspen Hill,” D.C. staples like the U.S. Capitol and the Metro are worked into the film.
“We actually had really cool locations here. You don’t have to go to Brooklyn or Baltimore,” Michael said.
As the Vamoose bus Henry and Maggie are riding on pulls out of the nation’s capital in the final scene, Maggie reminds her friend that they live in New York. Asked during the postfilm discussion about the significance of the scene, Thomas Matthews said it represents how the characters are wrestling with their identities as they make the transition from youth to adulthood.
“These characters are playing with fire the whole time. They’re in a tremendous disillusion. They’re in their 30’s and yet they’re waiting to commence with their lives,” he said.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.firstname.lastname@example.org