OK, so my parents were married in 1955 and my mom knew my dad was gay and my dad knew he was gay and so I was, like, 'Why in the heck did you get married?' Like, what was going on? What was that time? It's like this crazy paradox that my whole life is based on, or my family's based on. So I spent a lot of time trying to understand '55.
You have this 18-year old who is trying to figure out his life. But you also have these 40-year-olds who are trying to figure out their lives, and this whole myth of, 'Once I have a family, a house, a husband, this hole I felt will be filled up and I'll be OK,' ... At 40 they're, 'Wait a minute, it's not all OK, I still have all those problems. What do I do now?' And I'm really happy to have both of those problems and both of those ages in the same story.
If you ask me, the place that a story happens is as equal character. It's almost like an ecological viewpoint: These people are living in this piece of land, and in this piece of land in this time this is possible. For me, I almost think location first. It's time first - what year is it - then where are we, and then who is in it.
My experience, with both my parents, is that grief has a lot of down, sad things, but I was also really emotionally raw, in the first year after each of them passed. Flowers smelled more intensely, my relationships were hotter, and I was more willing to risk. I was going for it a lot more. I was 'unsober' and I wasn't playing by my rules.
I would hate to think I'm promoting sadness as an aesthetic. But I grew up in not just a family but a town and a culture where sadness is something you're taught to feel shame about. You end up chronically desiring what can be a very sentimental idea of love and connection. A lot of my work has been about trying to make a space for sadness.
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People ask 'How does doing a film compare to doing an ad?' Well, when you're doing a commercial you don't have to sell tickets. You have a captured audience. Which is actually completely rare and great; it gives you a lot of freedom. When you make a film, you have to do advertisements for the film.