“ANYWHERE, U.S.A.” co-writer-director, Chusy (Anthony Haney-Jardine)
The question isn’t fair as it relates to my production. I don’t wish I had 10 percent more of anything. I deliberately set out to make a film without expectations. Expectations are what thwarted any creative impulse I’d had in the past. Instead I relied on whatever I found before me. It is no accident that our production company’s name is Found Films.
From the get-go we knew we had severe limitations: intellectual, financial, technological and with regards to professional talent; so instead, we embraced those limitations, almost with glee. No interchangeable lenses? No problem. Let’s embrace the aesthetic and create a visual vocabulary that plays to the prosumer HD camera’s strengths and weaknesses. Our nonprofessional actor didn’t show up today ’cause his boss threatened to fire him from his job at the fast-food restaurant? I guess we’re rewriting the story. And so on. Whatever came our way was okay. Our cast and crew often heard me say, “It’s okay, everyone, we are like water.” The central metaphor for the making of the film was water. We knew eventually that water would find its way and empty into a big ocean.
To deal with no expectations, we designed a film created in situ. In other words we planned for scenarios, but because our cast was, for the most part, people we’d plucked from the streets (sometimes the night before shooting) we thought it was incongruous to try to ram anything down their throats or give them something a priori that would’ve scared them or created expectations in their own performances. Instead I relied on the miracle of those human beings themselves and we created together, with no rehearsal. That’s not to say that there is improvisation in the performances or that there wasn’t a script. No, I simply had to rely on the pressure and reality of having to shoot something so I put no burden on myself with regards to the outcome and quality of the writing. I simply had to deliver on the spot. There was no alternative and no reason I’d have to dredge up “wouldas” and “couldas,” notions that serve no purpose, at least for me. Not a word is uttered that wasn’t written a priori.
Expectations also were irrelevant for the team. Our crew was comprised almost entirely by first-time filmmakers. Hell, we were happy that we got an image that made sense and that it didn’t sound like crap. So I don’t think any of us wish we had 10 percent more of anything. We’re just glad we’ve got something to show and tickled we got into Sundance.
Hmm… now as I read this I actually wish I had 83 percent less arrogance, and, sometimes, in retrospect (answers are so clear and abundant in retrospect, aren’t they?), I wish I’d listened to my heart with even more candor (perhaps increasing that value by, say, 7 percent).
[PREMIERE SCREENING: Monday, Jan. 21, 2:15 pm — Racquet Club, Park City]