01 Oct Q&A WITH PJ RAVAL, DIRECTOR OF LEAD ROLE: FATHER
MICHAEL CHEN: PJ, YOUR FILM SEEMED VERY INTIMATE AND PERSONAL. HOW MUCH OF IT WAS BASED ON THE RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR FATHER?
PJ RAVAL: I’d say it’s based more on the emotions surrounding our relationship rather Than actual events. Initially I knew I wanted to make a lm based on my relationship with my father though I didn’t know what it was going to be about—so I decided to make a lm about that in certain ways. Halfway through writing my script I got a phone call from my father asking me to visit. That visit heavily influenced the making of the film.
CHEN: HAS YOUR FATHER AND THE REST OF YOUR FAMILY SEEN THE FILM? HOW DID THEY REACT?
RAVAL: Yes, my family has seen it. They reacted well, though I honestly didn’t know what to expect. In the past I’d always been more private with them when it came to my work, so I think they were more moved by the fact that I was trying to share something personal with them.
CHEN: HOW’S YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR FATHER TODAY?
RAVAL: Great. We definitely see more eye to eye these days. I think part of it is we’ve grown together and are more willing to break from our past parent-child relationship and enter a father-son relationship on more of an equal footing.It’s more about present and future and not about the hang-ups in the past. Plus, he can’t ground me anymore.
CHEN: THE END OF THE FILM WAS A STUNNER. DID IT AT ALL RESEMBLE YOUR OWN COMING OUT?
RAVAL: No! I don’t think I could ever find a way to actually push my father; it’s the whole familial piety thing you know? It makes me uneasy just to think about it! But these are the reasons why I chose that exact ending. I wanted something really extreme and revealing just to play with those notions.
CHEN: YOU’VE GOT MAJOR ROOTS IN SAN DIEGO. DO TELL! AND WHY THE HECK WOULD YOU END UP IN TEXAS???
RAVAL: I originally moved to San Diego to attend UCSD for my undergraduate studies.Crazy as it sounds I was a double major in visual arts and biology. At the time my work was much more focused on photography and media installation. After graduating I hung around San Diego working odd jobs here and there (read: climbing an 80-foot tower to videotape horse racing or dressing up as an alien for an “X-les” promo spot, etc.) while continuing to explore photography. Eventually I decided to apply to graduate school and thought film would be an interesting medium to explore since I had made a couple black and white experimental narratives and really liked the process. Several friends suggested I apply to University of Texas Austin. There was
something about a strong liberal independent arts community thriving in the center of the lone star state that really intrigued and inspired me. Still does.