Editor’s note: CultureMap has partnered with the Lone Star Film Festival to publish a series of filmmaker interviews conducted by LSFF organizers.
Paul Harrill’s second feature, Something, Anything, screens at the 2014 Lone Star Film Festival on Saturday, November 8, at AMC Palace 9. In the film, a young Southern woman searches for meaning after tragedy shatters her well-laid plans.
Harrill spoke with the LSFF organizers about writing a female lead and his evolution as a filmmaker, among other things.
Lone Star Film Festival: Are there any films you can specifically reference that inspired you to make the film?
Paul Harrill: My own films are usually inspired by things I see in the world around me, or things that have happened to me, friends or family members. But as I developed the script, I found myself sometimes thinking of films like Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows and Leo McCarey’s Love Affair — classic Hollywood romances with a spiritual undercurrent.
LSFF: Can you describe the writing process?
PH: I started Something, Anything knowing only a couple of things: that it was about a newlywed woman in the South and that a character in the film was a former monk. Writing the script was a long, painful and ultimately rewarding process of asking and answering questions about these characters.
LSFF: Did you “research” the female perspective and if so, in what way?
PH: That’s a good question. Women have really responded to the film, and they’re sometimes surprised that a man wrote and directed it. But, other than for one scene early in the film related to Margaret’s pregnancy, I didn’t do any special research to help give me a “woman’s perspective.”
I relate to Margaret’s search for meaning and her longing for connection, and there have been a number of important women in my life — family members, friends, teachers, co-workers — so I just trusted that if I wrote what was emotionally honest and based in things I’ve seen, that it would be convincing.
And then I was fortunate to have two great collaborators in Ashley Maynor, the film’s producer, and Ashley Shelton, who plays Margaret. I was always listening to their perspective to keep things honest.
LSFF: Can you talk about your evolution as a filmmaker since winning Best Short at Sundance in 2001 (and perhaps including your 2008 film Quick Feet, Soft Hands that played at the LSFF)?
PH: The two short films you mention were ironic or even a little cynical. But Something, Anything is probably the most hopeful film I’ve made. I think of that as evolution.
The 2014 Lone Star Film Festival runs through November 9 in Sundance Square in Fort Worth. For more information, visit the festival website.