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5Q – A Short Interview About THE GLASS SLIPPER

The following was originally published on CQCentral.com.

1Q: Tell us a little about the origins of THE GLASS SLIPPER, from concept to financing.

In college I read a Flaubert novella called Un Cœur Simple (A Simple Heart in English), and was quite taken with the austerity of both the central character and the narrative style. Flaubert’s Felicity is a kind of pious naïf who fails at every turn to take charge of the trajectory of her own life; she eventually slides into the deepest depths of penury–and then death–because she trusts that the “Holy Spirit” (whom she confuses with a stuffed parrot) will save her. It’s a rather fatalistic story, and it lacks the typical character arc of almost all Western literature. She doesn’t change; she doesn’t learn (which is not at all to say that the reader can’t learn from her mistakes). I think most of us end up living a similar kind of life in one way or another, and that the standard structure of our narratives might therefore have a certain willful falseness at its core.

I’ve wanted to adapt the novella into a film for about seven years, and The Glass Slipper is the end result of that. Mind you, my film is almost nothing like the novella- there’s a character called Felicity, and I’ve certainly taken some cues from Flaubert in creating her, but there’s much going on in my film that’s completely unrelated to the ostensible “source material.” A large part of the film deals with another character who fails also to improve his lot, and we watch his family crumble while he flounders around. This thread is entirely mine.

Though we’ve recently, through more traditional channels, secured additional funding with which to finish the film, the lion’s share of the actual production phase was funded via a Kickstarter campaign. I’ve found it to be not only a great source of funding, but also an incredible way to build a community around the film from day one. 

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Postcard (mock-up)


From the Cinequest 21 Program Guide.


Directing Vahe and Bob, final day of shooting.

Watch on Posterous

Mobile direction.

Watch on Posterous

Maybe my 3rd feature is a documentary.

I want to shake up my entire process when the time comes to produce my third narrative feature: I want a (slightly) bigger crew, and I want a (slightly) less frenetic style. I want to maintain some of the comic (?) voice I’ve developed over the last two films, but I want to tone down the pitch of the laughter as much as possible while still claiming to have made a comedy. Laughter is most commonly an incredibly sick pleasure, and the cliché regarding the efficacy of its service as medicine demonstrates the probable certainty of schadenfreude‘s primacy within the nexus of my (and your) instinctive “lizard” brain. A filmmaker ought to be a kind of cultural doctor, constantly experimenting with diverse procedures, with the goal of easing the disgusting pain of our general existence. The inducement of laughter (even if of the uneasy sort) might be one way in which to do that. And if the preceding remarks sound like a clinical and/or scientific distillation of the ultimate sentiment found in Sullivan’s Travels, then I have explained myself well, and can only hope that my films will read as the kind of thing that a student of Cautious Optimism might request on Interlibrary Loan from some more pragmatically oriented, fictional Earth.

If my driving instinct in filmmaking is to start with comedy and then to turn as many points-of-chuckle as possible into points-of-empathy, and if I have already assembled thirty-seven minutes of documentary footage in which empathy is instant for anyone still capable of self-questioning, why not flesh out those 37 minutes? If I frame my project as a thing analogous to the project of a doctor, isn’t there a bitingly obvious confluence if I treat, filmically, a medical subject?

I’ve made two short documentaries about breast cancer–more specifically, about the desire to refrain, after mastectomy, from having fake goo attached to one’s body. Maybe I ought to combine those two shorts, and add more material. While I write a third narrative.

Maybe that’s what I’ll do.

The action shots of me as producer are far less exciting than those of me as director.


A Few Quick Words On Respecting You

You might consider this to be my “Director’s statement.” Let me start with the simple hope that you might consider it.

The Glass Slipper will not titillate you. I showed Hell Is Other People to a festival programmer whose tastes, judgments, and feedback I respect, despite how what follows might sound. He felt disappointed not to have seen crusty cocks, because crusty cocks were mentioned in the dialogue. I refrained from showing you crusty cocks because the dialogue and situations were smarter than an image of a crusty cock. Picture your own crusty cock. If I picture the crusty cock for you, I’m making porn. And then what are you doing? There was no more need to see a crusty cock in that film than there was need to see a Jew’s guts in Shoah.

I tell stories. Stories without cynical hooks. If I needed to “buy” your viewership, these days, I admit, it would take more than titties or crusty cocks. I’d need Paris Hilton boinking Kim Kardashian with a metal dildo while dancing the tango with Gary Coleman’s corpse atop a masturbating Kanye. And that might, if anything, get me on ABC at 10:30.

I’m going to be a grown-up, no matter how unfashionable that might be. And I expect you to be a grown-up, no matter how unfashionable a respect for your intelligence might be.

You see, people go through things. Hard things. Nuanced things. We are idiots, but we’re also savants. 

I like you, and that’s why there are no crusty cocks in my films.

Dropping the final clip into place, THE GLASS SLIPPER.