Why So Serious?

So far, my films really are downers. With the exception of Harshest Critic, they exhibit no hope and none of the characters overcome anything; in fact, most are overcome by their circumstances. I find that to be more interesting and realistic than the notion of the Hollywood ending.

I find the harsh realities much more fulfilling than the 'guy gets the girl and everything is awesome' conclusion; that's pure entertainment. And yes, you could argue I chose the industry of entertainment; still, for my money, I put it on the sad, the depressing. Because that's life; that's real.

I harp on Love Liza a lot because it's my favorite film for more than a few reasons. It's heartfelt, it feels real, and it's painful to imagine enduring such a loss. And that's my goal for filmmaking; if I can make a film as complete, as feeling, and as beautiful as Love Liza, I will have achieved what I want as an 'artistic' filmmaker.

There's a balance though. Love Liza doesn't end tragically but it certainly doesn't end happily. It's more of a bittersweet conclusion or ending with a cleansing and a start of a new beginning which we don't get to explore as the film ends.

It leaves you hanging but it doesn't leave you without hope; in fact, it opens up the ending for your interpretation. Maybe he killed himself right after that. Or maybe he did finally find some peace, met a new girl after some time, and tries to start over. It leaves the viewer, to use their own experiences, positive or negative, to decide what happens next in the character's life as the credits are rolling.

Some people hate that. In fact, most people do; that's why our Hollywood pictures are wrapped up neat and tight, and formulaic.

I prefer something else. Something like Jack Goes Boating [yes, I like Philip Seymour Hoffman quite a bit] which wraps up one character happily in the end but leaves another's life in tatters. No real antagonists, no bad guys; just people, making it through life. Figuring it out as they go.

Stories like that have meaning, they're more than just relaying a tale that feels like everyday life; they also have subtext like life outcomes being intertwined, one action directly affecting another in unseen ways.

When I attempt films like that, surely they are shallow in conclusion and lacking the deep subtext but that's all part of the goal I'm trying to reach.