The majority of the cast have never acted before. Can you guide us through your working process with regards to the cast?
I cast the characters myself with help from my producer and as there were so many to find and they crossed all age ranges, it became very time consuming. Certain characters in the film use drugs and to find people who had experience of this and could bring an honesty and truth to those characters took the longest to find and were the most complicated in terms of insurance issues. I look for people from a photographic and experience viewpoint. You have to be interested in photographing them first, then their experiences give you a basis from which you can direct them, using what you know they have been through to provoke and help them. Then you try to use the camera like a microscope. Hopefully you record their unique qualities, and find a balance between the written character and who they are themselves. Some I rehearsed with, others I didn’t, it all depended on the context of the scene and what seemed right. There was never any improvisation and it was the editing and photography, which dictated how the scene was finalised. Documentary exists in that I have to take what they give, sometimes after provocation, and use it to complete the stories. Sometimes this means the story has to be modified in the edit, which is part of the reason why you challenge yourself to work with non-actors. To change and move past the written script.
While the characters seem to be able to communicate to each other as friends about their relationships, there seems to be no one in the film who is able to directly communicate to their partner. Why do you think this is? Is this a particular view you have of human relationships?
I think the couples in the film communicate as inarticulately with their friends and relations as they do with their partners. It is just that you are expected to be able to communicate better with your partner than with peers. This expectation is complicated by the fact that within a romantic relationship the politics are always so much deeper. The hurt caused by minor slights or indiscretions can be so wounding that the wish to communicate your hurt is sometimes done in the most ignorant and counter productive manner. This is someone that you feel safe with and that you want to love and sometimes we exploit and take advantage of that. Essentially, I was interested in describing the individuals’ need for security and safety, their basic need for emotional stability and happiness; all the things we associate with companionship. I approached this through the themes of formative love, the resulting search for lasting relationships, and its consequences on someone nearing the end of their life. Many of these themes will be familiar to audiences, but I believe mainly within an urban setting, and in relation to drug use, normally within a socio-political context. My intention is to use these themes within a new environment to explore the actions of separate generations in the pursuit of happiness, the success and failure of love; and the use of artificial substitutes to the same ends. Life, love, loss and intoxication.