Although I was born and raised in London, UK, my mother is from Wisconsin, USA so as a child I would spend summers in the States seeing family. With fond memories of playing on my family’s Wisconsin dairy farm, I always felt like an outsider through my inability, even as a child, to do the things my farm-raised cousin could.
As an adult revisiting the farm I found the chores performed incredibly hypnotic and calming to watch. Farms are a place of tremendous upheaval and mechanical power, but also of baseness, of simplistic physical duty.
Farms are so little understood by the urban dweller, of which our society is becoming increasingly dominated by. By, in essence, sending my protagonist to a farm to cleanse him, I want to show an American Dream story of social movement and rejection of his past transgresses through physical hard work in this new and alien environment.
The outsider element at the core of the film is race. I find perception and discrimination due to race fascinating. Clearly the United States still has a problem with race relations in many parts of the country, and whilst I cannot try and tackle everything in this film, I certainly wish to pose some poignant social questions.
Should our past actions allow for prejudice against us? Can we expect to be absolved of all blame simply because we have served our punishment? Is a small, largely ignorant micro-society incapable of change? Can people prove to others who are preprogramed against them that their views are misguided?
I’m very much drawn to rite of passage stories as I find tremendous drama in looking through a microscope at an individual’s life at certain stages of change and being confronted by unique challenges.
In this film I wish to take my certainly less-than-perfect protagonist and make his battle the audience’s battle.
There are few scenes in the film where we are not with Bryon. When I see the film I do so in images of Byron’s face in the various and escalating stages of challenge he is encountering. The key to this film and my duty to its audience is to show the series of events in the story candidly and to make the audience reflect on Byron’s trials, hopefully engaging them with his internal compass.