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Meet the 2013 Sundance Filmmakers #13: Matt Porterfield Tells “An Honest Story About Divorce” In ‘I Used To Be Darker’

Meet the 2013 Sundance Filmmakers #13: Matt Porterfield Tells "An Honest Story About Divorce" In 'I Used To Be Darker'

Premiering in the NEXT section at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, “I Used to Be Darker” marks Matt Porterfield’s anticipated follow-up to his beguiling amalgamation of documentary and fictional narratives “Putty Hill.” The film, which takes its title from a lyric in a Bill Callahan song, centers on the working life of two domestic musicians (Kim Taylor and Ned Oldham, who perform original songs in the drama).

“This is a story about relationships,” screenwriter Amy Belk told Indiewire. “People taking care of each other and letting each other go, looking for love and connection where they’ve found it before or where they might find it next. It’s about family: what pushes us away from our own, what draws us back, how we negotiate new terms of engagement as we carve our own space in the world.”

What It’s About: “A Northern Irish runaway seeks refuge with her aunt, a working musician in Baltimore, only to find her in the midst of divorce with a husband and daughter in crisis.”

What It’s REALLY About: “This is a story about family, like all of my films. I wanted to tell an honest story about divorce and so did my co-writer, Amy Belk, each of us having gone through it ourselves. We wanted to honor our experience and what we learned about how complex and full of life even the dying of a marriage is, how it is a beginning as much as it is an ending for both the couple concerned and for the people whose lives they touch. In particular, this couple is separating because their creative lives are at odds with their roles as partners and providers.”

What’s ‘The Thing’?: “Time is the thing. There’s never enough. And it’s the essential material we work with as filmmakers. In development, time is like a freight train. It’s left the station, there’s room onboard, but it’s never going to slow. The challenge is jumping in, at the right moment, clutching all the pieces you have in your hands. For ‘I Used To Be Darker,’ we were 7 days out from production with zero dollars in the bank when I took the leap, mentally and physically: I got the film’s title tattooed on my arm, so I couldn’t look back. It’s true of every phase of production. If you wait for light, the right take, the ideal conditions, you’ll never make a move. Making something lasting out of the time you’re given – I guess that’s the challenge.”

What I Hope I Achieved: “I hope people take away a feeling of deep empathy for all of the characters. If it’s at all possible to achieve, it’s because of the remarkable cast. Every time I watch the film, I’m moved by what they bring to the screen. It would be cool if Sundance audiences walk away feeling like they discovered new talent, too, just as I did when I watched that first audition.”

Up Next for Me: “A film called ‘Sollers Point,’ about a 30-year-old man on house arrest, living with his dad. We’re attending IFFR’s Cinemart and Berlin’s Co-Production Market with the project, and last year we received support from Creative Capital and the Wexner Center for the Arts, so we’re hoping to build off the momentum of Sundance and shoot in the summer of 2013.”

What I Shot On: ARRI Alexa

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013 festival.

Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on January 17 for the latest profiles.

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