There’s something about the seemingly simple stories that stay with us longest. There is majesty in the familiar and just enough room for an emotional expression of big ideas. Ideas so big, so universally known and felt, that when experienced through narrative, inspire us to look within, to take moral inventory of ourselves. The majesty of a familiar story is that its power seems effortless.
Yet it’s indeed the opposite: its strength is its modesty. I dare say the greatest films of all time are in fact so very simple. But I’d be overstating my position and understating my admiration. They are careful constructions of moments that are perfectly relatable, however positioned in an order in which they become perfectly inevitable.
Troublesome Creek is a story that unfolds in a small town that can happen to anyone, anytime, and anywhere; universal in the sense that it appeals to basic human behavior and instinct; the desire to protect one’s own above all else.
The drama of this film uniquely expresses the politics shaping this community. Appalachia has been caught up in generations of poverty, and its people have given up. Years of welfare programs combined with job scarcity, the closure of the coal mines, and the overprescription of opioids have ensnared them in the “White Poverty” exploited by our national politicians.
In a world where morals have no currency for those in power, is Jerry Somerset’s righteous path enough to make a difference? What is a moral victory?
EVERYTHING IS IN SUPPORT OF THE ACTORS; developing performances with nuance and studied human expression, discovering the physicality of the scene within the space of the location followed by the space of the screen. The tension growing as we watch our hero pitted against the pressures of community and family.
In my approach, these universal themes will find expression through specificity and detail. I plan on continually reminding the audience of the outside world. When Jerry listens to the radio, or a TV plays in the background, it may be playing the news; larger events that influence the corruption Jerry is already fighting in his small community.
It’s a classic tale that we’ve seen before, where the trouble facing our protagonist and the choices he makes, big and small, come to define our hero’s future.
I’m a visual director, one in constant communication between the elements of sound and space on the screen.
COMPOSITIONS are wide, formal studies of the secret crevices of a community struggling with generations of poverty and loss of hope. Consider a visual expression of the American Dream in decay. It’s painterly and serious and inviting and a little sad; the definition of nostalgia.
TIME and TONE will be my allies in expressing the emotional through-lines of this criminal drama. Because it is about an investigation and because it is about identifying with a personal struggle of a character as it develops and changes over time.
TIME will be carefully treated at all stages, script, camera, and editorial. Even the visual space of a shot will be treated in terms of time (i.e. the time it takes for a character to walk across a wide shot.) The inner workings of our character’s thoughts will find expression in the careful use of time, much like the motifs essential to the success of modern Westerns. So much of the unsaid or the unseen as it lingers on screen, is just as influential as the split second of a gunshot.
The TONE will be thus stylized, and seemingly effortless and natural as the narrative itself; a classic rigor will be employed to enhance the material.
Interiors of the houses will seem cramped, with walls cutting into the frame and characters coming in and out of sight; a visual correlative for the idea of people cut off from one another.
Troublesome Creek leads us to a tragic ending, full of irony and regret for what could have been, maintaining an active inner struggle in combination with the practical suspense of a criminal investigation.