Filmmaker Spotlight: Interview with Writer/Director Pornsak Pichetshote
Name/Position: Pornsak Pichetshote, Writer / Director
Film: A Conversation about Cheating with my Time-Traveling Future Self
Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you’ve been working on it.
A year sounds about right, although it’s hard to track exactly how long, since the idea was something I was playing with for a while. I always liked the idea of a genre film where you stripped away all the tropes until all you had left was a new lens through which to explore characters and relationships. Around that same time, I discovered that a very good friend was cheating on his girlfriend around the same time another very good friend was being cheated on by her husband. Being able to talk to both sides of the equation, I was surprised by how similar their experiences were, and that for both of them, how little it had to do with the cheater’s relationship with their significant other. Instead, it had to do with the cheater’s relationship with their own life: Specifically, their expectations for what they had expected to accomplish at this point in their lives and the lies they were telling themselves at why they couldn’t do it. All those ideas eventually fused together to make A Conversation about Cheating with my Time-Traveling Future Self.
Is there anyone you'd like to thank for helping out with this film?
When working on a low-budget film, I feel like everyone on the credits deserves to be singled out for thanks, because if you put the right cast and crew together—and I really did—you’re getting extraordinarily talented people and either not paying them anything of what they’re worth, or not paying them at all. If I had to single any two people out, though, it’d have to be my lead actor Bobby Campo for putting up with my incessant (and I’m sure annoying) perfectionism, and my cinematographer Michael Marius Pessah for being just as much of a perfectionist as I am. Both of them gave above and beyond amidst a crew that distinguished themselves for going above and beyond, and I consider them both my closest friends.
How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers Screening at Sunset Gower Studios?
It’s an honor. And just more than anything, inspiring. The Sunset Gower Studios are a huge part of filmmaking and TV history, so it’s humbling to have anything I’ve done mentioned in the same sentence as that, and while I’m still relatively new to LA, I was a constant frequenter of the Anthology Film Archives and programs run by NewFillmakers there, so it’s wonderful to be part of it here.
What inspires you?
Considering the time I’m writing this, the fact that we just walked out of an Election Day where we now have twenty women in the Senate, six openly gay people in Congress, a bi-sexual Congresswoman (in Arizona of all places), marijuana legalized in Colorado and Washington, an election where Florida proved irrelevant to the election, and the realization that a President can win the election, while losing the white vote. It’s all just the best kind of amazing.
Who are your influences and who do you admire?
There was a whole movement of American dialogue-driven films that would eventually culminate in the Spike, Mike, Slackers and Dykes era of 1990s independent film that was a huge influence on me. So while I know not all these names fall under that category (and some might seem glaringly incongruous additions), in my eyes, the lineage that hugely influenced me included: John Sayles, Spike Lee, Hal Hartley, Whit Stillman, Richard Linklater, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, and I’m sure a lot more I’m forgetting. Thrown into that mix are also Woody Allen, Aaron Sorkin, David Mamet, Darren Aronofsky, and Jean-Luc Godard.
What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?
More than anything else, that the ground is constantly shifting which means that everyone is making it up as they go. Surviving seems to mean finding your own personal balance of “faking it til you make it” and actual human sincerity. Everyone has their own personal mix, and when you find people whose character make-up matches your own, that’s the community you should treasure.
If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?
I would love to one day sit in the same room as Aaron Sorkin and watch how he works.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?
It’s not advice that was given to me personally, but there was a quote from Harlan Ellison that was a major influence to me as a writer that still rings true and constant whenever I do anything, be it writing or directing: “Don’t be afraid. That simple; don’t let them scare you. There’s nothing they can do to you… a writer always writes. That’s what he’s for… But the first time you say “Oh, Christ, they’ll kill me!” then you’re done. Because the chief commodity a writer has to sell is his courage.”
What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?
It’s probably a mixture of that Harlan Ellison quote and finding the balance of “faking it til you make it” and actual human sincerity that I mentioned earlier.
Where can we expect to see you next?
I’ve been concentrating on writing lately, and I’m really excited about a feature horror script I’ve just finished called “Infidel,” a post-9-11 haunted house story.
Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects.
People can find out more about the film through facebook.com/AConversationAboutCheating, which is a great place to also find info about any of my future projects or to get in touch with me.
For more information, visit: http://www.newfilmmakersla.com/
About the Author
Formerly an editor at Demand Media, writer at Citysearch, The Examiner, LA Youth Newspaper and proofreader at The Los Angeles Daily News, Christy Buena decided to start Disarray Magazine because she missed writing what she wanted. From hiring writers, to contacting publicists and making assignments, Christy is responsible for the editorial strategy of Disarray Magazine. Get to know the team of talented contributors.
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