Mitchell, Stan, and Dixon navigate the purgatory between youth and adulthood when they reunite a few years after high school for the funeral of their friend Bender. Hijinks, heartbreak, and beer-fueled bonhomie drive Matt Oates' sweet coming-of-age tale, which illuminates the importance of looking back while simultaneously looking ahead. On the precipice of grown-up responsibility, party animal Dixon (Josh Cooke) self-destructs too often, insecure Stan (Eddie Kaye Thomas) tries to attain the unattainable, and successful Mitchell (Kip Pardue) wrestles with commitment and expectation. Being in their early 20s does not guarantee a vacation from reality, even in the loving arms of their small town, and they all try to reject the notion that their path has chosen them as they lurch into the great beyond known as maturity. Meanwhile, the deceased Bender seems to have it easy: no worries, no expectations, and no future to screw up. Before Mitchell, Stan, and Dixon say goodbye to their pal, they will ponder the meaning of his life and theirs. Oates' debut feature takes place in familiar hangouts like the burger joint and the bowling alley, but Farewell Bender shows that no place is a haven when one is uncomfortable in one's own skin. While high school is often about fitting in, this twenty-something trio is now faced with the riddle of how to stand out. Oates, who wrote the screenplay with Jeremiah Lowder at a similar juncture in his life, taps into the angst of a generation on the cusp of making its mark. Hunting rabbits while driving drunk is easy. Becoming a man is hard.
Matt Oates directed, produced, and co-wrote Farewell Bender, his debut feature. Born in Sacramento, Matt spent his childhood making video shorts with his father and neighborhood friends. As a teenager, he helped launch his high school's first media program, which encompassed film, television, and theatrical aesthetics. While attending film school at Loyola Marymount University, Matt made a short called The Missing, which screened at various festivals, to positive response. After graduating, Matt directed and wrote another short called Coat Pockets, starring Brad Renfro and The Color Purple's Margaret Avery. Meanwhile, Matt founded Midtown Entertainment, where he has produced shorts and music videos, including the video for "We Don't Work," which was released on the first season DVD of Laguna Beach. Oates resides in Los Angeles and enjoys writing, music.