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SXSW ’10 | McCormick’s Sad Valentine “Some Days are Better Than Others”

SXSW '10 | McCormick's Sad Valentine "Some Days are Better Than Others"

Director Mattt McCormick’s character-driven “Some Days are Better Than Others” explores “why the good times slip by so fast while the hard times always seem so sticky. The film explores ideas of abundance, emptiness, human connection and abandonment while observing an interweaving web of awkward characters that maintain hope by inventing their own forms of communication and self-fulfillment…’Some Days are Better Than Others’ is a sad valentine to the forgotten discards of a throwaway society, and a story about knowing when to hold on, and when to let go.”

Some Days are Better Than Others
Director: Matt McCormick
Screenwriter: Matt McCormick
Cast: Carrie Brownstein, James Mercer, Renee Roman Nose, David Wodehouse
Producers: David Allen Cress, Neil Kopp, Bret Cranford, Ime Etuk
Music: Matthew Cooper and Matt McCormick
Cinematographer: Greg Schmitt

McCormick introduces himself and his work…

I have been making short experimental and documentary films for several years, but “Some Days are Better than Others” is my first feature. I live in Portland Oregon, and I began making films about 15 years ago. Initially I couldn’t afford to make films in the traditional sense, so I started out making found-footage collage films out of old 16mm educational films and other scraps I stumbled upon. I would cut and splice the original film and then create a separate soundtrack on a 4-track cassette recorder. To show my movies I’d have to thread the film into a projector and press play on a boom box, and hope that the two stayed somewhat in sync. Once I got the hang of that I began experimenting with performing a live soundtrack of electronic music and eventually started doing shows in punk clubs and art galleries throughout Portland and the Pacific Northwest. Eventually I saved up enough money to actually shoot my own film, and in 2002 I made a short called “The Subconscious Art of Graffiti Removal.” About that same time I also started the PDX Film Festival and the experimental film distribution label Peripheral Produce. These projects, along with a handful of music videos and other short films, kept me busy until I started working on “Some Days are Better Than Others” in 2006.

On the characters that shaped the film…

For “Some Days,” it was more about the slow development of several characters then it was about a concrete story that i felt needed to be told. While I ‘officially’ started writing the script in 2006, some of the characters had been floating around in my head for many years. The characters Eli and Otis where actually first explored in a music video I did for The Shins in 2002, while the storyline of Camille and the lost urn was inspired by a notice I saw in the lost-and-found section of a small-town newspaper. Katrina’s experiences at the dog shelter were largely based on my own experiences from volunteering at the Oregon Humane Society, and the character Otis is based on a real life person here in Oregon named George Andrus.

On casting the film…

When it came time to cast the movie, James Mercer pretty much had already played that character once, and Carrie Brownstein was actually a co-worker of mine at the Humane Society, so casting those two felt pretty natural. Initially we thought about having George Andrus act in the movie, but at 95 years old and with no acting experience he found memorizing the lines a little difficult, but we were very fortunate to find David Wodehouse to play the part. Camille was the only character who I didn’t have a clear idea already worked out for in my head, but when Renee Roman Nose auditioned for that part it all became obvious.

On how McCormick hopes the SXSW audience relates to the film…

I hope they take to the film! I hope that audiences might find shared concerns with the characters and can relate to them. But I also hope that people see this film as an art project or experiment where a bunch of creative friends got together and made a movie. I have known James and Carrie for several years, have collaborated with them on several projects, and have a deep respect for both of them as artists. At the same time, Matthew Cooper’s music has been the soundtrack for so many road-trips and rainy Portland mornings of mine that having not having him score the film seemed impossible.

On who inspires him…

I find great inspiration from the artists and filmmakers in my community, many who i have collaborated with and consider friends. Kelly Riechardt, Miranda July and Gus Van Sant are huge influences and inspirations. I also find a great deal of inspiration from the experimental film community, especially filmmakers Jem Cohen, Bill Brown, and Deborah Stratman. And of course George Andrus was a tremendous influence as well!

On his upcoming project, inspired by a thrift store discovery…

I am working on an experimental/documentary project based on a very detailed scrapbook that 4 ladies made during an epic 5 week, 3500 mile road-trip through the pacific northwest in 1959. I found the scrapbook at a thrift store a couple years ago, and plan on recreating their road-trip this summer.

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