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Meet the 2015 SXSW Filmmakers #14: Craig William Macneill’s ‘The Boy’ Wants You to Care About Your Neighbor’s Child

Meet the 2015 SXSW Filmmakers #14: Craig William Macneill's 'The Boy' Wants You to Care About Your Neighbor's Child

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It’s the summer of 1989. 9-year-old Ted Henley (Jared Breeze) and his father John (David Morse) are the proprietors of The Mt. Vista Motel, a crumbling resort buried in the mountains of the American West. Since Ted’s mother left, John has drifted into despondency—leaving Ted to fend for himself. In this isolation, unchecked by the bounds of parenting, Ted’s darker impulses begin to manifest. The arrival of a mysterious drifter, William Colby (Rainn Wilson), captivates young Ted and the two form a unique friendship – setting the stage for Ted’s final, unnerving metamorphosis. “The Boy” is a chilling, intimate portrait of a 9-year-old sociopath’s growing fascination with death. [Synopsis courtesy SXSW].

What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?

“The Boy” is an intimate portrait of of a 9-year-old boy’s growing fascination with death.

Now what’s it REALLY about?

It’s about the dark imagination of child left to his own device, the urge within him to experiment with those ideas that are beyond his understanding or control, and the dangerous blend of isolation, neglect and youth.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

I grew up in a small town outside of Boston and moved to Northern Virginia shortly before high school. I’ve written and directed a few shorts and experimental pieces before “The Boy.” The more I continue to write, the more I am discovering that a large portion of my work has been inspired by a stretch of Maine wilderness that I frequented over many summers as a child. The first time I visited the area I was gripped by an unease that grew with each subsequent visit. That fear took over my imagination. A legacy of those trips is my persistent fascination with lonely, desolate spaces and their hold on those that dwell within them.

Biggest challenge in completing this film?

Building our entire set in Colombia to double for Colorado – that was a challenge! My biggest concern however was finding right 8-year-old lead. I wanted someone with a magnetic screen presence; someone who was engaging without speaking a word. I also wanted a kid with little to no narrative film acting experience. My hope was to try and capture the real essence of childhood. We saw lots of kids, but Jared Breeze stood out. He was full of energy and embodied that sense of childhood wonder.

What do you want the SXSW audience to take away from your film?

A deep concern for their neighbor’s child.

Any films inspire you?

A lot. A few that immediately come to mind are “Birth,” “The Spirit of the Beehive,” “Ratcatcher,” “The Kid with a Bike,” “The Shining.”

What’s next?

I just completed a new script and I’m working on a couple more.

What cameras did you shoot on?

Alexa Plus

Did you crowdfund?
If so, via what platform. If not, why?

We did not crowdfund.

Did you go to film school? If so, which one?

I studied film at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

READ MORE: Meet the 2015 SXSW Filmmakers #12: Noah Pritzker’s ‘Quitters’ Sees a Family Falling Apart

Indiewire invited SXSW Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. For profiles go HERE.

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