I think that films have the ability to overwhelm the senses with a feeling, to use specific details, in as clear and ungarnished a frame as possible, in order to communicate what something felt like. It’s the reason I keep coming back to the movies with an omnivorous hunger and abiding love for all forms of cinema. I grew up in the great American in-between, splitting my time between acres of ruralia and the benign and everyday cruelties of being working class with a single mother. This wasn’t something I had seen in a movie, at least as it had felt to me.
I remember the joy of wandering around the farm in the evening, the symphony of frogs and possums and owls and swallows. I remember the cans upon cans, the gallons of horse shit hauled from here to there, dumped, stirred, turned into gold for our friends’ gardens. I remember peering around corners of my house from a very young age, and seeing my mother crying, head in her hands, staring at bills, trying to make the math work. I grew up, I got a job. She got me an education. I put a roof on our house. We spent the falls scavenging the property for dead trees which we could use for heat in the winter. I would spend a Sunday splitting wood, and the next day go to school with kids complaining about the brand-name of car their parents had bought them. I remember being a kid in this environment and all the orgiastic joy and operatic sorrow that came with it, with being connected to nature, to being connected to one’s parents out of a sense of survival as well as familial pride.
Then, because of that education my mother fought so hard for, I went off to school. I discovered filmmaking - namely, documentary filmmaking, neo-Realism, the New Wave, modern indies and art cinema. Filmmaking which wasn’t interested in stars or rich-people-problems or sci-fi conceits. I found still photographers, journalists, and bodies of work which I never knew existed. I decided that I needed to go home, to exhume these experiences which I had tried so hard to forget about after escaping them. This coincided with meeting incredibly empathetic collaborators, all on their own journeys of quest and return, perhaps the oldest story we have.
No story about my home could be accurately told without some acknowledgement of the opiate crisis. It affects every level of our society and in New England has been especially potent in rural and suburban areas. A member of my family joked once that our family could start its own AA chapter. Like most great jokes it has a lot of truth to it. Beloved family members, friends, and communities I still know and still love are affected by this epidemic daily. This film is for the sober, for the allies, and for those still struggling. It is for the people who refuse to give up on the people they love, who know, often despite all rationale, that empathy and love do not know conditions or limits. I hope that all those who see it know, if nothing else, that they are not alone on this journey.
In short then, my intention with this film is to present in as clear a frame as possible what it’s like to grow up without much, but with just enough, with a single parent, in a region ravaged by addiction. Drawing on the documentary tradition, neorealism, and poetry, I hope that the film (both as a short and hopefully, later, as a feature) evokes these feelings, the feeling of being trapped in the vastness of a farm; the feeling of penetrating and lasting anxiety around drugs and alcohol and their omnipresence, from one’s friends and one’s family to one’s own inner life and self; the feeling of needing to go and search for clarity, and finding that the car has crapped out; the feeling of kicking in your heels, feeling an animal surge beneath you, and hanging on for dear life.