Yahoo! Voices Interview: David Spaltro Talks Things I Don't Understand
New York screenwriter-director David Spaltro is once again showing his intimate relationship with the City that Never Sleeps in his second drama, Things I Don't Understand. A follow-up to his 2010 film ...Around, the film-maker once again touches on personal issues, this time being the questioning of faith and whether the after-life truly exists.Things I Don't Understand follows Violet Kubelick, played by Molly Ryman, a graduate student who's studying near-death experiences, as she's obsessed with dying and the possibility of an after-life.
While promoting Things I Don't Understand, Spaltro was generous enough to discuss the process of filming the movie, including what kind of research he did into the subject of near-death experiences. He also talks about reuniting with Ryman, whom he directed in ...Around. He also touches on why he returned to the project after first starting the script when he was in college, and deciding that he didn't have enough experience at the time to move forward with such a serious topic.
How much knowledge did you have of near-death experiences, and what kind of research did you do into the subject, before you began writing and shooting Things I Don't Understand?
To me, the film always was more about life and living then death and dying. Like most people, I was fascinated by the process of dying, the unknown of what follows and all the different ideas, scientific concepts and religious answers to what happens when you die.
I'd read a bit about near-death-experiences and studies on patients that showed an odd similarity in certain details despite difference in age, gender, race or geographical landscape that intrigued me a bit. Most of the film is a hodgepodge of my own feelings and thoughts from what I've read, experienced and learned. I'd worked in hospice care and have seen people pass on, so it was a chance to work out different feelings and ideas I had on life, death and more important, faith.
Like Violet, viewers are left questioning what happens to our spirits after we die. Was it your intention to leave your audiences questioning their mortality and spirituality, or would you prefer to have them interpret the film's message their own way?
The film is about faith to me, and it was always more important not to try and point the audience in any one direction. Beliefs and spirituality are something that is very personal and private to each individual, and I try to honor and respect all of them in this film.
My own personal take is a little less spiritual and a lot more atheist and humanist that we are given one life to live for whatever reason we make of it. While we come in this world and leave it alone, we're alive now and can share that and good with those around us.
At the end of it, I try to present that there is no right or solid answer and it would be irrelevant anyway. You go with what feels right to you based on your own experiences and knowledge and live your life the best you can, regardless of what happens next. That to me represents faith, not knowing and being okay with it, and finding peace.
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