Carter Smith has managed to bring to light the deep regrets of an unfulfilled life in his dark feature film drama “Jamie Marks Is Dead.” Based on Christopher Barzak’s novel “One For Sorrow,” the film revolves around a deceased bullied teen who gets a second chance at experiencing the things he never did when he was alive, blurring the line between life and death and showing how far more connected the two are than anyone could’ve realized.
What It’s About: A murdered high school boy who comes back as a ghost, looking for the love and friendship that he never had before his death.
And So It’s Really About: Loneliness. Belonging. Love. How complicated and difficult those things can be for a small town teen
(living or dead) who hasn’t yet figured out where they fit in the world.
Tell us briefly about yourself. What’s your background? By day I’m a photographer who shoots fashion and celebrities for
magazines like Elle, Allure and GQ. My first short film, BUGCRUSH
premiered at Sundance in 2006. I then made THE RUINS with Dreamworks,
followed by YEARBOOK which played at Sundance in 2011. JAMIE MARKS IS
DEAD is the first feature I’ve both written and directed.
What was the biggest challenge in completing this film? The biggest challenge for me was adapting Christopher Barzak’s beautiful
novel. The book is told entirely from the main
character Adam’s viewpoint and is very internal. Finding ways to keep
the story moving forward while staying true to the intimate tone of the
novel was tough. The biggest compliment came when Christopher was sure
that a scene I’d written for the film was actually in the novel, when in
fact it wasn’t.
What do you want Sundance audience to take away from your film? A sense of hope.
What films have inspired you? My inspiration while making JAMIE MARKS IS DEAD was always
BUGCRUSH. I worked with a lot of the same crew on both films (Darren
Lew the cinematographer, Eric Nagy the sound designer and Mike Potter
the makeup designer) and I kept reminding myself that if I stayed true to
telling the story I set out to tell, the film would find its audience.
What cameras did you shoot on? The Alexa.
What’s next for you? Who knows…? I’m working on a project about Brazilian black
magic in Rio. After making JMID in the dead of winter in upstate New
York, I thought something a little warmer might be nice.
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 2014 festival. For profiles go HERE.