Mrs. Hecker, my high school English teacher, was a brilliant woman with high expectations for our class of advanced English students. By the time we graduated, she wanted us to be able to write at the level of John Steinbeck. My expectations were much less lofty. I wanted to be the next Erma Bombeck.
Literature analysis was important to Mrs. Hecker. We didn’t just read books or stories. Instead, we dissected them and analyzed them and discussed them until I wanted to scream. I didn’t care why the author chose to set the story in a crumbling mansion rather than a ranch house. I had no interest in the repeating patterns or use of color to convey a message. And symbolism was compeltely lost on me. I took the stories at face value and couldn’t understand why my classmates were raving about works that to me were dull as dirt (I’m still not good with simile).
After college I put my writing education to use. I quickly discovered I wasn’t nearly as funny as Erma Bombeck nor as smart as John Steinbeck, but my unpretentious writing style turned out to be well suited for journalism. Then I married a comm major, and before I knew what was happening, I was writing screenplays. I fell in love with the simplicity and brevity of the genre. And now, by some strange twist of events, I am the writer and director of an art film. Yes, me, the one who never liked analysis. I have a movie that includes all those elements we used to study in high school.
In Providence I’ve incorporated setting and tone and symbolism, patterns and imagery. Even a little allegory. I spent many hours planning details that can easily be missed by the casual viewer, but are being appreciated by the film lovers who take the time to look for the depth of layers. I’m disappointed when reviewers take it at face value and call it a simple film. I’m overjoyed when reviewers call it deceptively simple and then marvel at the layers. I think Mrs. Hecker would be proud.
If you’d like to see Providence for yourself and look for the layers of details, you can catch the movie at select AMC theaters starting February 12. I will be conducting Q and A sessions at Destin, Jacksonville, Atlanta, and Charlotte and would love to see you there to talk more in depth about the literary and art elements. I’m also excited to announce that it will be showing at the AMC Empire 25 at Times Square, Orange 30 in L.A., as well as other theaters across the country.